Waveriders set to defend title


By JOHN DeGROOTE

Stephens Media Hawaii

The road to the BIIF Division I crown goes through Kealakehe.

The Waveriders have dominated BIIF competition over the last decade, winning seven of the last nine BIIF championships.

“We expect to win, and we expect to work hard,” head coach Sam Papalii said. “We don’t just show up and win. We have to prepare to win and push to take us to where we have not been.”

Last year, with Papalii returning to the helm, Kealakehe went unscathed en route to the title with a team that Papalii described as “one of the most talented he has coached.”

However, Kealakehe graduated 22 talented seniors from that squad — 17 of which went to play football at the next level.

Remaining for the ‘Riders is big, veteran offensive and defensive lines and uncertainty at most of the skill positions.

“This is a whole new season,” Papalii said. “Anytime you are tough in the trenches you have a chance to win. We just have to find a way to fit the new pieces in.

“Both our offensive and defensive lines are our strength.”

While winning the BIIF is always Kealakehe’s first priority, recording a victory at the state level has become the proverbial monkey on the program’s back.

“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about winning at the state level,” Papalii said. “We have been there so many times without a win. It is something this program is not proud of. I’m always thinking of way to take our team to the next level.”

Quarterback

Kaimi Wilson will take the snaps in the Waveriders’ spread offense.

“We will mostly run the football, but I look forward to see what we can do in the passing game,” Papalii said. “We have worked hard on it and if teams come out and crowd the box we will pass. If we manage to spread out teams and they don’t cover us, we will take advantage.”

Running back

The Waveriders averaged 193 rushing yards a game last year, but lost the top five rushers, including University of Hawaii-bound Internet sensation David Fangupo and co-offensive player of the year Lennox Jones.

Senior Keanu Tilfas and sophomore transfer Kobe Antolin, a transfer from Mililani, are looking to fill the void at running back.

Many roles have not yet been determined, and Papalii is looking for players to separate themselves from the pack in the early-going.

“There’s a youth movement going on at our skill positions,” Papalii said. “We have talent, but most of the guys are untested. They have to learn how to play Waverider football under the lights. Last year I had to find out about Lennox Jones. When I saw him play against Kailua in the first game of the season I found out that’s who my tailback would be. Right now I don’t know who that guy will be.”

Wide receiver

The Waveriders boast a pair of sophomores in Blaine Bromberg and Keaho Kaakimaka who are over 6-feet. Open-field threat Louie Garcia will play as a slot receiver.

Offensive line

Kealakehe averages over 300-pounds on the offensive line, headlined by first-team All-BIIF selections Feke Sopoaga-Kioa and Tui Eli. Hoku Kamaka, Jordan Giddens-Paio and Travis Lualemaga round out the hogs up front.

“Behind that line, I could strap on the pads again and run through those holes,” Papalii said.

Defensive line

Lualemaga, a first-team defense selection in 2012, will anchor the defensive line as well. Accompanying him in the trenches will be Peni Kalavi, Joesph Kaopua and Winton Palik.

Linebacker

Tilfas and Antolin headline a group that Papalii calls “very athletic.”

Defensive back

Much like they will at receiver, cornerbacks Kaakimaka and Garcia will figure prominently along with safeties Shaden Lewi and Daniel Weber.

PROBABLE STARTERS

Offense

No. Pos. Name

3 QB Kaimi Wilson

11 RB Keanu Tilfas

27 WR Blaine Bromberg

21 WR Keaho Kaakimaka

2 SB Louie Garcia

5 SB Jeffrey Lewi

75 LT Feke Sopoaga-Kioa

65 LG Tui Eli

70 C Hoku Kamaka

55 RG Travis Lualemaga

73 RT Jordan Giddens-Paio

Defense

63 DE Peni Kalavi

55 DT Travis Lualemaga

65 DT Tui Eli

56 DE Joesph Kaopua

11 LB Keanu Tilfas

23 LB Kobe Antolin

27 LB Blaine Bromberg

2 CB Louie Garcia

21 CB Keaho Kaakimaka

6 S Shaden Lewi

9 S Daniel Weber

Schedule

8/31 at Keaau, 4:30 p.m.

9/7 Hawaii Prep, 7 p.m.

9/14 Kamehameha, 7:30 p.m.

9/21 at Honokaa, 7 p.m.

9/28 at Hilo, 6:30 p.m.

10/5 Waiakea, 7:30 p.m.

10/12 Konawaena, 7:30 p.m.

 

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