Friday | December 15, 2017
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BIIF eight-man football: Ka’u stampedes past Pahoa to take another title

PAHALA — The Ka‘u bulldozers mowed the grass and anything else in the way on the field at Laurence Capellas ballpark on Saturday.

The Trojans played smash-mouth football and wore down Pahoa 38-24 in the BIIF eight-man championship, winning their third title in four seasons.

The only time the Trojans didn’t win the crown was in 2015 when Kohala beat them.

There’s still no HHSAA tournament because three leagues are needed. The Maui Interscholastic League is only other one in the state playing eight-man.

But at least Ka‘u can bask in the glory as the kings on the Big Island, and coach DuWayne Ke’s team got there the old-fashioned way — blocking and tackling better than the opposition.

The football field felt like an open-air sauna under a punishing sun with no cloud cover for much of the game.

“Their offensive line has good size,” Pahoa coach Chris Midel said. “That took a toll on our defense and tired us out.”

There weren’t any crazy Madden Xbox numbers like Keala Harris’ 333 yards and four scores in Pahoa’s 32-8 win last month.

But there were enough big plays to entertain the fans.

While the Ka‘u offensive line is bigger across the board, the Daggers get by with their speed, and Midel refers to his guys as Speedy Gonzales, the cartoon mouse that’s faster than Wile E. Coyote and just as shifty as the Road Runner.

The Trojans kept running the ball, getting first downs and limiting Pahoa’s offensive possessions with 172 yards on 38 carries, a 4.53 average.

Ke wanted to credit his O-line the first thing after the game. So, hats off to center Josaiah Barrios, Weston Davis, Kanoa Kailiawa, Isaiah Naboa, and Nainoa Ke.

“That’s the best game we’ve played against Pahoa,” Ke said. “We had a good rushing game, and our defense had a really good game.

“Our conditioning helped, and our boys came to play for this game. Brandon Echalas plays both ways for us. He one of the toughest players on the team.”

Echalas rushed for 38 yards on five carries and had an interception.

When the Daggers crowded the line of scrimmage, Ka‘u quarterbacks Zachary Kai and Bobby Pilanca Emmsley threw the ball downfield for explosive plays (20 or more yards).

Kai had completions of 25 and 50 yards and Pilanca Emmsley had strikes of 25, 30, and 25 yards. Ka‘u also had more plays than Pahoa, 55-44.

Kai, a senior, went 4 of 8 for 107 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 75 yards and a TD on 24 attempts.

Pilanca Emmsley, a freshman, was 5 of 9 for 95 yards with a touchdown. He ran for 35 yards and a score on seven carries. He also caught three balls for 72 yards.

One of the highlights was a trickeration play by the Trojans in the third quarter. On a flea flicker, Kai tossed the ball to Pilanca Emmsley, who rifled a 30-yard bullet to Kai.

That set up Isaiah Naboa’s 5-yard scoring strike from Pilanca Emmsley. It pushed Ka‘u ahead 22-10 after Pahoa scored on its first drive to start the second half.

Harris opened the third quarter with a pair of long runs of 12 and 22 yards. Later quarterback Duane Correa scored on a 1-yard plunge to cut the lead to 16-10.

After Naboa’s TD catch, Harris scored on a 31-yard pass from Correa to get Pahoa within 22-18.

If it works once, why not try it again?

The Trojans used another flea flicker, and Kai fired a 50-yard bomb to Pilanca Emmsley, who later caught a 15-yard scoring strike for a 30-18 cushion.

In the fourth quarter, a Ka‘u fumble eventually led to Correa’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Ortega. That trimmed the lead to 30-24 with 4:15 left.

The Daggers couldn’t force another turnover, and the Trojans later added insurance when Pilanca Emmsley ran for an 11-yard score.

Not only did the Trojans have better field position throughout the game, but they also won the turnover battle. They had one fumble; Pahoa had two giveaways.

The Daggers ran jet sweeps and misdirection plays with counters looking to poke holes in the Ka‘u defense.

Harris found a few. He rushed for 65 yards, including a long of 22 yards, on nine carries. Out of the slot, he caught seven passes for 75 yards.

Correa, the Dagger quarterback and a fellow senior, ran for 30 yards on 14 carries and went 11 of 17 for 131 yards with two scores and one pick.

There’s a nice family atmosphere at Ka‘u. And it’s not just because Ke’s wife Tammy and son Kainalu, a 2015 Ka‘u graduate, are assistants on the team, and his other son Nainoa is a senior lineman.

After the game, Ke called out for principal Sharon Beck and athletic director Kalei Namohala to join the team’s circle of celebration.

Then the Trojans honored the team’s six seniors: Janslae Badua, Zachary Kai, Brandon Echalas, Kun Mongkeya, Isaiah Naboa, and Nainoa Ke.

“Next year, it’ll be business as usual,” the Trojan coach said. “We only lose six players. The next six have to step up.”

Ka‘u had a roster of 23 players. Pahoa had a roster of 31 and will also lose six seniors.

The Daggers played in the eight-man championship for the first time and still chasing an elusive first title.

Both teams appear to have bright futures. And a championship rematch next season looks like a pretty good possibility.

“We’ll have our second-string quarterback (Josiah Waiolama),” Midel said. “We’ve got several Speedy Gonzales guys left for next year, too.”

The Trojans know that, and they’ll be waiting with their bulldozers.

Pahoa 2 0 16 6 — 24

Ka‘u 8 8 14 8 — 38

First quarter

Ka‘u — Janslae Badua 25 pass from Bobby Pilanca Emmsley (Pilanca Emmsley run)

Pahoa — Safety (tackle in end zone)

Second quarter

Ka‘u — Zachary Kai 1 run (Kai run)

Third quarter

Pahoa — Duane Correa 1 run (Keala Harris run)

Ka‘u — Naboa 5 pass from Bobby Pilanca Emmsley (run failed)

Pahoa — Harris 31 pass from Correa (Correa run)

Ka‘u — Pilanca Emmsley 15 pass from Kai (Pilanca Emmsley run)

Fourth quarter

Pahoa — Matthew Ortega 13 pass from Correa (pass failed)

Ka‘u —Pilanca Emmsley 11 run (Janslae Badua pass from Pilanca Emmsley)


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