Hilo brought a roster of just 30 strong, and had more than enough firepower, especially from quarterback Sione Atuekaho, to dominate crosstown rival Waiakea 49-18 in a preseason football game on Saturday at Wong Stadium.
Tristin Spikes rushed for 112 yards on 12 carries, and Atuekaho added 89 yards on just six attempts, and accounted for five touchdowns — three in the air and two on the ground.
Jordan Caoagdan was Atuekaho’s favorite target with five catches for 65 yards, including a 13-yard scoring strike. Atuekaho was just 10 of 22 for 111 yards, but was quite productive with three TD passes and no picks.
In fact, the Vikings, who piled up 203 rushing yards on 33 carries for a healthy 6.2 yard-per-rush average, had zero turnovers. The Warriors finished with three turnovers, two that Hilo turned into touchdowns.
And the score got so lopsided that Hilo backup quarterback Nainoa Kawailima played most of the second half, and went 3 of 4 for 48 yards with a TD strike.
Waiakea lost over 20 seniors from last year, and that inexperience showed up as a big wart, especially on offense. The Warriors rushed for 181 yards on 42 carries for a 4.3 yard-per-rush average.
But that’s a little deceptive because Safune Wilson picked up 60 yards on one thrilling run in the second quarter. Take that away and Waiakea’s rush average drops to 2.9 yards.
Also the Warriors just couldn’t find a rhythm with their passing game. Senior quarterback Kainalu Fejeran went 3 of 11 for 47 yards with no TDs or interceptions.
Wilson, a senior, finished with 71 yards on five attempts while Joe Ongais, a junior, added 47 yards on 11 carries for the Warriors, who were almost victim to the 35-point mercy rule.
But after Hilo’s Kaonohiokala Botelho snagged a 35-yard scoring pass from Kawailima to bump the score to 49-13, Waiakea’s 5-foot-4 bolt of lightning — junior Pono Auwae — scored on a 73-yard kickoff return.
That was the Warriors’ highlight of the game, a shining light during a game that crawled at a turtle’s pace. There were only 37 passes thrown, compared to 75 rushing attempts, but the marathon lasted three hours.
It was the first weekend of football between a pair of Big Island Interscholastic Federation teams after Tropical Storm Iselle wiped out last week’s games.
In the first half, senior running back Spikes and fellow senior Atuekaho had their way on the ground, and staked Hilo to a 29-6 halftime lead.
Spikes piled up 94 yards on 11 carries while Atuekaho added 83 yards on five rushes, picking up 18 yards when he burned a blitz on an up-the-middle run in the second quarter.
Atuekaho followed with a 34-yard touchdown run on a zone-read play, going left, then pulling what ESPN’s Chris Berman would describe as the “whoop” play. Atuekaho cut across the field, stopped on a dime to let a defender go past, then waltzed into the end zone for a 23-0 lead.
On the ensuing series, Wilson helped cut the lead to 23-6 with a home-crowd pleasing 60-yard run, with most of the gain from a brilliant spin move or a missed tackle, depending on a team’s point of view.
Wilson was tackled at the 3-yard line, and Fejeran’s run was sniffed out by the Hilo defense, and he went backward for a two-yard loss. On the next play, the Warriors went to an off-set I (a three-prong run option) and Joe Alvarez got four yards back, and on his second attempt scored from 1 yard out.
The Vikings capitalized on Waiakea’s second turnover of the second quarter for a 29-6 cushion when Spikes scored on a three-yard run.
In its last game of 2013, Hilo fell to Campbell 42-27 in the first round of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I state tournament at Keaau High.
The Vikings struggled against the pass, and Sabers quarterback Isaac Hurd (now at Southern Oregon with 2014 Hawaii Prep graduate Bobby Lum), who went 27 of 36 with no picks for 375 yards and four touchdown strikes.
Of course, Hilo (9-1 last year) is a much different team, especially with the graduation of eight of 11 starters on defense. But for the most part on Saturday, the defensive unit played solid ball.
Waiakea (2-6) also took a huge graduation hit, sending off 22 seniors from a squad that fell to Kealakehe 31-14 in the BIIF semifinals last year.
In the junior varsity, Hilo defeated Waiakea 41-0.
Hilo 16 13 14 6 — 49
Waiakea 0 6 6 0 — 12
Hilo — Sione Atuekaho 17 run (Rayce Takayesu kick), 9:11
Hilo — Safety (QB sacked in end zone), 7:12
Hilo — Keola Caoagdan 13 pass from Atuekaho (Takayesu kick), 2:49
Hilo — Atuekaho 34 run (Takayesu kick), 11:15
Wai — Joe Alvarez 1 run (kick failed), 8:35
Hilo — Tristin Spikes 3 run (kick failed), 3:47
Hilo — Rylen Kaniaupio 9 pass from Atuekaho (Takayesu kick), 6:41
Wai — Pono Auwae 8 run (pass failed), 2:49
Hilo — Keola Kelekolio 19 pass from Atuekaho (Takayesu kick), 1:05
Hilo — Kaonohiokala Botelho 35 pass from Nainoa Kawailima (kick failed), 4:50
Wai — Auwae 72 kickoff (run failed), 4:36