OIA RED EAST FOOTBALL
No. 10 McKinley uses depth to rally past outmanned Kalaheo
For a half, the Kalaheo Mustangs were nearly unstoppable.
Fortunately for the McKinley Tigers, the Mustangs simply ran out of gas. McKinley, using depth and size to wear down the tough Mustangs, rallied in the second half for a 35-26 win last night at Roosevelt High School.
Keawe Kalama bulldozed his way to 215 yards on just 14 carries, and senior Isaac Iuta fired touchdown passes of 13 and 40 yards as McKinley rallied from a 20-7 deficit. The Tigers finished Oahu Interscholastic Association Red East play with a 4-2 record (5-3 overall).
"This is our goal, to play in the postseason," Tigers coach Bobby Grey said. "Hopefully, we can play in the stadium. We're going to play Leilehua, I think, and they're a great team."
Tenth-ranked McKinley got all it could handle from the Mustangs (1-7, 0-6).
"Our team has worked at 5:30 in the morning, but the game makes no guarantees," Kalaheo coach Chris Mellor said. "We can't measure our season with a (conference) win, but we're a good team, one of the best ones this school has had. We've competed in every game."
Cody vonAppen, a junior quarterback, was flawless as Kalaheo scored touchdowns on its first three drives of the game. However, Kalaheo suited up only 26 players. By the third quarter, fatigue was an obvious problem.
"Oh my gosh, Kalaheo is so well-coached," Grey said. "They played their hearts out. Their record doesn't show what they're capable of. The only reason they started to struggle was they got tired."
The Mustangs have reason to be optimistic about next season. Their junior varsity team, with a healthy amount of depth, closed out its season with a 46-6 win over the JV Tigers yesterday.
"It's frustrating 'cause we work so hard, but we'll have our core guys back next year," said vonAppen, one of several Mustangs to play every down on both sides of the ball and special teams.
The Mustangs drove 83 yards in 15 plays with the game's opening series. Koa Siliga's 14-yard touchdown catch gave Kalaheo a 7-0 lead with 4:32 left in the first quarter.
McKinley answered with a scoring drive, marching 71 yards in nine plays. Iuta scored on a 5-yard keeper to tie the game at 7 with 11:53 remaining in the second quarter.
A 57-yard kickoff return by Siliga gave McKinley excellent field position. VonAppen's 4-yard keeper gave Kalaheo a 14-7 lead with 9:16 to go in the first half.
The Mustangs drove 49 yards, spurred by vonAppen's 29-yard strike to Bruce Andrews. They capped the drive on vonAppen's 2-yard sneak into the end zone and took a 20-7 lead with 4:42 left in the half.
McKinley needed only four plays to score its next touchdown. Kalama rambled on a 29-yard touchdown jaunt, and the Tigers trailed 20-14 with 2:30 to go in the half.
The second half was dominated by the Tigers, who took a 21-20 lead on Alan Hashimoto's 13-yard touchdown catch.
McKinley added a 75-yard scoring drive late in the third quarter. Reserve running back Mike Lekona's 2-yard touchdown run gave the Tigers a 28-20 lead with 2:23 left.
Kalaheo, which managed just 26 total yards in the second half, could not sustain a drive, and McKinley added its final touchdown on Iuta's 40-yard flea-flicker bomb to Joshua Nakama. McKinley led 35-20 with 11:35 remaining in the game.
Kao Malama-Custer returned the ensuing squib kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown to bring Kalaheo within 35-26, but the Mustangs got no closer.