HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
AARON N NAGATA / SPECIAL TO THE STAR BULLETIN
Waianae's Danny Kekoanui avoided a tackle by Kealakehe defenders Aisea Tremaine and Jordan Ursua last night.
Waianae clears all hurdles
KEALAKEHE, Big Island » No head coach, no starting quarterback, no problem.
The Waianae Seariders overcame a number of huge obstacles, the greatest being Big Island champion Kealakehe, but hung on for a 21-17 win last night before a crowd of 2,000 at the Waveriders' field.
The victory pushed Waianae (9-3) into the semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division I state football championships. Waianae will meet Saint Louis on Saturday at Aloha Stadium.
The Seariders moved on despite the absence of head coach Daniel Matsumoto, who was diagnosed with a detached retina during the week and did not make the trip. Quarterback B.J. Jelf also stayed back on Oahu due to disciplinary reasons, so Ben McQuown moved back to the position after playing several games at wingback.
The senior guided Waianae to a 455-yard rushing performance against a Kealakehe defense that bent and bent without breaking that often. Danny Kekoanui rushed for 184 yards on 21 carries and Johnathan Abell had 110 yards on 17 attempts. McQuown ran a number of bootlegs and finished with 99 yards on seven rushes.
"Our defense kept us in the game," McQuown said. "I like playing quarterback and keeping everybody in the game."
Waianae led from start to finish, but Kealakehe quarterback Kawai Kanuha kept his team in the game when he got hot in the second half.
Kealakehe's run-and-shoot offense finished with 355 total yards as Kanuha was 24-for-45 for 333 yards. He threw two touchdowns and was picked off three times.
Wide receiver Joshua Fulton had six receptions for 151 yards, while defensive end Kelvin Malakaua had eight tackles, including a sack.
Waianae's stalwart defense swarmed around Waverider receivers all night. Matt Ibanez had four tackles, a deflection and a blocked field goal to spark the Seariders.
"They always play us tough. Three times now, and it's always close," said Waianae's Bryant Ginoza, the offensive coordinator, who filled in for Matsumoto. "It's the story of our season. We drive, but we cannot score, and our defense comes through."
With a 21-17 lead and just 5:43 left, Waianae's offense was stellar. The Seariders drove to midfield, and on fourth and 1 at the Kealakehe 47-yard line, used an old-school technique to get the first down. The offensive linemen did the old Dallas Cowboys tactic, a sudden move up from a two-point stance, to draw several Waveriders offside.
"Last year, we ran it in the OIA championship game, but they called us for it," Ginoza said. This time, Waianae got the first down. "It was more realistic if our offense did it instead of our punt team."
If Kealakehe hadn't jumped offside, Waianae would have punted, Ginoza said.
"Our defense is the heart of our team," he said.
Waianae ran out the rest of the clock, marching to the 5-yard line in the final minute.
"Those picks, I had a couple calls where I missed reads," Kanuha said. "Waianae is obviously a great team. They did a great job of changing up at the line. I'm glad we played with all our heart."
Ginoza paid tribute to Kanuha.
"He hurt us when we blitzed him. He does his hot reads well," Ginoza said.
It was a third win in three straight state tournaments for Waianae against Kealakehe.
Waianae exerted its force from the opening snap. The Seariders didn't throw a single pass, plowing through the Waverider defense on a 10-play, 55-yard drive. McQuown raced around right end untouched on a bootleg, his first rush of the game, for a 15-yard touchdown. Waianae led 7-0 with 6:52 left in the opening quarter.
The Seariders drove deep again in its next series, but McQuown missed a wide-open Abell near the goal line. Terrence Akao then missed a 24-yard field-goal try to give Kealakehe a reprieve.
Kealakehe answered with its first scoring drive. A drive that took nearly 7 minutes ended with a 33-yard field goal by Lanakila Yniques. The Waveriders pulled within 7-3 with 11:49 left in the second quarter.
Without an effective passing game, the Seariders relied on handoffs to the wing in motion, or "fly" back. From there, the fly ran the option with the running back, and it worked well between the 20-yard lines for the Seariders.
No. 5 Waianae 21, Kealakehe 17
At Kealakehe H.S. field
Wain--Ben McQuown 15 run (Terrence Akao kick)
Kea--FG Lanakila Ynigues 33
Wain--Eleu Wilson 2 run (Akao kick)
Kea--Kenneth Whiting 12 pass from Kawai Kanuha (pass failed)
Wain--Danny Kekoanui 6 run (Akeo kick)
Kea--Jeffrey Marks 14 pass from Kanuha (Whiting pass from Kanuha)
RUSHING -- Waianae: Danny Kekoanui 21-184, Jonathan Abell 17-110, Ben McQuown 7-99, Justin Kauwalu 3-18, Wilson 5-12, Glenn Wain 1-11, R.J. Tacgere-Bailey 3-9, Shawn Brooks 1-8, Keoni Napierala 4-7, team 1-(-1), Toagamalu Brown 2-(-2). Kealakehe: Keoki Limahai 8-25, Kanuha 3-(-3).
PASSING -- Waianae: McQuown 2-7-1-47, Brown 1-1-0-34, Kekoanui 0-1-0-0. Kealakehe: Kanuha 24-45-3-333.
RECEIVING -- Waianae: Ryan Manuel 1-41, Wain 1-34, Kekoanui 1-6. Kealakehe: Jordan Ursua 8-78, Joshua Fulton 6-151, Marks 4-37, Whiting 2-41, Limahai 2-0, James Marino 1-15, Jacob Kimi 1-11.