HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Word of Life's Ryan Alvarado tried to shake off a flying tackle from Nanakuli's Darius Akau-Naeole at Nanakuli. Word of Life earned a win in its first varsity football game, 26-8.
Word of Life debuts with a win
| READ THE FULL STORY
It was both unusual and spirited, the way Word of Life's brand-new varsity football team took the field at Nanakuli last night.
The Firebrands, clad in all-black with blue trim, whooped it up near their locker room, singing "This is the day the Lord has made." It was enough to raise the eyebrows of many Nanakuli fans.
Soon enough, there was a lot more that left the Golden Hawks stunned. Word of Life's compact Double-Wing offense dazzled all night en route to a 26-8 win over Nanakuli in the season opener for both teams.
FULL STORY »
They came out of the locker room singing a worship song.
By the end of the night, Word of Life was rewarded with a 26-8 victory at Nanakuli in its varsity football debut.
The Firebrands rushed for 217 yards, including 62 yards and two touchdowns by fullback Jared Stephenson. Despite starting six two-way players, Word of Life showed little sign of fatigue and swarmed all over Nanakuli rushers, especially on the perimeter.
Quarterback Jacob DeKneef was superb at the helm of WLA's Double-Wing offense. His direction and a stellar offensive line helped three Firebrands rush for at least 54 yards.
"It was our heart. We play with our heart and put God first," DeKneef said. "I feel confident for our season."
The Firebrands, who play in Division II of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, are the first new entry to the league since the 1970s. Coach Joe Onosai, who was a bruising fullback at Pac-Five, was WLA's coach at the intermediate level. The Firebrands were last year's intermediate champs in the ILH.
"I didn't need to say anything. The kids were ready to play," said Onosai, a former UH and Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman.
The host Golden Hawks finished with 124 rushing yards, including 71 on 10 carries by Rico Wahilani.
"We made progress. We're focusing on intensity, pride and sportsmanship," Nanakuli coach Skip Lopes said. "We had a whole lot of missed assignments, missed blocks, but we just gotta work on conditioning and getting out on the offensive and defensive line."
Word of Life's crisp attack was impressive.
"The execution on offense and defense was exceptional," Lopes said.
The Firebrands threw only one pass all night, sticking with its dives and counter plays out of the Double-Wing and spread sets. Using handoffs to the "fly" man in motion to start, they drove 80 yards on 11 plays to open the game, with Stephenson punching in for a 2-yard score with 7:08 left in the opening quarter.
They drove 55 yards in eight plays before the end of the quarter for a second touchdown. On fourth and goal from the 1, DeKneef dropped the football under center, scooped it up and raced around left end untouched as Word of Life took a 14-0 lead with 14 seconds to go in the first.
A drive deep into Nanakuli territory ended with a fumble late in the first half, but the Firebrands tacked on another touchdown with 4:26 left in the third quarter. Stephenson's 1-yard plunge capped a 12-play, 77-yard drive and WLA led 20-0.
Quarterback Raven Garcia connected with Chadez Alvarado-Meyers on a 15-yard play-action pass for a touchdown to get the Golden Hawks on the scoreboard with 11:02 left in the contest. A 2-point PAT run by Sean Tau cut the lead to 20-8.
Word of Life then marched 56 yards in 14 plays, aided by a Nanakuli personal foul on the kickoff return. Ryan Alvarado scored on a 3-yard run that ended a WLA drive that chewed 7:15 off the clock.
|Word of Life (1-0)
WLA--Jared Stephenson 2 run (kick blocked)
WLA--Jacob DeKneef 1 run (Max Mower run)
WLA--Stephenson 1 run (run failed)
NAN--Chadez Alvarado-Meyers 15 pass from Raven Garcia (Sean Tau run)
WLA--Ryan Alvarado 3 run (run failed)
RUSHING--Word of Life: Stephenson 15-62, Mower 10-60, Alvarado 13-54, Paul-Christian Morales 10-37, DeKneef 7-4. Nanakuli: Rico Wahilani 10-71, Alvarado-Meyers 9-29, Garcia 4-26, Ryan Graves 5-8, Barry Tau 1-3, C. Alvarado-Meyers 2-(-13).
PASSING--Word of Life: DeKneef 1-1-0-10. Nanakuli: C. Alvarado-Meyers 2-2-0-(-5), Darius Akau-Naeole 0-1-1-0, Garcia 1-3-0-15.
RECEIVING--Word of Life: Stephenson 1-10. Nanakuli: Ronald Heater 1-4, C. Alvarado-Meyers 1-15, Tau 1-(-9).
Junior varsity--Saint Louis 26, Nanakuli 7