Waianae returns to the run


POSTED: Sunday, August 23, 2009

The more things change, as they say, the more they stay the same.

Take the spread formation popularized locally by former University of Hawaii football assistant coach Paul Johnson. His spread option not only sparked the Rainbows to a Holiday Bowl win in 1992, it charged a new generation of copycats in the prep ranks.

Seventeen years later, the spread continues to thrive under Johnson, who is now at Georgia Tech. It also turned the program around at Navy, his previous stop, and continues to flourish under Laie native Kenny Niumatalolo.

Local programs, though, have veered into the latest fads and trends. From flex option—shotgun sets also known in the NFL as the “;Wildcat”;—to run-and-shoot to flexbones, variations continue. So, while teams like Saint Louis continue to perpetuate the efficiency and beauty of a pure run-and-shoot offense, other programs like Waianae and Kapolei have steered it into versions that have distinct flavors.




No. 8 Waianae  41
No. 7 Kapolei21



At Kapolei, the run-and-shoot offense has hybrid elements, accentuating the strengths of its quarterbacks. In Noah Pascua, they have a tough, hard-throwing scrambler who is comfortable in the pocket. That was evident last week in a win over Kamehameha-Hawaii.

Waianae threw the ball 32 times last week against Saint Louis, mostly out of the run-and-shoot set. On Friday, against Kapolei, the Seariders relied on the shotgun only a handful of times.

Early on, the Seariders actually tested out a no-huddle I formation with Keoni Napierala-Rose at tailback and Henry Medeiros at fullback. After two turnovers, that was set aside in favor of the Wing T, which wore down Kapolei's defense. The result was 225 rushing yards and a 41-21 win, including a run of 27 unanswered points in the second half.

When the Seariders (1-1, 1-0 OIA Red West) needed to convert long third downs, they went to shotgun trips sets with success against Kapolei's zone coverage. Quarterback Puletua Wilson, who recovered from an early-week flu, was on the money in those clutch situations. He threw just nine times, but completed six and remained effective as a dual threat; he might be the most dangerous scrambler in the Oahu Interscholastic Association.

While Waianae preferred to butt heads and hand the ball to Napierala-Rose (191 rushing yards and three touchdowns), Kapolei deviated from its shotgun formation midway through the game. The 'Canes (1-1, 0-1) were down 14-7 when they unveiled a shotgun, two-back set, and an I-slot formation—something Leilehua has used in recent years—and drove 65 yards in less than 3 minutes. Pascua couldn't miss, hitting four different receivers before Keaka Fernandez bolted through the middle for a 25-yard touchdown run.

Kapolei went back to the max-protection sets early in the third quarter, but didn't score and reverted back to its more traditional schemes. Whether the 'Canes weren't comfortable enough with the different sets or didn't have a large package of plays for those formations, it was good news for the Seariders.

“;This was way different,”; middle linebacker Chivas Paris said. “;I got double teams when they ran the 'I'.”;

Waianae's defense adjusted just enough.

“;We started catching onto the 'I.' Our outside linebacker got used to coming downhill more,”; said Paris, who played for the first time since a fibula injury in the offseason. “;It looked like they weren't prepared and had a couple of rough series. The D-line pressure got to (Pascua).”;

The Waianae defense, anchored by 315-pound Eleu Wilson, had created some problems. Linebacker Tiolu Passi had a sack, while Joe Tavares, Kalei Hinsley and Wilson recovered fumbles. Allen Ibanes, Guyson Amina and Shane Akina added interceptions.

“;Everybody did their assignments,”; Paris noted. “;Once (Kapolei) got shut down on two offensive series and we got up two touchdowns, we knew they'd play catch-up.”;

The current Waianae senior class was together two years ago when the Seariders won the OIA Red junior varsity title.

“;That year, we lost only to Radford. They had heart and we were too big-headed,”; Paris said. “;That spoiled our perfect season, but now we know not to take anyone lightly.”;