Kauai has a pass-rush solution


POSTED: Tuesday, December 01, 2009

For years, Kauai football has been about the run-and-shoot aerial fest.

The results have been superb, leading the Red Raiders to seven Kauai Interscholastic Federation titles in a row. On Friday, second-seeded Kauai (10-0) has its toughest test of the year: 'Iolani (11-2), the top Division II seed in the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA State Football Championships.

While Kauai quarterback Trey Shimabukuro has been productive (207 passing yards per game), the Red Raiders mixed it up more this year. Bruising running back Paleku Yasay (5-foot-9, 210 pounds) ran for 105 yards per game in KIF play, which gives defenses two choices: stop Yasay on the shotgun draw or sit back and wait for a Kauai mistake.

Often enough, Shimabukuro saw defenses overload against the run. On this signature play against Kapaa—coached by former Kauai coach Keli'i Morgado, who brought the run-and-shoot to the program—the Warriors stacked one side of the field and showed a possible run blitz.

Shimabukuro sent a hand signal to his receivers, a la Peyton Manning, before the snap. The result: a quick slant by slotback Taran Tani from Shimabukuro, who took only one step back before firing to his wide-open target. Tani picked up a first down on the play, corralled by a linebacker and two defensive backs who were basically playing deep in the outfield.

'Iolani's secondary faces the run-and-shoot on a daily basis at practice, but it will still be a big challenge for safety Andrew Skalman and the secondary.

If Kauai can't run between the tackles—'Iolani linemen Seali'i Epenesa and Kaena Moose have hindered most opposition this season—there might not be much blitzing at all. 'Iolani would stay in basic coverage, clog the passing lanes and slow down Kauai's high-scoring offense (32.2 points per game).