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Kamehameha did it with balance


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POSTED: Sunday, December 06, 2009

The team with more balance won this time.

Kamehameha was a run-oriented team for a good part of the season, but the evolution of its passing game was unstoppable, as Kahuku learned Friday. Kamehameha won its second state title, 34-21 over Kahuku, bringing a new HHSAA football trophy back to campus for the first time since 2004.

There have been state champions that mastered the passing lanes or ground attack, but not both. Kamehameha finished with 357 yards—174 rushing and 183 passing—and kept Kahuku's secondary out of sync for most of the night.

Kahuku quarterback Evan Moe (7-for-17, 138 yards) threw two touchdowns and was picked twice, unable to get into a consistent groove without a consistent ground attack. The Red Raiders finished with 105 rushing yards (3.6 per carry), their lowest output since winning a mud-bog game at Castle in early October. Only Kailua (61) limited Kahuku to fewer yards on the ground.

“;We got that offense going in the second half, but we were behind the eight ball and threw more than we really wanted to,”; Kahuku offensive coordinator Walter Santiago Sr. said.

The senior class of Warriors worked heavily in the offseason and through a fall camp comprised of four-a-day workouts and study sessions from early morning to evening. Thorough preparation, a hallmark of coach David Stant's three seasons at the helm, combined with that program-wide work ethic turned out to be a winning formula.

“;It's an amazing feeling,”; said Ryan Ho, who rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns. “;Only a certain number of people can be state champions. The offensive line picked it up. So did our wide receivers, our D-line, linebackers. There were no surprises. It came out right.”;

The O-line—tackles Travis Namohala (6-foot-2, 250, Jr.) and Cameron Baron (5-10, 215, Sr.), guards Kamalani Kaluhiokalani (6-1, 260, Jr.) and Claudio Borge IV (6-1, 240, Sr.) and center Blaze Ryder (5-11, 250, Jr.)—capped a top-notch performance in the state tourney.

Stant praised his quarterback, T.C. Campbell, who emerged in his final three games as an elite playmaker.

“;That's a good Kahuku defense. I feel happy that T.C. grew and the team grew. We had him fix his feet and his mechanics, and he was humble enough to learn and be teachable,”; Stant said.

Campbell finished 15-for-26 for 183 yards, three touchdowns and two picks.

“;Kahuku has a great defense. Coach had a very balanced game plan. We kept them off balance,”; Campbell said. “;They started off kind of soft (in pass coverage), so all the short passes were open.”;

Kahuku hadn't seen a pistol formation like this, limiting offenses to barely 1 yard per carry coming into the title game. Kamehameha finished with a 4.5-yard average and didn't lose a fumble. That made it tough for Kahuku to bring consistent heat on Campbell, who was sacked just once.

We did execute our plan for the most part until we had a few mistakes with some tackling, wrapping up and staying together,”; Kahuku defensive end Hauoli Jamora said. “;They didn't surprise us. They wanted it more. They doubled me a fair amount, but we moved around a lot.”;

The 105 rushing yards by Kahuku was a single-game high by any team against Kamehameha's defense this season, but first-half field position was tough on the Red Raiders. Hampered by a shanked punt, and later, a blocked punt near the end zone, Kahuku's offense had six punts and threw one pick in the first half. The average starting point for seven series: the Red Raiders 19-yard line.

Kamehameha's average starting field position in the first half: the Warriors' 44-yard line. Having a 25-yard edge, on average, for each new possession certainly helped Kamehameha.

Coach Reggie Torres' Kahuku squad added to the playbook this season and made strides with an offense loaded with juniors. The progression will continue into next season, while senior-heavy Kamehameha looks to reload.

By next fall, it could be Kahuku, with a nucleus of returnees on the offensive line and Moe in the pocket, that could have the balance to win a title.