Kekaulike Seniors Spark First Win on Homecoming
By Rodney S. Yap
It was a fitting end, the home team won on its homecoming, and the seniors stepped up their game on Senior Night.
King Kekaulike won its first game of the season Friday, rallying to defeat Kamehameha Maui, 19-7, in its last game of the season Upcountry. A determined Na Alii team, played with renewed energy fueled by the team’s student section and performing band to scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
In the final 15 minutes, Kekaulike rotated senior running backs Romeo Cabbat and Aaron Alama, with sophomore fullback Onosai Emelio and the trio kept extending Na Alii drives, while dominating time of possession.
Kekaulike rolled up 203 yards rushing in the second half, while its defense — led by seniors Keallan Dowells, Kenny Brittain and Keanu Popejoy-Kanamu — kept the Warriors out of the end zone, allowing their crosstown rivals 75 yards in the second half.
Senior Masson Lacno earned high marks for his outstanding play on special teams. His nifty run backs off punts and kicks gave the offense good starting field position time after time.
Afterwards, King Kekaulike head coach Clarence Rivers said his team finally played a complete game — four quarters of football. A King Kekaulike Stadium crowd of about 2,100 witnessed the school’s final home game of the 2012 season.
Kekaulike is now 1-1 (1-5 overall) in the Division II second-round race. Maui High will host the Upcountry school at War Memorial on Saturday, Oct. 20, when the Sabers celebrate their homecoming. The following Saturday, Oct. 27, Kekaulike will play Baldwin in the MIL regular-season finale.
Kamehameha Maui fell to 1-1 and 2-5 overall. The Warriors are the first MIL team to officially be eliminated from title contention.
Kekaulike mixed up its offensive play calls with sophomore quarterback Ryley Widell setting the tempo with his feet and his throwing arm. In fact, Na Alii were hit with multiple penalties after a big pass or big run, nullifying the play to the dismay of the Na Alii faithful.
Widell handed off the ball to Emelio for short-yardage and goal-line stuff; he pitched it to Alama or Cabbat when working the outside run game; and, he connected with Lacno and Cabbat through the air.
Other senior contributors were linemen Davin Canha, Joshua Kahaikupuna, Tanna Rivers and Phillip Malano.
In fact, Widell did plenty of damage himself, running and throwing off the play-action fake. The lefty fooled the Warriors near the goal line, when he faked a dive play only to hit a wide-open Emelio for a 3-yard touchdown pass. The go-ahead score came with 8 minutes remaining in the game and was set up by Widell’s 38-yard toss to Lacno, who somehow sneaked behind three Warrior defensive backs. Lacno’s catch put the ball at the 3.
Alama caught fire in the second half and Kekaulike put the ball in his hands 10 times for 92 yards. His 9-yard scoring run with 1:46 to play gave the home team a cushion, before Widell kicked the extra point to cap the scoring.
Kekaulike got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff, after a squib kick ricocheted off a KS-Maui player and Na Alii recovered the ball. On the final possession, Alama kept the first-down markers moving and the game-clock ticking when he broke free on a 47-yard run to the 20.
Kamehameha led 7-6 at halftime, going 92 yards in 10 plays on the first possession of the game. KS-Maui quarterback Chase Newton wiggled his way 34 yards through traffic for the Warriors’ lone touchdown.
A second-quarter interception by Lacno, in the end zone, killed KS-Maui’s only other scoring opportunity. Lacno also had three catches for 61 yards.
Kamehameha rolled up 205 yards in the first quarter and 284 for the half, compared to Kekaulike’s 108.
Warrior running back Makoa Medeiros had 84 rushing yards on eight carries in the first half and only one carry for 1 yard in the second half. Also in the first half, classmate Stephen Barut had six carries for 63 yards and Newton had seven for 54.
Friday’s Scoring Summary
Kamehameha Maui 7 0 0 0—7
King Kekaulike 0 6 0 13—19
KSM—Chase Newton 34 run (Kamahao Romero kick), 7:06.
KKH—Onosai Emelio 3 run (kick failed), 2:17.
KKH—Emelio 3 pass from Ryley Widell (pass failed), 8:00.
KKH—Aaron Alama 9 run (Widell kick), 1:46.
Junior varsity: King Kekaulike 21, Kamehameha Maui 0.