2012 Has Been a Special Year for Baldwin Football
By Rodney S. Yap
When it comes to special teams, this year’s Baldwin High School football team will be remembered as one of the best in school history.
The Bears relied on their explosive special team’s — anchored by return specialist Abraham Reinhardt — to offset a slow start at Kamehameha Schools Maui Friday night.
Reinhardt continued his second-quarter assault on opponents, returning a 54-yard punt and 85-yard kick for touchdowns, as Baldwin spoiled the Warriors’ homecoming celebration with a 42-20 victory before a crowd of about 2,000 at Kanaiaupuni Stadium
The Division I champion Bears improved their Maui Interscholastic League record to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the second round.
Kamehameha Maui suffered its worse season under head coach Kevin O’Brien at 2-6 overall and 2-5 in the MIL. The Warriors bid aloha to 25 seniors, including seven three-year varsity players, who finished 5-4 as sophomores and 3-6 last year. O’Brien’s three-year record is 10-16.
Reinhardt’s punt return broke a 7-7 tie and pushed the Bears over the 1,000-yard mark in return yards for the season. Baldwin came into the game having out gained its opponents (961 to 284) in return yards by average of 160.1 to 47.3 per game.
Reinhardt, who studies video of the the NFL’s top returners, has now scored six touchdowns in 15 returns this season. Blocking for him on the punt return Friday were Miki Fangatua, Semisi Malafu, Danny Welds-Ebanks, Gabe Chavolla-Fukushima, Afoa Laga, Jordan Hoiem, Tevarua Eldridge, Lucas Hoopii, Danny Webb, and Jacob Valle.
Behind 14-7 with 7 minutes, 53 seconds to play in the second quarter, Kamehameha answered with an 80-yard, 14-play drive that lasted 6:52 before sophomore quarterback Chase Newton hit Taylor Kaaukai on a 10-yard touchdown pass. Baldwin blocked the extra-point kick to stay ahead 14-13.
The game-changing score came on the ensuing kickoff as the Warriors elected to kick to Reinhardt again. And again, the 6-foot, 180-pound strong safety took it to the house, setting up the 85-yard kick return by bolting up the middle, before veering to the right sidelines.
Reinhardt’s score capped a 21-point second quarter for the Bears, who led 21-13 at halftime. Three weeks ago, at King Kekaulike, Reinhardt scored on three kick returns in the second quarter to help the Bears defeat a gritty Kekaulike team, 48-27.
All season, Kamehameha Maui has had sluggish starts in the second half of its games and Friday was no exception. Baldwin quarterback Keelan Ewaliko produced another explosive score, this time a 70-yard touchdown run, just 2:22 into the third quarter. Zachary Coloma-Mariano’s point-after kick made it 28-13.
For Baldwin, Ewaliko’s touchdown produced a 15-point cushion and a sigh of relief on the Bears’ sidelines. That’s because five players were suspended earlier in the day and not allowed to play for breaking school rules.
Two of the five players were starters on the offensive line, forcing the coaches to put together a patchwork offensive line just hours prior to the game. Stepping up were freshmen Tevita Finau and Kamuela Lapenia-Lau, as both boys held their own in their varsity debuts.
Kamehameha’s Makoa Medeiros finished with a season-high 100 yards on 20 carries. The senior running back scored the game’s first touchdown with a 14-yard run into the teeth of the Bears’ defense. The score came on the sixth play of a 64-yard drive with 23 seconds left in the first quarter.
Ewaliko tied the score on the Bears’ next possession, as he and running back Dusty Flores rushed for all 63 yards on the 11-play drive. Ewaliko accounted for 46 on six carries. He finished the game with 105 yards on 11 carries.
Friday’s Scoring Summary
Baldwin ….. 0 ….. 21 ….. 14 ….. 7-42
KS Maui ….. 7 ……. 6 ……. 0 ….. 7-20
KSM—Makoa Medeiros 14 run (Kamahao Romero kick), 0:23.
BHS—Keelan Ewaliko 2 run (Zacharia Coloma-Mariano kick), 8:31.
BHS—Abraham Reinhardt 54 punt return (Coloma-Mariano kick), 7:53.
KSM—Taylor Kaaukai 10 pass from Chase Newton (kick blocked), 1:01.
BHS—Reinhardt 85 kickoff return (Coloma-Mariano kick), 0:47.
BHS—Ewaliko 70 run (Coloma-Mariano kick), 9:38.
BHS—Dusty Flores 5 run (Coloma-Mariano
BHS—Ryan Graham 1 run (Coloma-Mariano kick), 10:33.
KSM—Billy Ayakawa 9 pass from Newton (Romero kick), 5:59.
Junior varsity-Baldwin 21, Kamehameha Maui 18.