KEAAU — It’s less than two hours until kickoff for the Hilo Vikings and Campbell Sabers.
It’s a classic us-versus-them scenario for the BIIF champion Vikings, who have been unranked all season long. They’re on a nine-game win streak, though it would be hard to find anyone outside the Big Island who knows this. They are, as Campbell coach Amosa Amosa said, a classic running team with a strong front seven defensively.
How good will Hilo be tonight? My guess is the Viks would fare better against another run-first team like Farrington or Kahuku. Campbell will spread the field and pick away. Running the ball is part of their offense, but not the first priority.
The bigger question is whether Hilo will be able to move the ball with running back Tristan Spikes against a solid Campbell run defense. The field here at Keaau High School is a little mushy. If it rains at all tonight, we’ll have mud between the hashmarks, no question.
As Hilo coach David Baldwin said at the tourney press conference, the Vikings prepare for all weather conditions. And they won’t mind a little rain at all.
Once we get to game time, I’ll have my hands full with statistics and video, so I’ll post here at the end of each quarter and during long breaks/time outs.
It’s been an interesting trip already. When I landed at Hilo airport, I came across former Kamehameha coach Pono Ma‘a, father of Punahou football/volleyball player Micah Ma‘a. His oldest daughter, Misty, is tearing it up for the University of Miami volleyball team this fall.
Coach Ma‘a used to work with the admissions department at Kamehameha Schools. Now, he’s completely outdoors. He and his team, heading back to Oahu, had koa seedlings with them at the airport. They just got done planting 2,000 seedlings on the slopes of Mauna Loa. Crazy and awesome. This is what he does practically every day of the week, planting on the neighbor islands, getting back home in time to coach at his volleyball club by evening.
A little later, on a short pit stop at Kamehameha-Hawaii, I got to talk story with former KSH boys basketball coach Nelson Wong. He was a terrific coach, employed during those years at Big Island Candies. Then he became a teacher at the school. Now, he’s one year into his new role as assistant athletic director and enjoying it greatly.
Not everything here is remote and distant. The traffic on the highway just beyond the fence here is bumper-to-bumper traffic now (5:35 p.m.). Growth is growth and the Puna district can’t escape it. It’s getting muggier by the minute, too. I’m expecting a downpour.
Stat nerd note: Tristin Spikes has rushed for 1,185 yards, according to the hard-working statisticians of Hilo High School. Just found that out yesterday. But Josh Pacheco, the multi-media beast based in Hilo, said he has Spikes at 1,227 yards. He said the Hilo statisticians haven’t included numbers from the first game of the season.
So I’m going with Josh’s stats.
End 1st Quarter
Hilo 7, Campbell 0
Hilo leads after marching downfield and scoring on its opening series. Quarterback Donovan Faoa-Kelly raced in on a read-option keeper for an 11-yard touchdown. Campbell hasn’t been consistent offensively, driving into the red zone but coming up empty on a fourth-and-10 pass by Isaac Hurd.
Hilo’s brought a good pass rush, but offensively, their ability to run the misdirection read option and throw down the sidelines has caught Campbell off guard.
End 2nd Quarter
Campbell 14, Hilo 7
Hurd hit Amosa Amosa Jr. with touchdown tosses of 38 and 11 yards to give the Sabers the lead going into the break. The second scoring strike came with 2.5 seconds to go in the half, capping a two-play, 60-yard drive in 15 seconds.
End 3rd Quarter
Hilo 17, Campbell 14
This turned into a great battle in this quarter. Hilo regained momentum with big defensive plays, and then took a 17-14 lead on a 30-yard field goal by Rayce Takayesu.
Hurd has thrown for three touchdowns and ran for another in the second half as the Sabers overpowered the tiring Vikings.