For a program that has endured peaks and valleys like few others, the Kapolei Hurricanes were more than prepared to withstand the challenge from Aiea Na Alii.
Though Coach Darren Hernandez didn’t care for a somewhat slow start — four drops — and 13 penalties for 124 yards, in the course of a 41-0 victory over Aiea on Friday night, Kapolei had more than the usual highlights.
> Senior defensive lineman Dylan Naehu not only had two of his team’s four sacks, he also played a lot of snaps at right tackle to beef up a short-handed offensive line. He changed his jersey number, 92, to 70 so that he could line up on the O-line.
> Sophomore Lonenoa Faoa was on point with 24-for-35 passing, 240 yards and two TDs without a pick. His most effective target was Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, who finished with 10 receptions for 126 yards and one TD. Faoa’s low-risk, high-percentage approach was consistent and liberating. With his ability to hit the short pass and occasional intermediate route, there was less pressure on the ground game.
> Senior Josh Kansana (six carries, 41 yards, two TDs) had perhaps his most important game in a career riddled by two ACL injuries.
“Having Josh back is helps a lot. He’s a great kid,” Hernandez said.
> Defensive back Dylan Toilolo carried the ball six times for 65 yards when the ‘Canes featured a power-I formation.
> Hernandez passed former Kailua coach Alex Kane with his 118th career win.
Hernandez is a student of history, but he had no idea how close he was, or even that he is on a list of the Top 10 OIA football coaching win totals in Hawaii history.
Hernandez is in awe of the Hurricanes who enjoy full-time work in the trenches.
“Dylan and Aaron (Faumui) played two ways, that’s ironman football right there. They love it,” Hernandez said.
Toilolo was a defensive standout at Saint Louis before transferring to Kapolei for senior year. He’s still a defensive star, but his versatility is becoming a valuable tool.
“He’s a good runner. He’s a good athlete. He came up to me in summer when we first started camp and said, ‘Coach, can I run ball?’ OK, this guy wants to run ball. He did good,” Hernandez said.
They all did good on a night when Kapolei advanced in the OIA playoffs. After the game, he had a brief meeting with the team before the ‘Canes sang their alma mater to fans.
“We’re going to enjoy this victory for tonight. We’ll be watching film at 8 a.m. tomorrow. By 9 a.m., we begin our focus for our next game (against Kahuku),” he told the team. “We can play better. We can’t afford to start slow like this against anyone.”