Balancing act: Warriors in a big blue groove

Iolani's Connor Ohira beat Kamehameha's Chad Farias to the ball for a touchdown late in the second quarter on Friday. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser
Iolani’s Connor Ohira beat Kamehameha’s Chad Farias to the ball for a touchdown late in the second quarter on Friday. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser

Some thoughts on Friday night’s Kamehameha-‘Iolani battle — a 42-28 win for the fourth-ranked Warriors — at Kunuiakea Stadium.

• 44 runs, 31 passes and 650 total yards by Kamehameha, and still, it was not an easy win. That has more to do with ‘Iolani’s game plan than anything. The Raiders had to fight for every one of their 436 total yards. Austin Jim On fired 44 passes, completing 19 and, against a stellar secondary, got picked twice.

It was the kind of game that both coaches more or less expected. Warriors coach Doug Cosbie saw room for improvement, but he praised the Raiders and their coaching staff first and foremost. Raiders coach Wendell Look is probably happy to get past another D-I team without a serious injury. He was proud of his team, and yes, that’s a quote. Shoot, he even gave Jim On a hug before the game.

Look has always been a tremendous coach, strategist and motivator. But I can’t help but get the feeling that he really enjoys this team. It doesn’t have a lot of stars and there are underclassmen in key starting positions. There’s no real depth this year. But they keep winning him over with their hearty, disciplined effort.

• Clever Raiders. ‘Iolani opened the game by winning the coin toss, electing to receive (who does that anymore, so crazy!) and throwing on the first two plays from scrimmage. Now, as much as they spread the field and line up in the shotgun, the Raiders have been more or less a balanced offense in recent years. So the throwing of forward passes was a bit distracting for Kamehameha’s defense. How do we know this?

Because on the third play, the Raiders ran a trap at Mika Tafua (two blockers) and sprang RB K.J. Pascua for a stunning 69-yard TD run. Yes. A holy crapoli moment. That’ll take the wind out of them there sails for a previously festive homecoming crowd.

Then came four possessions in a row of stuck-in-the-mud offense as Kamehameha made its adjustments. In the meantime, the Warriors put two TDs up on the board and it was one of those moments where it would be time for the smaller, less deep team from D-II to fold or…

It was the “or.” Jim On found Keoni-Kordell Makekau on a post route. Wide open. He hauled it in, kept going to the left sideline and along the way, a teammate (I have to look at my video when I get home) delivering a perfect block, springing Makekau for a 77-yard TD.

Two notes within a note.

1. I realize I’ve used the word “spring” (or “springing”) twice already and really, that’s a no-no. But the fact that the ‘Iolani Raiders are springing teammates with clutch blocks says something about their preparation this past week. This was their last shot at a D-I team this season, no less the No. 4 team in the state, and they sure as heck executed.

There’s more. Before the half, the Raiders got the ball back (2:03 left), and on first down, this is what they did. They sent the solo receiver (near side) in motion to the right, taking Dylan Kane out of the picture. Then they threw a short pass to Pascua, who had leaked out of protection, and he gained 27 yards to midfield.

If you’ve wondered why they don’t throw more to the RBs like I do, well, they need the extra pass pro. Especially against the likes of Mika Taufa and his cohorts. But this play was exquisitely designed, perfectly timed and after Pascua ran up the gut for 19 more yards, the Raiders later scored on a 22-yard TD pass from Jim On to Connor Ohira. Which leads me to…

1B. Holy macaroni, did you see Ohira’s TD catch?? My only regret is that I wasn’t standing there near the corner of the end zone where he made the ridonkulous diving catch. Jim On just flung the ball out to the corner, and Ohira was basically not in my video camera screen at first. Then he was. And then he laid out and made the most improbable catch I’ve seen this fall. That tied the game at 21 just 20 seconds before the half. Talk about a momentum changer. Or so it seemed. But back to the previous note…

2. It’s about time, KKM10! All season, I’ve been wondering when he would have a breakout game. And sure enough, it came against a talented secondary. (Kane, Kamehameha’s safety, is one of the most heavily recruited DBs in the state.) I know defenses are prepared to defend Makekau and would gladly give up the shorter routes to his teammates, but it’s good to see one of the state’s most talented WRs put up these numbers: eight catches, 162 yards, one TD. It would’ve been more against a lesser defense. They did intercept two passes intended for Makekau, one in each half.

• Clever Warriors. They ran a few reverses off jet/fly sweeps, including two to Alika Kaha‘ulelio for 38 yards. In an era of read-option dives and shotgun draws/dives, it’s nice to see some old-school action from the Warriors’ offensive coaches. Even Jordan Bayudan ran a draw play for a nice gain.

Kamehameha's Kaulana Werner hauled in a long pass reception against 'Iolani on Friday. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser
Kamehameha’s Kaulana Werner hauled in a long pass reception against ‘Iolani on Friday. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser

• Trench warfare. This would’ve been a great game for prep editor/archive maester Jerry Campany to do a Trench Warfare report. Both offensive lines were up to the challenge. ‘Iolani’s line only allowed two sacks all night, BUT… the pass rush was fierce. Jim On was forced to move in and out of the pocket, and ultimately, with his team down one, then two, then three touchdowns, he stood in bravely and launched away.

Kamehameha’s O-line, with its mastery of various new and old school schemes — that was the first time all year I’ve seen that 1980s draw play — was a force of nature. They didn’t allow a sack and paved the way to 429 rushing yards by their guys.

• Fatu Maximus. Kamehameha QB Fatu Sua-Godinet has made remarkable progress in little more than a year since switching from WR. But it’s the timing that he plays with that is a big ingredient for Kamehameha’s offense. It’s why he’s become a force with his arm and his legs. He passed for 221 yards (two TDs) and ran for 176 (one TD) on Friday. His passing game is coming along. He was on the mark with some great passes to Kumoku Noa and Kaulana Werner in the end zone, and yes, he missed on a few teammates on medium-distance routes and finished 17-for-31. But there were no picks, nothing close to a turnover, and he made consistently good decisions on the read-option, including one that led to a 59-yard TD run in the pivotal third quarter. He gobbled up yardage so quickly with those long strides, he basically went untouched through the hash marks.

It’s a bit unfair, no doubt, to compare anyone to a state-championship winning QB, but he still looks like T.C. Campbell to me. Campbell was a marksman throwing the ball in 2009, great on the short and mid-range throws. He’s got the decided edge there. But he was not the runner Sua-Godinet is. As long as the speedster can be turnover-free and run a balanced offense, the Warriors will be a major threat.

• Junior Scorer. Bayudan ran the ball 16 times for 159 yards and three TDs, his single-game best for yardage and touchdowns. He had eight carries for 91 yards and two TDs in the first half, and eight more carries in the second. He also hauled in a 13-yard pass.

He’s got the acceleration to make that off-tackle run, but he can also hit the hole quick and hard on the read-option. About the only thing he didn’t do on Friday night was line up in the I-formation late in the game when Kamehameha switched out of its spread sets. That job went to Kayson Nakatsu.

• Clogging the runway. The Warriors did solid work after Pascua’s early 69-yard TD run. In fact, Pascua had just 10 more carries for 56 yards the rest of the night. Not bad numbers at all, but here’s how his yardage looked carry by carry:

69-TD, 16, 2, 7, 0, 0, 0, 19 (halftime)
8, 4, 0.

Pascua is a helluva running back, regardless of his age (sophomore). But the Warriors bottled him up good, and that opened up the offense for ‘Iolani. Jim On completed four of his last six pass attempts of the first half for 136 yards and two TDs.

After the break, Pascua was effectively a non-factor as a ballcarrier (three carries, 12 yards) and Kamehameha let Jim On hit his short passes. Then they locked down in the final stretch, when Jim On completed just one of his last nine attempts.

• Big blue wall. Down 42-21 in the fourth quarter, the Raiders drove to the Warriors’ 1-yard line, where things got intriguing. Three carries, 0 yards. Stonewalled. It took a jet sweep to the left by Tyler Teruya for the Raiders to finally crack the goal line.

‘Iolani has pretty good size up front for a D-II team, but there’s still a significant difference between the Raiders and a D-I powerhouse’s depth and size up front.

If the ILH does go ahead and alter the schedule next year, so be it. With blowout games between D-I and D-II teams turning fans off, a segregated schedule will make safety and practicality priorities. If a D-II team really wants to schedule a non-league game against a D-I program, that option would likely be available.

But for those of us who see enough of these games where a D-I team lines up nine or 10 of its biggest guys on the goal line and pulverizes the D-II team’s cast of (mostly) 190-pound linemen, what more needs to be said?

• Penalty box. The Raiders had three yellow flags for 15 yards. Warriors had 11 penalties for 116 yards, including nine for 101 yards in the first half. They cleaned it up after that.

• String of four. That makes it four wins in a row for Kamehameha over ‘Iolani. Prior to that, it was two straight by ‘Iolani (2011 and ’12). And before that, 12 straight wins by the Warriors.

• Big blue showdown. Kamehameha and Punahou next weekend. ‘Nuff said.

Kamehameha's Mika Tafua and the Kamehameha defense put a lot of pressure on  Iolani quarterback Austin Jim On, but rarely got to him like he did on this play. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser.
Kamehameha’s Mika Tafua and the Kamehameha defense put a lot of pressure on Iolani quarterback Austin Jim On, but rarely got to him like he did on this play. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser.


  1. Humble Fan October 6, 2014 7:38 am

    You seem to either love Iolani’s presence in D2 or HATE the opinions of people who don’t like it. But if you dislike blowout games, taking Iolani out of D2 makes sense. And didn’t you say the ILH would take them out of D2 anyway a year ago?

    This is it:

  2. Humble Fan October 6, 2014 10:20 am

    And plus, shouldn’t we preserve the Punahou-Iolani football rivalry and let them play every year? So what if Iolani no longer plays St. Louis and Kamehameha starting next year? At least let them play Punahou.

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