2019 TEAM RECORD
>> 3-7 Overall, 2-6 ILH Open Division
>> Abu Ma’afala is 14-24 in four seasons as Warriors coach.
KEY UNDERCLASSMEN IN 2019
>> QB Jonah Yuen, 6-0, Jr.; RB Kawika Clemente, 5-9, Jr.; RB Andrew-Lee Smith, 5-8, Jr.; OL/DL Kuao Peihopa, 6-3, Jr.; OLB Dayne Maeva, 5-11, Jr.
KAMEHAMEHA THROUGH THE YEARS: 1973-2019
HISTORICAL EQUIVALENT: 1996 Damien
After two years in the OIA-ILH football alliance’s Open Division, the Kamehameha Warriors are still struggling to find their way.
Kamehameha’s struggles continued in 2019, losing seven games for the first time since Blaine Gaison‘s unlucky 1992 crew. Kamehameha was outscored by an average of 11.6 points per game for Abu Ma’afala‘s worst mark since taking over for Doug Cosbie in 2016. It’s the fourth straight year Kamehameha has given up more points than it has scored. That drought is the program’s longest since 1987-90 under three different coaches.
Ma’afala’s Warriors struggled mightily to score points, averaging just 15.3 for the program’s lowest since Gaison’s defense-heavy collection in 1991. The defense yielded four points per game more than it did in 2018 at 26.9, pretty much right in line with Ma’afala’s three previous units but a step back after three years of improvement.
Kamehameha remained a run-first offense but loosened it up a tiny bit to throw on 48 percent of its snaps after 46 percent in 2018.
The Warriors tried something a little different this year with two quarterbacks. Kiai Keone, who split time with Christmas Togiai last year, started the season with a nightmare of a performance at Kahuku, completing seven passes to Warriors and five to Red Raiders. Keone, to his credit, improved as the season went on capped by an efficient performance against Farrington, but was shut down after Week 7. Jonah Yuen took over for the final three games and exceeded 180 yards in all three to finish as the team’s leading passer despite 33 fewer attempts. That gave Kamehameha’s passing leader its smallest yardage number since Michael Hoke took the quarterback job midway through his junior season in 2006.
Kamehameha was going to stay balanced no matter how well the quarterbacks performed because Kawika Clemente needed to be fed. Clemente only had 450 yards and four touchdowns on 98 carries, the fewest yards for the lead dog since Jordan Baduyen was limited to a 67-380 line in Cosbie’s final year.
Clemente had his best performance in the opener at Kahuku, covering 143 yards and scoring twice to make it seem like Ma’afala would have a running back score more than four times for the first time in his four years at the helm. It didn’t materialize, however, as Clemente scored only twice the rest of the way and saw his attempts drop drastically after his third game. Clemente didn’t miss a contest all year but only received more than 10 carries once more. State hurdles champion Tanner Moku gobbled up the carries Clemente left on the table after returning from an injury. He capped his season with 16 carries for 111 yards in the closer against Punahou. Andrew Lee-Smith also got some run in the backfield, carrying the ball 55 times for 119 yards and a touchdown while not missing a game. That adds up to 2.2 yards per carry while actually getting more carries than Clemente over the final month. Clemente’s yards per carry was 4.24 over that span while Moku’s was an outstanding 6.1.
Clemente’s role in the passing game expanded as soon as his role in the running game was diminished, teaming with Moku to provide an instant game-breaking threat. Blaze Kamoku didn’t have a catch in the first two games but developed into the team’s leading receiver with 23 catches for 365 yards and a touchdown. He was shut out of the end zone after Week 3 but hit the century mark on six catches against Campbell and nearly did the same against Waianae.
Still, he had the fewest yards for the leading receiver since Kaulana Werner went 24-316 in 2013’s extremely run-heavy season. Kamoku had plenty of help in running mates Kahekili Pahio (22-224) and Kalanikuikahi Lorenzo (22-151). For as good as Kamoku was at times, there was nothing that hurt Kamehameha’s offense more than Skyler Ramos being held to nine catches for 78 yards in just three games.
Ramos led Kamehameha in receiving the past two years and could have made it three but got hurt during the season. Kamehameha had an incredible 19 different players catch passes this year and more than 30 in the last two seasons combined.
That varsity experience bodes well for next year with both quarterbacks returning but the Warriors will take a lot of hits to graduation in Ramos, Moku, Edward Correa and defensive player of the year candidate Ezra Evaimalo. Clemente’s speed will return and Kamoku was only a sophomore and is on a similar path as Ramos.
2019 TEAM STATS