The Kapolei Hurricanes probably knew that competing in the Open Division might bring some struggles, but the Hurricanes suffered their first losing season since 2014.
The numbers say there was not as much of a difference between this edition of Hurricanes and some of the past ones. Kapolei averaged 19.2 points per game, its lowest since 2014 but only a few points lower than last year’s 21.6. While the offense did its usual thing, the defense was victimized by the new schedule to yield 22.9 points per game after stifling opponents to a 14.7 mark last year.
Judging by margin of victory, Kapolei’s minus-3.7 made this the toughest season in the second city since being outscored by 5.1 per game in 2011. The Hurricanes lost seven games for just the second time in program history.
2018 TOP PERFORMANCES
Kapolei’s revolving door of underclassmen quarterbacks was led by Noa Bailey, who threw for 990 yards and eight touchdowns but was victimized by 10 picks. Christian Rapis didn’t fare much better in avoiding turnovers, throwing six interceptions to go with his four touchdowns. Mason Gomez actually took care of the ball more than the starters, but he only had 38 attempts. Bailey showed what was possible against Waianae, putting the ball in the air 39 times and completing 19 of them for 360 yards and three touchdowns, but he was picked off twice. Bailey’s yardage was the most in program history since a certain wunderkind named Taulia Tagovailoa in 2016, jumping on the school’s top-10 single game list at No. 8. The other nine spots are occupied by Tagovailoa. Kapolei had three different quarterbacks lead the team in passing in 2018. The last time the position was so unsettled was 2011 when Brandon Cambra, Trey Kamachi-Allen and Mason Alfaro all took turns running the offense.
Ezekiel Waiolama was Hernandez’s horse in the return to the ground game, carrying the ball 88 times for 429 yards and five touchdowns while suiting up for every contest despite the tough run defenses encountered by the Hurricanes. Zion-Jabez Robello was a more efficient version of Waiolama, toting the rock 47 times for 342 yards and two scores. Waiolama represented Kapolei well on the team’s trip to California, carrying the ball 12 times for 114 yards and a touchdown at Downey, just two weeks after Robello touched up Punahou for 111 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown thrown in. Robello didn’t have more than five carries in a game the rest of the way. The back-to-back century efforts were the first time two different Hurricanes did it since Seth Roman and Keaka Fernandez in 2010. Robello’s performance against Punahou was the first time Kapolei had a rusher over the century mark since Triston Pebria in 2013, a dearth of 46 games and easily the program’s longest without a workhorse back.
When so much receiving talent moved down the road to Campbell, De’Zhaun Stribling stepped up to fill the void. Stribling caught 46 passes for 682 yards and three touchdowns while Ikari Stokes found 31 passes out of the slot for 430 yards and the team lead with four scores. Keoki Kaluhiwa and Elijah Badoyen, the top returning receivers after the defections, combined for 30 catches for 308 yards and four touchdowns. Stribling was without a doubt the top target for the young quarterbacks, as evidenced by his stellar game against Saint Louis. Stribling caught seven passes against the top dogs for 178 yards, moving him to No. 3 on the list of receiving yardage in a single game for the school, behind only Ty-Noah Williams and L.J. Esperas in 2015. Stribling was at his best against the private schools, notching his only other 100-yard game against Punahou.
Kapolei’s defense let out a lot of frustration in a visit to Waianae, throttling the Seariders 46-0 in a parade of stellar defensive plays. Linebacker Peni Naulu ended the destruction with a pick-six. He was joined by Bubba White for another one on the previous series. Isaac Sheridan and Landon Shove also had interceptions and Kevin Burkel was a force on the defensive line with three sacks. All told, the Hurricanes held the Seariders to 102 yards passing and 15 yards rushing. Nine different Seariders got carries in the game, but five of them ended the evening with zero or negative yardage. It was the fifth straight year the Kapolei defense pitched a shutout, next year they can match the longest streak from 2007-12.
>> Darren Hernandez is 121-106-2 in 23 seasons overall and 88-78 in 17 seasons at Kapolei.
>> QB Noa Bailey finished sixth in the Open Division in passing yards.
>> QB Christian Rapis finished ninth in the Open Division in passing yards.
>> WR De’Zhaun Stribling finished fourth in the Open Division in receiving yards.
KEY UNDERCLASSMEN IN 2018
>> WR De’Shaun Stribling (6-2, 180), DL Maceal Afaese (6-5, 260), DL Junior Ioane (6-2, 270), LB Sonny Semeatu (6-1, 220).
FINAL TEAM STATS