It was almost eerie the way the Moanalua Valley wind and rain fell just as the varsity game’s warmups began. I mean, it was boiling hot and sunny all through the JV game.
And the rain and wind hardly let up. It wasn’t a downpour, just a steady sprinkle, sometimes wet enough to create puddles. And on Moanalua’s dirt-baked field — mud lakes are up and down from one end to the other between the hashmarks — that absolutely worked in favor of a smashmouth team like Kapolei.
And it worked absolutely against a pass-heavy team like Moanalua. The numbers say it all.
>> Kapolei rushed for 290 yards on 47 carries. It wasn’t just the weather that encouraged the Hurricanes to ground and pound. They ran keepers for quarterback Alton Julius, a bruising 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior, all night long. They also rotated their stable of running backs and got solid games from Trensten Spragling (87 yards, two TDs), Ronald Matautia (64 yards, two TDs), Ekolu Young and Kone Maluina. Their legs were fresh even in the sticky, cumbersome mud.
It was a point of emphasis for the ‘Canes’ massive offensive line. Coach Darren Hernandez was disappointed with their play in last week’s loss to No. 2 Mililani, especially after they’d run with some success earlier in the season. On Friday night, they grinded away and wore down Moanalua’s defense.
>> Ejected and not ejected. The freaky play that included a no-call on when a Kapolei running back (Spragling) was down by contact, the ball returned 54 yards for a go-ahead touchdown by Moanalua, and a personal foul plus ejection of Kapolei quarterback/kicker/punter Alton Julius was probably the most Twilight Zone moment of the night.
Even with the missed call, the work of Hernandez, who apparently convinced the referee that Julius was pushed into contact rather than an instigator, turned out to be a huge situation. Not only did Julius remain in the game, but by avoiding the ejection, he also avoids the usual one-game suspension that comes with it.
It was a quick, bang-bang sequence, but even without video replay it was pretty clear that Spragling was down on the tackle to begin with. But officials are human. Mistakes happen. Hernandez handled it like the veteran coach he is.
>> If this field were synthetic turf, this game might have been completely different. Kapolei’s line play was superb, so it’s not like Moanalua would’ve won with ease. But if you put a relatively young quarterback into conditions like this, where he and his receivers don’t get good footing all game long, this happens. Instead of passing for almost 600 yards against another Top 10 defense, Kawika Keama-Jacobe did what he could, but mustered 146 passing yards and was sacked four times.
Sacks were by Jon Rosa-Sinclair, Matautia (the Ironman), Johnny Morrison (who also forced a fumble) and Sam Naulu.
Kapolei’s done a pretty good job of pass rush despite an 0-3 start. But tonight, it was a dominant defensive performance. They also limited Karson Cruz, who had 10 grabs for 310 yards against Farrington, to one reception for four yards.
And as soon as the game ended, the rain stopped. Sky as dry as it was in the afternoon. Plenty of football left for both teams, and it won’t rain every time out when Moanalua plays. But for one night, the elements were on Kapolei’s side, and it was the break the hard-luck Hurricanes have desperately needed.
Boxscore (posted 9/7/14)
Kapolei (1-3, 1-3) 0 7 18 0 — 25
Moanalua (1-3, 1-3) 0 7 7 0 — 14
Moa—Michael Feliciano 10 run (Thomas Sheridan kick)
Kap—Ronald Matautia 3 run (Alton Julius kick)
Kap—Matautia 6 run (kick failed)
Moa—Kea Rodriguez 54 fumble return (Sheridan kick)
Kap—Trensten Spragling 11 run (run failed)
Kap—Spragling 21 run (pass failed)
Junior Varsity—Kapolei 34, Moanalua 14.
RUSHING—Kapolei: Julius 11-77, L.J. Esperas 1-2, Kone Maluina 5-28, Trensten Spragling 14-87, Ronald Matautia 8-64, team 1-(-4), Ekoku Young 6-25, Naliko Kea 1-9. Moanalua: Steve Feliciano 5-24, Walter Peters 6-22, Rodson Kealohi 5-(-3), Michael Feliciano 7-27, Kawika Keama-Jacobe 7-(-16).
PASSING—Kapolei: Julius 5-12-0-86. Moanalua: Keama-Jacobe 12-19-1-146.
RECEIVING—Kapolei: Tristan Centeio 2-46, Kekua Marumoto 2-30, Kea 1-10. Moanalua: Jason Sharsh 5-94, S. Feliciano 3-12, Kealohi 1-10, Karson Cruz 1-4, M. Feliciano 2-26.