Wendell Look opened his 28th season as ‘Iolani head coach with a new starting quarterback for the first time in three years.
Jonah Chong, a 5-foot-10, 150-pound junior, got off to a perfect start in the record book, completing all eight of his throws for 136 yards and three touchdowns in a 63-0 win over Kalani on Saturday night at Kaiser Stadium.
Chong steps in to replace three-year starter Tai-John Mizutani, who finished his prep career fourth all-time in the state with more than 7,500 career passing yards, and led ‘Iolani to touchdowns on all five drives he played before he was taken out early in the second quarter with a 42-0 lead.
“It was pretty exciting in the beginning because I was a little nervous,” Chong said. “I was pretty happy with the performance. The linemen and the receivers did a good job so that’s why everything kind of worked out today.”
Look admitted he hoped to get Chong more reps, but the Raiders overmatched Division II Kalani, which is trying to replace a three-year starter at quarterback of its own in Seth Tina-Soberano, its top three rushers from last year and its top four receivers.
‘Iolani started three new faces on the offensive line and has relied on a potent returning group of receivers to help Chong ease his way into the starter’s role.
Seniors Rayden Kaneshiro and Jonah Miyazawa and junior Carter Kamana, who combined for more than 2,000 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns last year, all caught touchdown passes against the Falcons.
“They help tremendously,” Chong said. “They know what they are doing. Rayden and Jonah are really experienced —— they have played since they were sophomores. Carter started last year and is pretty experienced and is a physical guy. If I can get him the ball he can make some plays for us.”
Senior Ryan Nishizaki (5-8, 180) and junior Kilo Scanlan (6-1, 196) were the only two starters on the offensive line against Kalani returning from last year. Senior guard Akihiro Iwakiri (5-9, 200) was injured and didn’t play.
Senior Kaua Nishigaya, ‘Iolani’s leading rusher from last season, had 55 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Sophomore Rexton Suzuki broke off a 40-yard run in the fourth quarter and capped the scoring with a 5-yard touchdown run.
“We wanted to open up the running game because that will help us with the passing game,” Chong said.
Added Look: “Our goal today was to run the ball and we’ve got to get better because we’ve got to be able to run it. In spots we did and in spots we showed how young we are.”
‘Iolani will open Division I play in the new OIA-ILH alliance in the Father Bray game next Saturday against Waipahu, which notched the statement win of opening weekend beating No. 7 Waianae by three touchdowns.