It’s not very typical for an 0-2 team to have reason for optimism, but that’s where the Kapolei Hurricanes are.
Sure, the ninth-ranked ‘Canes lost 28-26 to No. 6 Farrington on Saturday, but after two games — the other being at Kahuku — they’ve gotten plenty of big plays from their defense and offense. That includes first-year starting quarterback Alton Julius, who threw three touchdown passes without a pick against Farrington.
“He’s very good, so we’re excited about how good he’ll be,” Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said of Julius, who throws off his back foot roughly half the time and still has accuracy (10-for-17).
What gives Julius the opportunity to develop is a solid ground game that is rooted in a massive offensive line. Add the mindset of offensive coordinator Darren Johnson, and Kapolei is committed to ground-and-pound football.
Down 21-12 in the second quarter, the Hurricanes merely went to work with a patient, powerful march. Ten plays, 70 yards mostly out of Power-I sets. All the runs set up the one pass play in the drive, a 27-yard strike from Julius to Naliko Kea with about 1 minute left in the half.
Trensten Spragling, a transfer from Waianae, had a solid performance for the ‘Canes (74 yards on 18 carries). Ronald Matautia continues to be a stellar contributor at linebacker and running back.
Transfers have made a difference for Farrington, too. Ranan Mamiya, formerly of D-II St. Francis, rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries, and returned a kickoff 89 yards for another score. Toss in his two receptions for 25 yards, and the 5-11, 155-pound speedster tallied 242 all-purpose yards.
Then there was No. 99 in maroon. Tamatoa Silva made his season debut with Farrington. The former Mililani defensive lineman transferred in the offseason and could become a key cog for the Governors up front, pairing with all-state defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko to wreak havoc. Fehoko was in the Kapolei backfield early and often, nearly blowing up plays in the first half.
Kapolei left tackle Viliamu Auwae was another factor in a different way. Auwae sat out due to a concussion he suffered in the game against Kahuku.
Perhaps the most frustrating, yet most correctible, problem for the ‘Canes was untimely penalties. It seemed like nearly every time they had offensive momentum, a flag hit the ground to derail the ‘Canes.
In the end, Farrington continued its roll and is 2-0 in the OIA Blue while Kapolei is 0-2. Though the Hurricanes are in a tough spot, a rematch with the Govs somewhere down the line in the playoffs isn’t out of the question.