If you played the word association game right now with Kapolei football, just about every answer would revolve around either sophomore QB Taulia Tagovailoa or offensive coordinator June Jones for obvious reasons.
The leader of the program throughout its entire existence, Darren Hernandez, shouldn’t have a problem with that. After all, who wouldn’t want the combination of Jones and Tagovailoa controlling an offense at the high school level?
But when it comes to Saturday’s showdown against No. 4 Waianae, Hernandez might look elsewhere for the key to victory.
Hernandez has played the Seariders 13 times as head coach at Kapolei and has managed to come out on top only four times. Waianae’s nine wins over Hernandez at Kapolei trail only Mililani, which is 10-2 against the Hurricanes all-time.
HERNANDEZ’S RECORD VS. TEAMS (KAPOLEI ONLY)
Pearl City: 6-2
Saint Louis: 0-1
There is a common theme among Kapolei’s four wins against the Seariders and it has nothing to do with the offensive side of the ball. The Hurricanes have held Waianae to less than 14 points in four meetings. Their record in those games? 4-0. Give up 14 points or more and they are winless in nine tries.
It might be easy to expect the combination of Jones and Tagovailoa to outscore everyone you play. They got off to a good start last weekend as Tagovailoa threw for 263 yards and five touchdowns in a 38-0 drubbing of Campbell. But as equally impressive as the 38 points and five touchdown passes for Kapolei is the big zero put up by the defense.
Kapolei held Campbell to 154 total yards (just 5 yards rushing) and key interceptions by Leonard Lee, Kalani Segovia and Tyler Vasega thwarted some promising Campbell drives.
Waianae pulled off an impressive win on the road against Kamehameha to leapfrog Kapolei into the No. 4 spot in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser rankings. The Seariders used a four-wide, spread offense in the second half that caught Kamehameha off guard, but good luck surprising a defense with something they see every day in practice.
The Seariders made the big 54-yard TD pass play to win the game in the final 2 minutes, but two of Waianae’s four touchdowns came off an interception and special teams. Through 2+ quarters, the Warriors were able to hold the Seariders scoreless.
Waianae is talented on defense and Tagovailoa surely will end up tasting the Kapolei turf a few times. He should also be able to break through at least a couple of times for scores.
The key to this game, if history is any indication, is what happens when the Seariders have the ball. If Kapolei comes out, stops the run, and slows down a suddenly diverse Waianae offense, then it might not take a Superman performance from Tagovailoa to win the game.
And that might be exactly what Hernandez wants.