On Tuesday, we looked at the way Kapolei has been able to beat Waianae in four of the 13 all-time matchups between the two schools.
Saturday marks the first time the Hurricanes and Seariders play each other when both are ranked in the top five. No. 4 Waianae knocked off previous-No. 4 Kamehameha to open the season last Friday and can complete a rare back-to-back sweep of top-five teams.
Kapolei’s keys focused on the defensive side of the ball and holding the Seariders to less than 14 points. When that happens, the Hurricanes have never lost to Waianae (4-0).
Obviously, the plan for the Seariders is to score more than two touchdowns, which seems likely with the offense returning from last year.
It took a little over a half for Waianae to get going against Kamehameha, but the Seariders exploded for 26 points over the final 19:15 of the game.
QB Jaren Ulu, who hit the big 54-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Isaiah Freeney, was 13-for-21 for 124 yards and frankly, played even better than the numbers suggest. Not only was he able to use the improved footwork head coach Walter Young talked about in the preseason to elude defenders, but his deep balls were pretty much on the money. There were at least two throws down the field that could have been catches by receivers.
After surprising Kamehameha with their passing attack, the secret is out about the Seariders. Against Kapolei, Waianae might best be served to go back to doing what it has always done best.
Waianae managed 81 rushing yards on 22 carries, averaging 3.6 yards per carry against a really good Kamehameha defensive front with multiple future Division I college players. Part of the necessity of moving more toward the passing game in the second half against Kamehameha was the inability to control the clock and move the chains with the running game in the first half.
The best way to keep Taulia Tagovailoa and the June Jones-inspired run-and-shoot offense off the field? Possess the ball.
The Seariders return seniors Javen Towne, Jorell Pontes-Borje, Kade Ambrocio and Solofua Grey, who combined to score on 32 rushing touchdowns last season. But the name to look out for is junior Rico Rosario.
Rosario, who led the Seariders with 56 yards on 10 carries against Kamehameha, made his presence felt on the very first drive, when he showed some elusive moves in a 14-yard run. He scored Waianae’s first offensive touchdown, carrying the ball up the backs of his large offensive lineman for a 4-yard run that gave Waianae its largest lead of the game against the Warriors.
Ambrocio made his presence felt on special teams with a 99-yard kickoff return for a score in the fourth quarter, but both Towne (five carries, 8 yards) and Grey (3 touches, -3 yards) did not factor much into the offense.
Rosario proved in his first game he can carry the load running the ball, but a second option, other than Ulu at QB, would really bolster the Waianae run game. Waianae’s leading rusher has been held under 50 yards only twice in Young’s 14 games as head coach. Young is 0-2 in those games but 10-2 in the others. They might not need one single player to rack up more than 100 yards, but the best chance for Waianae to establish itself as the to contender to Kahuku’s OIA crown will be for all of its talented playmakers to churn out yards, control the clock, and keep that Kapolei offense off the field.
Do that and the Seariders will leave no doubt that they are legitimate contenders, not only in the OIA, but for a state championship as well.
Kickoff for No. 4 vs. No. 5 is set for 6:30 p.m. at Kapolei.