Kapolei defensive coordinator Brad Hewahewa made his line a promise.
“I told them if I ever get interviewed the first guys I’m going to (mention) is the D-line,” Hewahewa said.
Hewahewa got that chance after the Hurricanes’ 20-0 homecoming night shutout of Kailua on Friday.
The Hurricanes held Kailua to 127 yards in total offense, 43 coming on the Surfriders’ final possession, and Hewahewa was quick to credit the defensive front.
“I always tell them it starts with the D-line,” Hewahewa said. “The D-line makes everything and our linebackers need to make tackles.”
The line was rebuilt with a rotation of sophomores and juniors after the two-deep was depleted by graduation. “All those guys never played for us last year,” Hewahewa said. The group includes converted wideout Dillon Pakele, who ended the first half with a sack after Kailua drove to the Hurricanes 5.
Kapolei posted seven tackles behind the line of scrimmage for losses totaling 44 yards and linebacker Ronald Matautia contributed on both sides as a leader of the defensive effort and two short-yardage touchdown runs.
One of the first steps in the week’s preparation was leaving last week’s 14-13 loss to Campbell behind.
Kapolei held Campbell to 71 rushing yards and had contained the Sabers before Jayce Bantolina got loose for a 75-yard touchdown reception with 57 seconds left.
“It was disappointing the way we lost because we played so well,” Hewahewa said. “But they played their butt of tonight.”
Kapolei assured itself a place in the OIA Division I playoffs with Friday’s win.
“That’s the main thing, we’re in,” Hewahewa said.
Hewahewa has faced Kailua a few times in his tenure on Darren Hernandez‘s staff at Kapolei. But being on the sideline opposite the Surfriders still feels odd after spending 22 years in the Kailua program at the JV and varsity levels.
Kapolei has another Kailua connection with the addition of Darren Johnson, who served as the Surfriders head coach from 1996 to 2003.
“It always feels weird,” said Hewahewa, who coached with Johnson at Kailua. “Personally I don’t like playing Kailua because that’s where I started my whole coaching carer and it’s not like went off on bad terms. I know the JV staff, I coached all of those guys. It hits my heart.”
Joseph Wong, one of the players Hewahewa coached on the Kailua JV, is in his first season leading the Kailua program and the Surfriders are enduring the growing pains in an 0-6 showing with one game left.
Quarterback Noah Auld completed nine of his first 13 passes for 74 yards, but the Surfriders couldn’t sustain drives and Auld didn’t play in the second half after being dropped for a sack just before halftime.
“If it’s not one thing it’s another,” Wong said. “We just get Noah back and we lose him tonight. Sometimes that’s the way it goes. We just have to keep plugging away.”
With the passing game limited, running back Paepaeiva Silifaiva-Kaeha 17 times in the second half and finished with 73 yards on 28 carries. Last week he ran for 149 yards, 62 coming on a touchdown run, in a 38-7 loss to Farrington.
“He’s one of those players who wants the ball at all times and never complains that he’s tired,” Wong said.