Kapolei’s intricate routes look very familiar

Kapolei's Tyler Vasega ran back in interception during the third quarter of the Hurricanes' 38-0 victory over Campbell on Friday night. Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Kapolei’s Tyler Vasega ran back in interception during the third quarter of the Hurricanes’ 38-0 victory over Campbell on Friday night. Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

You’ve seen it before. That clockwork offense employed by the University of Hawaii under June Jones. Short routes, medium routes, deep routes.

Kill ’em short and then throw a bullet over the middle. Then, when they’re least expecting it, have one receiver go in and one go out and let the defense decide who’s going to take who. Go deep. The quarterback’s arm is loaded and he knows exactly where the receiver is going to be.

It took a quarter and a half to get in the groove, but when Kapolei finally did on Friday against Campbell, the Hurricanes turned a close 3-0 slugfest into a 38-0 runaway.

You know that beautiful thing on the blackboard has turned into gold while you’re sitting there in the stands at Aloha Stadium, … err … the Kapolei field and you see Timmy Chang … err … Taulia Tagovailoa drop back with a wall of blockers who know exactly how much time they need to give him. Tagovailoa, a sophomore, waits patiently, giving time for guys like Wyatt Perez and Jaymin Sarono to break free at that very particular angle that he knows they’re going to break at. He’s got a gun for an arm, or a paint brush that sprays the ball at just the right place, if you will, on the fingertips of those receivers.

A person asked me prior to the game if Kapolei was a solid No. 6. He was wondering if they should be there or if somehow the Honolulu Star-Advertiser put the Hurricanes higher than they belonged. The team’s history is sometimes a Top 10 kind of thing during the season and sometimes out of the Top 10 when all is said and done.

Not that a 38-0 victory over a rival (for the right to hold the new sledgehammer perpetual trophy that the schools will be also fighting for in future years) means too much.

But it was not a slouch of a Campbell team that Kapolei eventually rolled over, if that is what you’re thinking. The Sabers gave the Hurricanes a scare, when Kishaun Ki sacked Tagovailoa on the first play from scrimmage in the game. Tagovailoa hurt his knee and missed the rest of that first series. Fortunately, he was not badly hurt.

Tagovailoa ended up throwing for 263 yards and five touchdowns, including three to Perez, a senior who did not play last season.

Kawika Ulufale, the Campbell quarterback, moved his team most of the night, but fell victim to four turnovers, including three interceptions. In addition, Kapolei’s penetrating front seven put Ulufale on his back behind the line of scrimmage five times. Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Taulia’s cousin, was a menace with two sacks, including one on an early and key fourth down for the Sabers.

That defensive stand, with the score just 3-0 in the second quarter, was probably the biggest turning point. Campbell got as far as the Kapolei 1 before sacks by Dylan Naehu and Omar Mareko pushed the Sabers back to the 16, and that’s when Tagovailoa-Amosa dropped Ulufale for another 15 yards to end the threat.

It should be noted that Campbell got as far as the Kapolei 30, 12, 38 and 40 and didn’t just get pinned in its own end.

Ulufale completed 22 of 35 passes for 149 yards. Zayne Barr-Rauschenburg made eight receptions for 40 yards and Markus Ramos added six catches for 41 yards.

Kapolei’s Perez finished with eight catches for 88 yards to go along with his three TDs. Sarono scored twice and caught 10 passes for 85 yards.

“I had some medical issues going on last year,” Perez said after the game. “June Jones is an amazing coach. He’s taught me some amazing things in the short time he’s been here. He says you’ve got to push yourself and that it’s all in your mind and you’ve got to keep going. And Taulia, we’ve had a connection since we played with each other when we were small.”

It’s one of those things that stick with you. When Hawaii Prep World went to a Kapolei spring practice not long after head coach Darren Hernandez hired Jones, Perez made a good play. It wasn’t a catch. It was just running around and doing the right thing in a drill.

“Good job Perez,” Jones yelled that day.

It’s memorable because we are not used to seeing Jones in the high school ranks. At that moment, we were wondering what he was looking for, so any name he mentioned would be interesting, for whatever reason he mentioned it. It’s likely that the only reason he knew Perez’s name is because it was written on the back of his T-shirt.

So now, in retrospect, it is absolutely no surprise that Perez had a big night in his first game back. It kind of helped jog the memory, too, one day a few weeks ago when Hawaii Prep World visited Hernandez’s office to do interviews for a season preview article and there was Perez’s name on the whiteboard near the top (maybe even AT the top) of the depth chart.

The Hurricanes move on to play Waianae, another Westside rival, next week. A huge test. And another trophy is on the line. Hernandez told his team after Friday’s win that the Warclub Trophy is up for grabs. A new deal for the future.

Sounds like the Westside is not the outback any more. It’s where it’s happening, in a sense. If you haven’t noticed, the planned mall that is going in at the end of that East/West road already has buildings up. When did that happen? Had to have been within the last two months.

Campbell plays Farrington at Roosevelt’s Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium next week, another rough test. But that’s what Campbell and head coach Amosa Amosa live for. More sledgehammer wars. They hit hard in this rivalry. They’ve met deep in the playoffs in recent years.

“We have a lot more progress to make,” Campbell linebacker Iosua Sevao said. “This was a really good Kapolei team right here, especially with that quarterback.”

That quarterback indeed. He is not your ordinary sophomore quarterback. Ordinary sophomore quarterbacks don’t get scholarship offers from Alabama and they don’t draw the best offensive minds (Jones) to coach them.


  1. MrWendall August 6, 2016 9:18 am

    This offense exposes defenses that cant cover in the secondary very well, these type of defenses exist in high school and the WAC thats why it saw success at UH and now Kapolei. I believe JJ had a little shot at the playbook last year at St. Louis and was exposed by Vavae Tatas pac12 Stanford defense in the championship game against Kahuku.

    Its only the first week of the season but I like the potential of what this Kapolei team is capable of. I think they could replace Mililani as the next greatest thing to come out of the OIA West and the medias next baby darling.

  2. Chloropicrin August 6, 2016 9:53 am

    “Baby darling” lol

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