No June Jones. No Taulia Tagovailoa. No problem.
The Kapolei offense is in fine hands with new offensive coordinator Amosa Amosa, new quarterback Kaniala Kalaola and … the head coach who has been there since the start of the Hurricanes football program — Darren Hernandez.
The thinking by many in the preseason was that without Jones as OC and without Tagovailoa at QB, the Kapolei offense would be nowhere near where it was last year, when the Hurricanes made it all the way to the state Open Division semifinals.
On Saturday night, Kapolei’s new offense looked a lot like the old one. Kalaola completed 24 of 29 passes for 318 yards with no interceptions and four touchdowns in a 41-7 home victory over Castle.
“It was his best game of the season, no doubt,” Hernandez said. “It was only his third varsity start and I’m real happy the offense got untracked.”
Added wide receiver Isaiah Ahana, who scored three touchdowns, one on a 6-yard rush and on receptions of 8 and 35 yards, “Every single day he (Kalaola) gets better and better. He always pushes. And he tells us to believe and trust in our brothers and that we’re going to come out with the W.”
Ahana did not play in Kapolei’s first two games and neither did running back Antoneo Filipo-Brown. Both gave the Hurricanes offense a more dynamic flair.
Filipo-Brown, who is 5 feet 11 and 285 terrifying pounds, bowled through the Castle line for a 32-yard gain to set up a late touchdown.
Previously, Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala had some productive games, and he set the tone Saturday with some nifty and shifty moves on a 51-yard touchdown catch and run for the Hurricanes’ first touchdown of the night. The sophomore finished with six catches for 119 yards. His brother Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, a freshman, added four catches for 34 yards.
The Kapolei defense was rock solid once again. The Hurricanes did not intercept the Knights’ two quarterbacks, but Treven Maae took advantage of a Dylan Naehu strip by scooping up the loose ball and scoring for an early 13-7 lead.
Rocky Savea contributed with a sack and a tackle for loss, Bam Amina had two tackles for loss and Maae added another, while Kukea Emmsley and Naehu came up with a sack apiece.
The fifth-ranked Hurricanes (3-0, 2-0 OIA Red) visit unranked Farrington (1-2, 1-1) next Saturday.
Castle (1-2, 1-1) was without staring quarterback Jaylen Uyemura-Lee, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in a 33-28 win over Radford.
Kawai Naki, who shared quarterback duties with Makana Smith, rushed for 75 yards on 11 tough carries.
“It would be great if we can get him back fast,” Naki said about Uyemura-Lee. “Then everyone can go back to their regular positions.”
Knights coach John Hao wants to see improvement on the interior of his offense and defense.
“We’ve got to move the ball (better) and keep the defense off the field,” he said.
In the final tally, Kapolei outgained Castle 407 to 146. The Knights finished with 112 rushing yards to the Hurricanes’ 89.
Castle got some unexpected good news. The Knights will be playing some home league games this season, according to OIA football coordinator Harold Tanaka, which is the opposite of what was originally thought.
Next Saturday’s game against Mililani (2-0, 2-0) has been shifted back to Castle’s home field. It appears that the work on the stadium lights (which was going to keep the Knights on the road for the season) is complete.