Moments after a homecoming win, Leilehua coach Mark Kurisu spotted quarterback Kona Andres sprawled on the turf in the Hugh Yoshida Stadium end zone.
“All right Kona?” Kurisu playfully shouted toward the senior before resuming a postgame interview. “He’s tired. He wants to go sleep on the field.”
After a hectic week on campus and a busy night in the pocket, Andres had earned a moment of downtime following the Mules’ 51-14 OIA Red win over Nanakuli.
A member of the Leilehua High School Service Association, the school’s leadership program, Andres was responsible for running the homecoming assembly Friday afternoon.
Andres had a few hours to catch his breath before leading Leilehua’s up-tempo attack and turned in an efficient performance to lead the Mules to their third straight win.
“We’ve actually been working on homecoming for a month for leadership,” Andres said. “It was fun, but when it comes down to the week its really stressful. You have deadlines, you have essays. It’s really mentally tough.”
Although Kurisu said he could sense the wear on Andres, the senior executed the Mules’ short passing game to complete 12 of his first 13 attempts and finish 20-for-28 for 213 yards and four touchdowns and two interceptions in Leilehua’s highest scoring night since a 54-17 win over Moanalua late in the 2013 season.
A leader on campus during the day, Andres had to reclaim that role on game nights early in the season. After a 24-0 loss to Kahuku to open the OIA season, Andres attempted just one pass in the Mules 47-0 loss to Mililani and sat out the first half against Kapolei on Sept. 2
“It was just mental breakdowns,” Andres said. “Wasn’t trusting the process like coach says and since I’m a three-year starter, they expected more of me. So I didn’t lead as I could have.
He returned in the second half against Kapolei to help lead the Mules to a pivotal 20-19 overtime win that turned the momentum of the season. He threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score in a 43-6 win over Castle last week and stayed hot on Friday to help Mules improve to 4-2 overall and 3-2 in league play.
“It feels good because I was out for a while,” Andres said. “From being out, I always have that chip on my shoulder. I have to remind myself I’m not going to have anything given to me, I have to earn it. So that keeps me motivated and wanting to get better.”
Two of Andres’ touchdown passes on Friday went to junior Jeremy Evans, and running back James McGary ran for 100 yards on 10 carries, including a 43-yard burst in the third quarter. The Mules finished with 455 yards in total offense — 240 passing and 215 rushing.
“(Nanakuli) had two weeks to plan for us so we had to make some adjustments,” Kurisu said. “After that, the O-line picked it up and the running backs ran well. … Our goal was 200 yards rushing.”
The Mules defense contributed to the scoring for a second straight week with Jerome Holliday‘s 34-yard interception return that gave Leilehua a 31-14 lead just before halftime.
After an 0-2 start, Leilehua’s winning streak elevated the Mules into a tie for second in the OIA Red with Kailua and Farrington. Leilehua will spend the rest of the regular season in Wahiawa with games against the Surfriders (Sept. 23) and the Govs (Sept. 29) left on the schedule.
Nanakuli’s playoff hopes, meanwhile, took a hit on Friday. The Golden Hawks (1-5, 1-4) travel to first-place Mililani on Sept. 23 and host Kapolei to close the regular season on Sept. 29.