Sometimes, an apple does fall far from the tree.
And then it just keeps rolling.
Kaiser coach Cameron Higgins grew up in Delbert Tengan’s system with Saint Louis in 2004 and 2005, a balanced attack that kept opponents guessing. But now that the quarterback has grown into a coach, there isn’t much of a mystery where the ball is going to go.
Higgins has ridden running back Jensen McDaniel through his first two games at the helm, giving the shifty junior the ball 46 times in two games. That’s 12 times more than anyone else on Oahu. Only Anuenue’s Kona Kelekolio approaches him, taking 20 handoffs in Na Koa’s lone game. It’s an easy call when his workhorse chews up so much yardage.
McDaniel leads Oahu with 321 yards in the early going, chewing up 6.98 yards per carry that would be even higher if the goal line hadn’t stopped him five times. Only Farrington’s Ranan Mamiya and Mililani’s Vavae Malepaei have scored as many rushing touchdowns.
Part of the reason McDaniel is so effective is because Higgins does mix things up so often. The Cougars ask their quarterback to turn around and hand it off 32 times a game, fewer than eight other teams. Waianae is the most run-heavy team in the early going, plowing forward on 44 plays a game including 52 in a win over McDaniel and the Cougars.
The difference is that the Seariders get only 3.15 yards per rushing play while Kaiser picks up 7.49. Kaiser quarterback Kalawaia Judd has run the ball 20 times in two games this year, good for a hefty 6.45 yards per carry while throwing it 45 times.
The Crusaders only had a running back eclipse 100 yards in a game twice (Cody Wells, both times) in the 12 games Higgins finished for the Saint Louis in 2004 and 2005, but as a coach he is 2-for-2 in that regard. McDaniel will be going for the three-peat next week against Waipahu, which gives up an OIA Red-worst 150.5 yards a game.
Kaiser, the defending Divison II champions, has not had a running back earn more than 100 yards in each game for three straight games since Josh Gonda did it in four games in 2010.
Higgins had a bell cow in his senior year in Wells, but Tengan gave a running back more than 18 carries in a game only once. Kaiser has already done it twice with McDaniel.
Perhaps Higgins learned the value of running the ball in his last prep game, when he threw for only 12 yards (on only seven attempts) but shocked Kamehameha with 78 on the ground in a 14-0 win. He was injured in a loss to Punahou a week later.
Higgins’ passing attempts in league games during his senior season: 29, 24, 12, 10, 7, 15, 26, 12, 12 = 147.
Higgins’ rushing attempts in league games during his senior season: 10, 7, 6, 2, 5, 5, 5, 9, 8 = 57.
That means he ran 39 percent of the time that season. Judd has thrown the ball 45 times this year and run it 20 times for a quite similar 44 percent mark.