Moanalua coach Jason Cauley knew he had a playmaker in receiver Karson Cruz.
He just had to convince Cruz — who also plays basketball and volleyball — of his potential on the football field.
“I keep telling him ‘you’re a football guy too,’ ” Cauley said. “You just don’t know it, but you’re a football guy. “I had a conversation with him the other day and I was like, ‘I know volleyball is your ticket to college, but if you apply yourself you can go somewhere with football. You don’t know how good you are.'”
Cruz rewarded his coach’s faith with a record-breaking performance on Friday night.
Cruz caught 10 passes for a school-record 310 yards and quarterback Kawika Keama-Jacobe threw for 574, also a record, in a 47-27 loss to Farrington.
For the second straight season, the Farrington-Moanalua matchup produced jaw-dropping statistical performances.
A little less than a year ago, Farrington running back Sanele Lavatai set the school’s single-game rushing record with 276 yards and the Governors weathered Moanalua quarterback Micah Kaneshiro‘s program-best 469 passing yards to edge Na Menehune 41-38.
Kaneshiro was bumped to second on Friday when Keama-Jacobe completed 28 of 51 attempts with three touchdowns in a game that ended at around 11:45 p.m. On another night, Na Menehune receiver Michael Feliciano‘s 10 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown might have been the headline numbers.
But as in last year’s meeting, the records came in a Moanalua loss as Farrington running backs Ranan Mamiya and Challen Faamatau combined for five touchdowns to power the Governors.
Cauley figured Na Menehune would have trouble running against Farrington’s physical defensive front. So he turned the passing game loose and Keama-Jacobe repeatedly found Cruz and Feliciano for big gains.
Cruz’s first three receptions went for 72, 52 and 40 yards. The first set up Moanalua’s first touchdown and he scored on his next two catches. On his second touchdown, the 6-foot-1 Cruz outjumped a Farrington defender in the end zone to cut Farrington’s lead to 22-19 in the second quarter.
“That’s the volleyball/basketball player at his best right there,” Cauley said.
Cauley said he doesn’t have an exact inch count on Cruz’s vertical leap but said it’s “in the high 30s.”
Cruz later had gains of 30 and 43 yards as Moanalua generated the video-game passing numbers despite the absence of senior receiver Jason Sharsh, who missed the game with a back injury.
While Na Menehune threw the ball with abandon, miscues approaching the end zone kept the point total from escalating along with the passing numbers.
Moanalua’s last three possessions of the first half ended with two fumbles and an interception. They had a first-and-goal on three drives in the second half but came away empty.
“During the game it’s frustrating, but after a loss like this you tell the kids, ‘hey I’m proud of what you did do but we could have done a lot more,'” Cauley said. “We’re a young team and that’s something we gotta do.”
Moanalua next hosts Kapolei, where Cauley served as offensive coordinator for two years prior to taking over the Na Menehune program.
“I’m still friends with all those guys,” Cauley said. “It’ll be an interesting game. It’ll be bittersweet for me.”