Kalaheo’s Justus Neufeldt moved from quarterback to running back for Friday’s game against Waialua because his coach wanted to better utilize his athletic ability.
The switch paid off big-time.
Neufeldt finished with 15 carries for 206 yards and Micah Jahnke rushed for two scores in the second quarter as Kalaheo defeated Waialua 25-14 at Kailua to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Neufeldt, a senior, started every game at quarterback leading up to Friday’s game.
“I decided to put Justus more in a role where I can get the ball in his hands,” said Kalaheo coach Darrell Poole. “He’s a load to handle.”
Neufeldt, who played running back last season, gained 176 of his yards in the second half against Waialua. It’s the 10th-highest total in single-game history at Kalaheo.
“I just had to make adjustments because I wasn’t hitting the hole in the first half, but I found the blocks and wound up getting a lot of yards,” he said.
Kalaheo (2-4, 2-3 OIA D-II) used big plays to start the second, third and fourth quarters to thwart Waialua.
Jahnke scored on a 9-yard run on the first play of the second quarter, Jaden Amasiu returned the second-half kickoff 70 yards for a score and Neufeldt scored on a 65-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter for the Mustangs, who rushed for 312 yards as a team.
“When you get runs like that and you seize the momentum, it just motivates the team as a whole,” Poole said. “That’s what we’ve been missing in the early part of the season.”
In the third quarter, Waialua advanced the ball to the Kalaheo 6, but turned it over on downs. A fumble recovery and return by Matthan Hatchie gave the Bulldogs the ball at the Mustangs’ 15, but Kalaheo’s Jordan Elliott intercepted the ball on the next play.
“It would have been a different ball game,” said Waialua coach Lincoln Barit, when asked about his team not being able to get points on the drives.
Neufeldt, who also plays linebacker, had a 10-yard sack on Waialua’s final possession.
“I always tell the coach I want to go in. I want to make an impact on offense and defense,” he said.
As far as Neufeldt’s role for the remainder of the season, Poole said he’ll be the running back and Noa Lapera, who attempted only seven passes Friday, will be the quarterback.
“When I told him we were going to make the switch and give him the ball most of the time tonight, he was really happy about it,” Poole said. “We’re going to finish the season with him at running back.”
Waialua’s Justyce Lacar, who made his first start of the season, completed 20 of 42 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Hunter Apau and Hunter Nery caught the scoring passes.
Waialua (0-7, 0-6) played one of its better games of the season. Over their first five league games, the Bulldogs had been outscored 245-7.
“We put up 14 points, we were kind of scoreless for the past couple games,” Barit said.