Earlier this season, Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said his team had finally joined the modern era after years of relying on defense and a bruising running game.
The Hurricanes still have that defense, not giving up more than seven points in a game since Sept. 5, but it is the passing attack that has evolved the most.
It starts with quarterback Taulia Tagovialoa, of course, but the young freshman certainly has talent around him. Tagovailoa is the only Kapolei quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards, and he has done it three times. He was over than mark by halftime on Friday against Castle and finished with an insane 534 yards in a 41-0 win. His previous record was 448.
He is carrying his receivers along with him, or maybe it is the other way around.
Ty-Noah Williams was the star of the show on Friday, breaking teammate L.J. Esperas‘ school record of 221 yards against Mililani with his first reception after halftime. He went on to compile 313 yards, just short of the 319 yards accumulated by David Kaihenui for Kailua in 2002 for the Oahu record.
Noah-Williams, who had a 123-yard game against Kaiser earlier this year, already had the fifth-best total in the school’s annals but obliterated it this time. Of the six best receiving games in school history, four of them have come this year and one happened last year.
And they are all different players: Williams, Esperas and Jaymin Sarono. Jenesus Tago-Sue and Lorenzen Panapa were threats as well against Castle, halfway to 100 yards by halftime. Seven different Hurricanes caught touchdown passes in the pre- and regular seasons and 13 different receivers caught at least one pass.
Hernandez said his staff counted “13 or 14” dropped passes against Castle, which is a little bit of an exaggeration since Tagovailoa was 19-for-31, but his point was made.
Still, that gives Tagovailoa plenty of options to work with as the Hurricanes make the trek North to Kahuku next week.
Hernandez knows a thing or two about beating Kahuku up there. He pulled off what might be the biggest upset in the state championship era when he beat the Red Raiders in their own house in the 2007 playoffs. He also beat Kahuku at Kahuku with Campbell in 1996.
Quarterback Mason Koa threw only six passes in that game, completing four of them. What did Hernandez have to say after the upset in 2002?
“I think this is one of those once-in-a-generation type of things,” Hernandez said.
Just in time for a new generation.