Target practice: Campbell’s Kaipo keeps working

Campbell will play O'Connor High in Phoenix on Aug. 31. In photo, quarterback Krenston Kaipo unloaded a pass for the Sabers in a game against Farrington. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

In the space of two nights, it seemed left-handers were all about the place.

Friday afternoon, Joel Lane, ‘Iolani’s longtime quarterbacks coach and guru, was in the midst as the Raiders fell to St. Francis. The Raiders did all they could offensively, put up a respectable 21 points one of the better defensive units in the state — regardless of classification.

Friday night, Mililani QB Dillon Gabriel weaved his magic wand and puppeteered the offense. Farmington’s aggressive defense would go all in, 11 defenders within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, no safety back. Zero coverage. The lefty, Gabriel, would heave his immaculate spirals skyward, and Ryan Chang raced under three of them for touchdowns that Farrington hadn’t really experienced in this way, not this season. Lesson learned.

Then there was first-year starting QB Krenston Kaipo of Campbell. From afar, his work is sometimes music, a current reminder of past lefties like Keenan Sadanaga, the former Leilehua passing machine. Kaipo is in the early chapters of his story, nowhere close to where Sadanaga was as an outgoing senior — but Campbell’s nifty lefty is heading that way, no question about it.

He wasn’t a machine, really, in a 51-6 win over Moanalua on Saturday night at Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium. He was human. A darn unstoppable human: 21-for-37, 356 yards, five touchdowns, no picks, no fumbles, didn’t even sneeze without saying “excuse me” to the company he kept. Kaipo may not have Big Ben size or Michael Vick wheels, but what he has is a growing expanse of knowledge in his big brain, and this was textbook.

“We were kind of looking at what they were giving us. Get guys out of the box, when guys would load up the box so we would throw the ball and get guys out of the box so we could run it down the stretch. It was on the fly.”

Let’s look at his target chart early in the season, and from Friday, which more or less is midseason. Is it possible that within a span of two or three games, young Krenston Kaipo’s vision has become supremely better?

Krenston Kaipo
vs. Farrington, Aug. 11 — 18-28-2-386, TD; team rushing totals: 21-46, 3 TDs
vs. Aiea, Aug. 19 — 9-16-1-191, 2 TD; team rushing totals: 26-163, 4 TDs
vs. Moanalua, Sept. 9 — 24-41-0-356, 5 TD; team rushing totals: 23-140, 3 TDs

Poki‘i Adkins-Kupukaa
vs. Farrington, Aug. 11 — 8 receptions, 204 yards, TD, 8 targets.
vs. Aiea, Aug. 19 — 6-157, 2 TDs, 8 targets.
vs. Moanalua, Sept. 9 — 6-93, 2 TDs, 10 targets.

Vernon Etrata-Daite
vs. Farrington, Aug. 11 — 2-46, 5 targets.
vs. Aiea, Aug. 19 — 2-25, 3 targets.
vs. Moanalua, Sept. 9 — 4-92, TD, 4 targets.

Gabriel Colon-Valentin
vs. Farrington, Aug. 11 — 3-56, 3 targets
vs. Aiea, Aug. 19 — 0-0, 2 targets 
vs. Moanalua, Sept. 9 — 3-68, TD, 5 targets.

Jalen Henderson
vs. Farrington, Aug. 11 — 3-38, 4 targets.
vs. Aiea, Aug. 19 — 0-0, 1 target.
vs. Moanalua, Sept. 9 — N/A.

Tyrese Tafai
vs. Farrington, Aug. 11 — 2-42, 2 targets
vs. Aiea, Aug. 19 — 0-0, 0 target.
vs. Moanalua, Sept. 9 — 2-15, 4 targets.

Jashton Kimbrough-Biala
vs. Farrington, Aug. 11 — 0-0, 0 target
vs. Aiea, Aug. 19 — 0-0, 1 target
vs. Moanalua, Sept. 9 — 0-0, 0 target.

Tasi Faumui
vs. Farrington, Aug. 11 — 0-0, 0 target
vs. Aiea, Aug. 19 — 0-0, 1 target
vs. Moanalua, Sept. 9 — 0-0, 0 target.

Stone Africa
vs. Farrington, Aug. 11 — 0-0, 1 target
vs. Aiea, Aug. 19 — 0-0, 0 target
vs. Moanalua, Sept. 9 — 0-0, 0 target.

Dylan Ursua
vs. Farrington, Aug. 11 — 0-0, 1 target.
vs. Aiea, Aug. 19 — 0-0, 0 target.
vs. Moanalua, Sept. 9 — 1-8, 1 target.

Christian Quiambao
vs. Farrington, Aug. 11 — N/A.
vs. Aiea, Aug. 19 — N/A.
vs. Moanalua, Sept. 9 — 8-78, 9 targets.

What do the numbers tell us? It’s a small sampling, and the only substantial observation here is that with more experience and the presence of seasoned receivers, Kaipo is more apt to throw the ball to what are likely his best route runners. Now that he’s back, no holding back.

“Chris made a big impact. He’s starting to get healthy. He was actually starting before he got hurt (ankle) in the summer. Now that he’s back, he’s starting to show back to form,” Johnson said. “Gabriel is starting to show things he does in practice, he’s showing on the game field now. Our older wide receivers played better tonight. Made catches and made plays. It was spread out nicely and our quarterback did a nice job with that.”

Johnson has been patient, demanding and seemingly at peace with the Sabers’ growth and learning curve. But he holds Kaipo to a higher standard.

“He’s maturing. He’s getting better every week. He works hard in practice. We get on him hard. He’s probably the player on the team we get down on the most because if we can get him to play good, we can get the offense on all cylinders. Our O-line did a nice job. He’ll the first guy to credit the the O-line, giving him a chance, protecting him, letting him throw the ball and see his windows and put the ball there,” Johnson said.

Kaipo, for his massive numbers and big-play effectiveness, will become even more productive once his mechanics become consistent. He overthrew a handful or so of open receivers on the deep sidelines and in the end zone. For now, that’s enough to work on every day.

“The rest of the way is a tough road. We’ve got Radford and Kahuku,” Johnson said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”


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