The fine line: a Konawaena coach breaks down Rush’s comment

Well, now what?

Honokaa 78, Ka‘u 0. That happened over the weekend. That follows Konawaena’s 91-8 win the week before. The critics who accused Konawaena of running up the score haven’t said much — yet — about Honokaa’s 78-point margin of victory.

If you examine the Konawaena-Ka‘u game video (highlights) (courtesy of Sportz Viz) and the analysis of Konawaena’s game management by Wildcats assistant coach Brad Uemoto (see below), it seems very clear that Ka‘u is simply a tough, gritty, young and sometimes overwhelmed team this season. Bear in mind that the Ka‘u community had no Pop Warner program last year; the program was revived this fall.

No feeder program, no JV team usually means tough, tough times for any high school football team. That’s what happened at Kohala, and look what happened. The Cowboys closed shop midway through the year. Ka‘u kept trodding on diligently despite the disadvantages. They deserve a lot of credit for that.

But take a look at the game video and Uemoto’s breakdown below. The comments by Greg Rush, the former Ka‘u coach who accused Konawaena of running up the score, are in ‘The fine line’ post from last week on Hawaii Prep World.

The initial post was ‘When a 91-8 score is misleading’, which was published online last week Monday.

From Brad Uemoto:

First of all, I appreciate the article “Fine Line” in that it considers the “debacle” on a level playing field if you will.  I never really had much comment early on as I honestly can’t remember details of a game well enough to repeat without watching it over again.  It was obviously a popular topic in the community and the internet and I kept from saying much until I watched it on film.  As Coach Walters said in his radio interview, the game got away from us and we never had any intention to run anything up.  In  all honesty, if that was the goal, I think we could all agree that the score could have been way worse if that was the intent.  I personally watched the game 3 times over.  I jotted down some notes as I watched and compared it with what was “remembered” by most people.  Obviously, stats are good indicators but for me, watching the game is a bigger tool.  This is what I gathered:


-Second defensive series, second string DB’s rotating in

-JV players scattered on special teams by second kick off

-Midway through first quarter, third string defenders are rotating in

-11:34 left in second quarter Kamoku scores on first play of series (42-0)…no 4th and 8anywhere

-Towards end of second quarter, JV receivers rotating

-Last score of first half came on 3rd and 15, run up the middle


-First second half TD, third play of half, long pass8:52 remaining

-Special teams from this point are 80% guys that never touch the field

-First string defense begins half for 2 plays then 95% rotate out for remainder of game

-Fourth offensive play of second half, TD on hitch pass 4:36 left in third

-At this point, offensive starters never go back in…any of them

-7 min left in game, entire JV on offense

-Ka’u passes 10 times to 0 runs in second half…there were 2 runs on scrambles, but originally a pass call

After watching the film, Karratti does throw most of his TD passes deep and that may be bothersome to people.  What people don’t realize is, we are a predominantly pass team.  Many of our routes are predicated on what the defense gives us…including Karratti’s reads.  The long passes were a result of our system.  A pass call in the third up 70 may upset people, but in the heat of a game while trying to iron issues on our offense…we are not thinking about how this call will make Greg Rush feel.  Nor do we envision 7 missed tackles and the result a touchdown.

Every other team in the BIIF is a run first team.  If they get up 50-0 and run the ball to open the half, one can criticize them for going to their bread and butter.  I seen HPA earlier in the year against Kohala put a “Rudy” type defensive lineman at RB while the sideline cheered as he gained a yard…to me that is more insulting.

I was mostly bothered by Greg Rush’s comments about our game.  He started out in half support of what happen (initial post blamed the Ka’u coaching staff) until he realized the controversy, and then went to being the witness of a “heartless and unsportsmanlike debacle.”  Can we save some drama here?  I could not find any truth to the following statements he made about the game:

1. “They went for it on 4th and 8 while up by 50” (then later stated up 35) – never found a fourth down anywhere on film

2. “They took out the first unit with 7 mins remaining in the fourth” – Karratti last stood on the field with 4:36 left in 3rd (running clock makes it seem worse).  He also needs to clarify if Karratti alone means “starting unit”.  Karratti ran 4 plays in the second half (two run plays).

3. “They went for 2 after missing an earlier 1 point try” – PAT mishandled snap is always a “fire call” since Kona Marlins days…it has become a life long reaction for these kids.  Low snap in the dirt resulted in a scramble pass.  We did not line up for 2.

Now even remarks about how we handled substitutions bothers me because none of these critics are at our practice all week, nor are they privy to the status of each player.  For example, many JV players barely practiced in the leading week.  Some practiced the full week with varsity (these kids got in earlier in the game), others made 2 days (less playing time, entered later in the game) and there was a few that made 1 day (not allowed to dress).  An example like this is completely ignored/overlooked when critics want to make comments.

So why does someone go as far to exaggerate/lie about what they saw?  I think I proved that some of the comments were completely made up and majority of his comments exaggerated to build this to become bigger that it already was.  To me, an exaggeration/lie about what someone saw totally discredits everything else that this person witnessed.

I know I’m kinda beating a dead horse on this beaten topic but I’m just happy that your article put week long controversy to bed a little.  I as a coach want Konawaena to be noticed across the state as a great team.  We really do have great kids, and we as coaches do everything we can for them.  We want the 2012 Wildcats to be known for their success on the field, not state or national scoring records.


Maybe this ends the back-and-forth on the Konawaena-Ka‘u game. Maybe it doesn’t. Lord knows a lot of pride is at stake, especially for Ka‘u fans. Through all the ups and downs over the decades — spurred by the closing of sugar plantations and the slowdown in economic growth — Ka‘u has managed to field a football team. That can’t be said of some other communities hit by similar obstacles.

I still believe the best solution for the BIIF’s smaller programs is 8-man football. It’s booming in the MIL. St. Anthony, Seabury Hall, Molokai and Hana are thriving. They’re fielding rosters near 40 players at Seabury Hall and Molokai. Seabury Hall just won the first official MIL 8-man football title over the weekend. Four schools that didn’t have any football before 8-man arrived.

Former Baldwin coach Chad Kauhaahaa, now a line coach at Utah, says his best offensive lineman came from an 8-man high school program.

If and when the ILH’s small schools follow suit with 8-man, then it’ll take just one more league in the sport to qualify it for an HHSAA state-championship designation. That’s off in the distant future, but not too far out. Kohala athletic director Laurie Koustik has already expressed an interest in seeing 8-man football into the BIIF. If other schools like Ka‘u and Pahoa get involved, it could happen. Especially if transportation is available. Koustik said Kohala already has a school van that can be utilized — and save a ton of funds that used to go toward bus rentals at $360 per road trip.

I’d also be supportive of a Division III for football. Former UH coach and Kamehameha-Hawaii AD Bob Wagner talked about D-III for years. If other small schools gravitate to the concept, why not? If competition is no more important than participation for the small — some are truly tiny — schools, then it deserves some discussion. After all, D-II on other islands still means some superior programs like Lahainaluna (small enrollment, strong tradition) and ‘Iolani (medium enrollment, five D-II state titles in a row) and enormous schools from the OIA are involved.

That’s really no place for tiny rural programs — with no feeder programs — to be. Not in football. Can someone get this ball rolling?


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