Kailua, Waiakea might battle in mud
First in a series of state football tournament previews
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Neighbor Islands weren't kind to the Kailua Surfriders in their state football tournament debut in 1999.
The Surfriders, then the O'ahu Interscholastic Association runner-up to Kahuku, played at Lihu'e's Vidinha Stadium on Kaua'i, losing to KIF champion Waimea, 20-18.
"(Quarterback Taleki) Mailau was a sophomore," recalled Kailua coach Darren Johnson. "All of the sophomores on that team don't want that feeling again."
So much for an overconfident Goliath entering David's arena, a muddied football field that is Hilo's Wong Stadium.
Weeks of rain and heavy use has left the field riddled with bowling-ball sized dimples. But like habitants that adapt to their environment, the Vikings see an advantage not limited to hometown cheers.
"We have an advantage on the Big Island," Waiakea coach Ed Rocha said. "We're used to playing on our home field with that ugly mud out there. We totally trashed it last week. That place was three inches thick in mud. There's grass under there some place. The bigger teams, we slowed their running game down because of the field conditions. It's going to be big advantage" for us.
Just another thing for the Surfriders, the OIA's second seed, to think about.
"We just have to try to be ready for it," Johnson said of the field conditions.
Waiakea is the third different Big Island representative in the state tournament. Konawaena and Hilo made it in 1999 and 2000, respectively. It is the second consecutive year the quarterfinal is at Wong Stadium. Last year, Kaimuki beat the Vikings, 20-0.
Tomorrow: Castle vs. Waimea
- When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
- Where: Wong Stadium, Hilo
- Records: Kailua 9-2 overall, OIA second seed; Waiakea is 8-2, BIIF co-champions advancing to state tournament by tie-breaker.
- Advertiser ranking: Kailua is No. 4, Waiakea is No. 10
- Last week: Kailua defeated Castle, 13-7, for OIA co-championship; Waiakea defeated Konawaena, 14-0, to gain BIIF's state berth.
- Series record: Kailua leads series, 2-0.
- Last meeting: Kailua defeated Waiakea, 26-0, in a non-league game last year. It was the back-end of a home-and-home series. Kailua also won by a score of 29-20 in 1999.
- Key factors: Waiakea's defense must use quickness and speed to make up for its lack of size against Kailua's huge offensive line (6-3, 287 average per player, including tight ends), which also is mobile as center Marques Kaonohi (6-2, 250) pulls on certain plays. Middle linebacker Kawika Reed (6-2, 235) and free safety Kamalu Keawe (6-2, 185) are the key components of the Warriors' 4-3 scheme that features blitzes. "Being small, we want to be aggressive and create turnovers," Rocha said. Keawe also doubles as a wide receiver on offense. Kailua's primary threat is on the ground with speedy and shifty running backs Brenton Harbottle (5-6, 173), who rushed for 794 yards during the regular season and 284 more against Mililani in a first-round playoff game, and Nathan Leaver (5-6, 152), who had 335 yards during the regular season. In short-yardage situations, the Surfriders line up with double tight ends and use one of their linemen, usually 6-1, 286-pounder Daniel Bukurau, as a blocking back. But quarterback Taleki Mailau (5-10, 190) can deliver through the air (1,176 yards passing), with wideout David Kaihenui (5-11, 155) being the frequent target (25 for 429 yards). The Surfriders discovered against Castle that a quick, swarming defense can tame the running game, as Harbottle was held to 87 yards on 21 carries....the Warriors operate out of the spread, running the triple option behind quarterback Jomo Young (6--0, 175). He has had to pick up the slack for the loss of running back Levi Naehu (5-10, 185), who is out with a knee injury sustained about six weeks ago. Last week, the Surfriders did a fine job of containing Castle quarterback Joel Botelho, a running and passing threat. Kailua sacked Botelho four times, twice by blitzing linebacker Felipo Mokofisi (6-2, 220). Linebackers Eddie Campbell (6-1, 180)and Koa Sniffen (6-1, 230) had one sack each. Kailua's secondary also is a threat, as defensive backs Chaz Tabias (5-6, 150) had two interceptions and Kepa Kailio (5-11, 180) had one, which was returned for a touchdown ... both teams use some of their linemen on both sides of the ball, but rotate them enough so they don't get winded ...One of Kailua's downfalls is penalties. The Surfriders were called 14 times for 99 yards against Mililani and 11 times for 72 yards against Castle in their last two playoff games.