Last season, Ina Teofilo looked like a wide receiver, fitting less than 200 pounds on his slender 6-foot frame, but he was a running back for Kamehameha, and played with the hard-nosed mentality of a bulldozer.
He was the typical north-south runner, relying on toughness to power through the tackle gaps rather than speed to race around the perimeter. As a first-year starter, his style worked and the Warriors were in position to win the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Div ision II championship.
In a memorable thriller, Konawaena edged Kamehameha 32-28, but Teofilo finished his junior season on a high note with 122 yards on 23 carries.
Then he got additional motivation to work hard for his senior season. Teofilo was snubbed in the All-BIIF Division II voting. There were four available running back spots, but he didn’t make the first or second teams. (There was no honorable mention.)
Maybe no one knew who he was. As a sophomore in 2011 at Waiakea, Teofilo didn’t play in any BIIF sport. Instead, he played Hawaii Youth Rugby.
However, he did announce his arrival last year in Kamehameha’s 35-12 preseason win over Keaau. Teofilo turned into a bowling ball, and rushed for 189 yards, including a pair of touchdowns.
He no longer looks like a wiry wide receiver. Teofilo is now 6-1 and 205 pounds of solid muscle, resembling a Will, the weakside linebacker responsible for providing toughness on tackles, and speed while chasing down plays on the backside.
However, he doesn’t play defense. He’s used on special teams and saved for carrying Kamehameha’s offense, especially when the aerial attack isn’t working and the game plan is: give Teofilo the ball and go block somebody, even when there are eight defenders in the box.
That was pretty much the offensive philosophy in a 37-3 loss to old nemesis Kona last Friday at Paie‘a Stadium. Teofilo was a workhorse in the first half, rushing for 157 yards on 19 attempts. He finished with 181 yards on 32 carries.
His production slowed in second half — 29 yards on 13 carries — because he couldn’t break a long scamper to soften run blitzes, and the Wildcats played with a high-energy tempo and attacked running lanes with far more aggressiveness.
But for the first 24 minutes, Teofilo put on a show, busting loose for long gains of 38, 29, and 27 yards, showing the speed to turn the corner on the outside, and beat the second-level tacklers before they could close the angle on him.
He’s got a light but mobile offensive line, led by senior Paka Davis (6-1, 210), also Kamehameha’s first baseman on the baseball team, and sophomore Joyden Madriaga (5-9, 240). The O-line raced to the outside on stretch plays, and often won the battle at the point of attack.
Behind lineman Makoa Chapa’s 18 tackles, often created when he conveniently leveraged someone out of the way, and a lockdown secondary, Kona’s defense won the war.
“The line did a good job. I saw the outside open,” Teofilo said about the first half. “I saw holes and everybody was doing their job.”
During the summer, Teofilo attended the Nike camp at Oregon, where he received valuable advice from the staff of the No. 2-ranked Ducks.
“Don’t get hit, give the hit,” recalled Teofilo, who also spent his summer working out at Paie‘a Stadium, focusing on his agility, with on-the-ground foot ladder drills, and running up stairs every day. “Last year, I was a north-south runner. This year, I want to be east-west, too, to be a double threat.”
He wants to land a college scholarship, and he’s doing his part, not only on the field. In the class room, Teofilo is holding a 3.2 grade-point average.
Much like the All-BIIF voting, he’s hoping someone will take notice.
Kamehameha (1-2 overall, 0-1 BIIF Division II) at Waiakea (2-1, 1-0 BIIF Division I), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Waiakea senior running back Devin Preston demonstrated why he landed on the All-BIIF Division I first team last season in the Warriors’ 15-0 win over Honokaa on Saturday on the road.
Most coaches would prefer an opposing running back be productive in the first half rather than the second. That’s simply because if there’s a lead in place, the ticking clock with running plays, also serves as an enemy.
Preston rushed for 116 of his 143 yards, including touchdown runs of 60 and 40 runs, in the second half, when the Dragons likely put a heavy emphasis on stopping him. They couldn’t and he made game-changing plays.
Waiakea led only 2-0 at halftime, when it was time for Preston to step up and shine.
It’ll be an interesting running back matchup: Teofilo vs. Preston. The latter Warrior is also a linebacker, so he could be facing and tackling Teofilo, who doesn’t play defense.
If Kamehameha puts the ball in the air, beware of Waiakea junior Zac Correa. Counting the preseason, he snagged his third interception of the season against Honokaa.
Honokaa (0-2, 0-1 BIIF Division II) at Kona (2-1, 1-0 BIIF Division II), 7:30 p.m. Friday
Bubba Ellis-Noa is turning into a big-play, two-way threat for the Wildcats. Against Kamehameha, the running back scored on an 88-yard swing pass from quarterback Brandon Howes, and a 59-yard run.
He finished with two catches for 91 yards, and ran for 81 yards on six carries. Ellis-Noa is a junior, so he’ll be back to torment teams for another year.
On par as a weapon is Howes, who rushed for 101 yards, including a 53-yard TD run, on just nine attempts. The senior QB went 9 of 24 for 235 yards with two touchdown strikes.
Sophomore wideout Lucca Vartic is developing into a deep threat. He caught two balls, one for 24 yards and the other for 12 yards. Kona’s top receiving threat is senior Chase Takaki, who had one reception for 26 yards.
The Dragons displayed a good ground presence against Waiakea, gathering 236 yards. Sione Epenesa rushed for 148 yards on 21 carries, and Wayne Vaoga contributed 70 yards.
Honokaa ran out of the wishbone, after using the double wing-T a year ago, two ground-and-pound attacks designed to chew up the clock and, hopefully, prevent big plays from the other team, making for a matchup of clock management vs. Kona’s big-play quick strikes.
What happens when you combine a Konawaena soccer player, John Replogle, and the school’s baseball coach, Dave Distel?
Well, you get a front-runner for the BIIF Division II kicker of the year. In Kona’s win over Kamehameha on Friday, Replogle drilled a 46-yard field goal in the first quarter. It had enough steam to go another two or three yards.
Distel is the Wildcats’ special teams coach.
Replogle was on last season’s Kona soccer team that captured the BIIF Division II championship, the school’s first league title since 1981. (Statewide classification started in 2008.)
He landed on the All-BIIF Division II first team at forward as a junior last season. He scored 19 goals.
Replogle was also accurate and long with his kickoffs, keeping the ball in bounds, and pounding a pair of touchbacks.
Distel’s punter is wide receiver Kevin Medeiros, who had three punts, with a long of 40 yards. He had one catch for 33 yards.
The Konawaena baseball coach had a few moments of pause when his ace pitcher Jordan Miyahira-Young, a senior wide receiver and cornerback, made a few tackles.
Distel’s slugging catcher Evyn Yamaguchi, a senior linebacker, recorded 11 tackles. He, too, walked off the field injury-free, giving much relief to his baseball coach.
The front-runner for the Division II punter of the year is Kamehameha’s Kamuela Kawamoto for several reasons.
For one thing, he got in a lot of work against Kona, punting eight times. For another, Kawamoto, also a running back, had a long of 53 yards.