By Kevin Jakahi
Stephens Media Hawaii
c Kealakehe at Hilo, 7 p.m.
Kealakehe coach Sam Papalii and Hilo coach Dave Baldwin didn’t give away state secrets or whisper one brief bit about their game plans.
After Hilo scored 29 unanswered points to pound Kamehameha 36-10 last Friday, Baldwin spoke of his respect for the Waveriders, the three-time BIIF Division I defending champions.
“In my opinion, Kealakehe still holds the Division I title,” he told Stephens Media Hawaii. “They are the reigning Division I champs and until such time that it changes, I have the utmost respect for them.
“I think our kids are excited, but humbled. We’re trying to achieve and do something we have not done yet. (Hilo’s last BIIF title was in 2003, under former coach Albert Kawelu.) I pay no attention to what other teams have achieved. For us, it’s about what we control.”
It’s highly unlikely that will be put on Kealakehe’s bulletin board. Instead, the Waveriders will pin up Hilo running back Tristin Spikes’ stats. He shredded Kamehameha’s defense for 131 yards on 24 carries.
The Vikings went crazy on the ground against the Warriors. They outrushed Kamehameha 339 to 13 yards, a rather eye-opening stat. Donavan Kelley added to the damage with 83 rushing yards.
“Hilo’s a good team,” Papalii said. “They’re having a hell of a year. They’ve done a great job on offense and defense. No. 4 (Spikes) is a good runner and their quarterback, No. 11 (Kelley), is a good runner and he’s got skills.
“Our first priority is to stop the run. That’s the philosophy of any good defense, and you have to be sound against the pass. We’ve been susceptible to the pass, but we’re still trying to figure it out. We’ve got Keoni Yates back, and we can put him at safety or cornerback. We’re hoping to find the right formula and we’re getting closer.”
c Keaau at HPA, 2 p.m.
For Ka Makani, it’s an important game against the Cougars, who have yet to break the team total 100-yard rushing barrier, because the seeding picture comes into play.
Two of HPA’s last three games are against winless teams — Keaau this week and Honokaa in the last week of the regular season. Kamehameha is in the same boat — Honokaa this week and Keaau in the last week of the regular season.
Next week, HPA visits Kamehameha for the likely No. 2 seed in the four-team BIIF Division II playoffs. Unless all the wheels falls off, Kona should sew up the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage.
But before HPA can think too far ahead, a more immediate issue is at hand: ball security. The Cougars and Ka Makani both lost last week because they coughed up the ball more than once. It’s probably why winning the turnover battle is atop everyone’s checklist.