During coach Sam Papalii’s tenure at Kealakehe High School the Waveriders have gone after the big fish when it comes to preseason games.
This year is no different. The Waveriders (0-0) go on the road to take on Kamehameha-Oahu (2-0) today at 7 p.m.
“They are a good football team,” Papalii said. “In a game like this you just have to go play. This is an opportunity for us to travel as a team into a hostile environment and become united. Last year we went on a similar trip to play Kailua and it paid huge dividends for us.”
The game will be a tough early test for a youthful Kealakehe squad that graduated 22 seniors — 17 of whom went on to play at the collegiate level. The defending BIIF Division I champions have an unprecedented 18 sophomores on the roster, many of whom will see playing time.
“Our veterans will lead us and our younger guys need to step up,” Papalii said. “We want to win the game and make it a real physical encounter. We want to represent our program to the best of our abilities and grow as a team for when we open up the BIIF season next week.”
Papalii will lean on his big guys up front to make holes for a stable of young backs. The offensive line returns two all-BIIF selections in Feke Sopoaga-Kioa and Tui Eli.
Kamehameha — ranked No. 4 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s most recent prep football poll — dominated the first two preseason games and have thrived under first-year head coach Doug Cosbie. The Warriors won against Castle 15-0 in Week 1, then beat up on a highly-touted Farrington team 38-3 last week.
Running back Brandon Kahookele leads the way for the Warriors on offense. The senior has rushed for 338 yards and a touchdown through the first two preseason games. Open field ace Kainoa Simao accompanies Kahookele in the backfield. Simao had 72 combined rushing and receiving yards to go along with a 53-yard punt return against Farrington.
“They did not pass too much in their first two games, and for us our run defense is our strength,” Papalii said. “If they can run on us they are pretty good. My concern is that we will give up big plays. We want to make them earn it.”
The teams faced off last preseason on the Big Island with Kealakehe losing 34-0.