Konawaena plans to keep on rolling after Honokaa win


KEALAKEKUA — Judging by the reactions of Konawaena’s Brandon Howes and Chase Takaki, the thought of a letdown never entered their minds.

And judging by their play, they don’t plan on letting up anytime soon.

Konawaena’s fast-paced, spread offense won’t allow it. The Wildcats’ football team only knows one way.

“Go, go, go. We don’t let up for anybody,” Takaki said Friday night after a 45-0 victory against Honokaa.

“We run our pace, and we don’t stop. Other teams are trying to get set, get their calls together. We’re on the line. Faster than anybody else.”

And that makes the offense hard to slow.

Konawaena (3-1, 2-0 Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II) has produced 157 points in four games under the direction of first-year quarterback Howes, a senior who has tossed 10 touchdown passes in the Wildcats’ three-game winning streak.

“It’s fun. You get to spread the ball around and there’s a lot of throwing,” said Howes, who connected with Takaki for three of his five touchdown passes against the Dragons.

“Our receivers just got open and made plays for me.”

The two-time defending BIIF Division II champions thrived last season with Lii Karratti spreading the ball around.

The coaching staff learned that Karratti was planning to transfer after last season, but Howes transferred in from Kamehameha-Hawaii last spring, and the offense hasn’t missed a beat.

“It helps to have a bright quarterback,” coach Cliff Walters said. “He has a good arm, but he makes great decisions.”

Howes finished 17 of 29 against Honokaa for 312 yards, and he could have had an even bigger night if a long touchdown pass to Dishon Cho wasn’t negated by penalty.

But Walters was perhaps most pleased that Howes hooked up with nine different receivers, including scoring strikes to Kevin Medeiros and Luca Vartic.

“Guys are going up and getting the ball,” Walters said. “It’s an attitude. An offensive attitude that we’re a passing team and we’re going to be a passing team.

“What happens is that we’ve developed a positive attitude in receivers that they can catch the ball.”

Meanwhile, a Konawaena defense spearheaded by Koa Basque, Makoa Chapa and Evyn Yamaguchi forced four turnovers and held up to Honokaa’s physical challenge.

The Dragons’ offense netted 122 yards, and only 69 on the ground.

“They’re a tough team,” Walters said. “We enjoyed playing them. When we play a tough team and match them, that’s a step forward for us. I was pretty pleased with our purpose.”

Bubba Ellis-Noa accounted for over 100 yards on the ground, and Konawaena even has a threat at kicker, with John Replogle nailing a 43-yard field goal and launching six of his eight kickoffs for touchbacks.

The Wildcats welcome Division I Keaau to Julian R. Yates Field on Friday, and then close out the Division II portion of their schedule a week later at Hawaii Prep.

Konawaena’s first goal is the top seed and a home game in the BIIF Division II semifinals, which is one of the reasons why Takaki was never concerned about a letdown against the rebuilding Dragons (0-3, 0-2 BIIF Division II).

“We play hard to the whistle every play,” he said. “That’s Kona football, and it shouldn’t change.”