HILO — Quarterback Lii Karratti tossed three touchdown passes, and running back John Kamoku bolted for three more scores to spark defending Division II island champion Konawaena to an impressive 48-12 win over Hilo on Friday night.
About 1,000 fans watched the Big Island Interscholastic Federation preseason football game at Wong Stadium.
Karratti, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior, completed 7 of 14 passes for 107 yards and the three TDs as he orchestrated a balanced attack against the Division I Vikings (1-1). He continually kept Hilo off-balance with his pinpoint passing accuracy or by handing the ball off to Kamoku, a 5-10, 175-pound senior transfer from Kealakehe who scored on runs of 5, 5 and 51 yards.
Konawaena finished the night with 107 yards passing and rushing for 214 total yards. The Vikings finished with 181 on the ground and 74 in the air for 255 total yards. But Hilo also had four turnovers — three fumbles and an interception that Domonic Morris picked off in the third quarter.
Senior linebacker Winchester Aquino recovered two of the Vikings’ fumbles, while teammate Austin Denis bearhugged the other loose football. The Wildcats did not turn the ball over, and the strong-legged John Replogle kept the Vikings deep in their own territory with his booming kickoffs.
Kamoku led Konawaena’s ground attack with 71 yards on nine carries and the three TDs.
Quarterback Donovan Kelley provided Hilo with most of its offense. He rushed for 172 yards in 13 attempts and scored both Viking TDs. He also completed 6 of 12 passes for 74 yards and tossed an interception.
The visitors held promising Hilo junior running back Aven Kualii to minus-4 yards in eight attempts — after he ran for 117 yards in his team’s 21-18 win over Hawaii Prep last week. Kualii did catch two passes, for a combined 25 yards, to help Kelley outside the pressurized pocket.
The teams battled on even terms through most of the opening quarter before Karratti chopped up the Viking defense on a three-play, 47-yard drive that culminated with a 21-yard scoring pass from the talented Konawaena QB to sure-handed wide receiver Kenan Gaspar. Replogle then kicked the extra point to give the fired-up visitors a 7-0 lead.
The Wildcats (2-1) struck again early in the second quarter, going 45 yards in five plays with Kamoku sprinting 5 yards for the TD at the 11:30 mark. Replogle’s kick stretched the lead to 14-0.
But Hilo rallied behind Kelley, who brushed off a tackle on what appeared to be a short run, then broke loose on a 92-yard TD run to slice the Konawaena cushion to 14-6 with 10:52 left in the half. The extra-point kick was blocked by Denis.
The Cliff Walters-coached Wildcats then stunned the Vikings with a 43-yard scoring pass from Karratti to junior wide receiver Chase Takaki with 3:15 left in the half. Takaki rifled a two-point conversion pass to Morris to extend the lead to 22-6, all but ending the Vikings’ hopes.
Konawaena led 28-6 at the half and stretched the lead up to 48-6 in the fourth quarter, before Kelley led a final scoring drive for the Vikings.
Hilo’s overwhelming size advantage on the line did not play a factor as the quick Wildcat defenders shut down most of the open holes and gang tackled the Viking ball-carriers or harassed Kelley in a crowded backfield throughout the evening.
In the junior varsity game, Hilo and Konawaena played to a 14-14 tie.
The varsity and JV games were played without a working scoreboard as the county equipment sat dark all evening. Royden Okunami, the public address announcer for Hilo, kept the fans informed of the official score and time throughout the varsity contest.
Konawaena 7 21 13 7 — 48
Hilo 0 6 0 6 — 12
Kona — Kenan Gaspar 32 pass from Lii Karratti (John Replogle kick, 2:52)
Kona — John Kamoku 5 run (kick failed), 11:30
Hilo — Donovan Kelley 92 run (kick blocked), 10:52
Kona — Chase Takaki 43 pass from Karratti (Takaki pass to Domonic Morris), 3:15
Kona — Kamoku 5 run (kick failed), 1:12
Kona — Kamoku 51 run (kick failed), 3:54
Kona — Dishon Cho 30 run (Gaspar kick), :02
Kona — Gaspar 13 pass from Karratti (Replogle kick), 5:57
Hilo — Kelley 1 run (pass failed), 1:20