The uniforms Kealakehe’s football team sported during the Waveriders’ first two league championship seasons became a hit with this year’s offensive line.
The linemen, who have spent the entire season creating big holes for Lennox Jones and Kealakehe’s other running backs, liked the looser fit of the 2004-05 uniforms, which Sam Papalii introduced during his first stint as Kealakehe’s coach.
Jones was among many on the team who had no problem with granting the linemen’s request to wear them in the Waveriders’ Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I semifinal against Keaau, and they again made life pretty easy for the senior.
The senior rushed for 126 yards and three touchdowns and also caught a touchdown pass as the Waveriders defeated the Cougars 31-8.
“They take care of us; we take care of them,’’ Jones said of his linemen wanting to wear the team’s North Carolina blue uniforms, which feature a royal blue stripe that runs across the shoulder pads.
The victory over the Cougars (0-7 BIIF Division I, 0-9 overall) gave the top-seeded Waveriders (7-0, 9-1) an opportunity to shoot for their third straight Division I title next Saturday, when they host second-seeded Hilo (5-2, 7-2) at 7 p.m.
Kealakehe’s semifinal against Keaau was never in doubt, with the Waveriders running the ball on their first 33 plays and churning out 258 of their 325 rushing yards in the first half.
The offensive line of Prince Samoa, Giovanni Chanes-Rodriguez, Siosaia Kalavi, Tui Eli and Feke Sopoaga-Kioa paved the way for Jones, senior running back Giuseppi Zapataoliva (nine carries, 69 yards) and senior quarterback Jordan Cristobal (11 carries, 46 yards).
The Waveriders waited until the closing seconds of the first half to attempt their first pass — an 8-yard touchdown pass from Cristobal to Jones that gave Kealakehe a 24-0 lead with 12.8 seconds remaining. Jones set up his TD reception by knifing through a hole in the middle of the offensive line for a 53-yard run.
As he has done all season, Jones gained many of his yards on misdirection plays. Kealakehe emptied its bench after Jones scored on a 4-yard touchdown run that gave the Waveriders a 31-0 lead with 8:47 left in the third quarter.
“We had some fat holes again,’’ Jones said.
Meanwhile, the Cougars found moving the ball extremely difficult, managing just 93 yards of offense.
The Waveriders’ defense smothered the Cougars’ running game from the start, with Kealakehe’s Manase Hungalu and Loto Mareko each stuffing Keaau on fourth-and-1 running plays and forcing turnovers on downs.
As a result, Kealakehe began its first three drives in Keaau territory.
Keaau’s offense got a boost with the return of quarterback Keha Wong, who had missed the team’s last three regular-season games because of reasons Cougars coach Mike Nonies did not want to disclose.
However, Kealakehe’s defense clamped down on the senior, who completed 8 of 17 passes for 63 yards and left the game after Chanes-Rodrigues sacked him early in the fourth quarter. Keaau did not pick up a first down until the 1:18 mark in the third quarter.
Hungalu also had a sack and an interception, Paogofie picked off a pass, and Travis Lualemaga had a sack. The Cougars, riddled by injuries this year, had more on Saturday, with junior Raskassa Johnson leaving with a knee injury.
“They gave their all, and that’s all we can ask,’’ Nonies said of his players.
However, Nonies didn’t want to use the injuries as an excuse for the outcome of the game.
“They outplayed us,’’ Nonies said of Kealakehe.
Keaau 0 0 0 8 — 8
Kealakehe 6 19 6 0 — 31
Keal — Lennox Jones 2 run (kick failed), 5:13
Keal — Jones 20 run (run failed), 9:47
Keal — Kainoa Kipapa 13 run (pass failed), 5:40
Keal — Jones 8 pass from Jordan Cristobal (Jones kick), 12.8
Keal — Jones 4 run (run failed), 8:47
Kea — Kaimana Schilling 5 run (Talon Ota pass from Jared Quihano-Makaweo), 4:33