HILO — Drew Kell’s all-around performance on Friday night at a packed Wong Stadium highlighted an exciting shootout that was a tuneup between Hilo and Waiakea for next week’s do-or-die playoff game.
The junior quarterback produced three touchdowns, relying on his right arm, feet and pocket savvy to power the Vikings over the Warriors 38-21 in the final Big Island Interscholastic Federation football regular season game for each team.
Hilo (4-2 BIIF, 6-2 overall) clinched the No. 2 seed in the BIIF Division I semifinals and will host No. 3 seed Waiakea (2-4, 3-6) at 7 p.m. Friday at Wong.
The winner advances to the BIIF championship for the league’s lone berth to the Division I state tournament, while the loser ends its season.
Kell was equally effective running or throwing. He rushed for 51 yards on 13 carries, scoring on a 5-run in the second quarter that gave Hilo a 21-7 lead. He completed 17 of 31 passes for 236 yards, firing a pair of touchdown strikes to Jacob Genegabuas (1 and 11 yards), and tossing one interception.
Hilo won the turnover battle, committing only one to Waiakea’s four (Tyler Mahoe had two picks, Kamu Patnaude had one, and the other was a fumble on a backward pass).
Waiakea played without quarterback Kean Wong, who was attending the Arizona Fall Senior Classic, a high-caliber showcase scouted by Major League Baseball teams and colleges.
Kayed Rodrigues replaced him, and the Warriors gave their homecoming crowd something to cheer about on the game’s opening drive, marching 72 yards on nine plays and scoring on Devin Preston’s 19-yard touchdown run.
Rodrigues was 8-of-13 for 176 yards, with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Preston rushed for 69 yards on 16 carries. Dayton Kiko hauled in two passes for 86 yards, scoring on a 60-yard catch-and-run sprint to the end zone.
Mahoe made two big plays to set up a pair of touchdowns, pushing the visitors, who also call Wong Stadium home, to a 14-7 lead.
On the Vikings’ second possession, he caught a 33-yard pass from Kell to set up Tristan Spikes’ 30-yard touchdown run. Spikes finished with 67 yards on 11 attempts.
Four plays into Waiakea’s ensuing series, Mahoe picked off Rodrigues and returned the ball to the Warrior 27. Nine plays later, Kell fired a 1-yard scoring strike to Genegabuas for a 14-7 lead.
The Mahoe ohana had reason to celebrate, again, when Waiakea went for it on fourth-and-9 from the Hilo 39 and Haili Mahoe, Tyler’s cousin, sacked Rodrigues.
Hilo scored on another short drive, needing just five plays with Kell rushing in from 5 yards out. It was 21-7, but there was little comfort in the two-touchdown lead.
Kiko picked off Kell, and Rodrigues capitalized, throwing a 30-yard touchdown rainbow to Jaden Segovia.
It was 21-14, with Hilo on top at halftime, the same score in the first meeting between the two. And there were 24 more minutes left to entertain a crowd hungry for more scores.
The Vikings opened the third quarter with a clock-draining, 12-play scoring drive that covered 65 yards. Kell whipped another scoring strike to Genegabuas, an 11-yard TD.
Only two play into the ensuing possession, Rodrigues threw a quick slant to Kiko, and he cut against the grain against an overloaded defense for a 60-yard score.
Unfortunately for the Waiakea home crowd, that was the last episode of excitement.
Kell answered with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Higa-Gonsalves.
Then Isi Holani sacked Rodrigues for a safety, pushing the score to 35-21.
Patnaude got his interception, and it eventually led to Keola Miller’s 24-yard field goal.
In the junior varsity, it was Waiakea 22, Hilo 0.
Hilo 7 14 14 3 — 38
Waiakea 7 7 7 0 — 21
Wai — Devin Preston 19 run (Dayton Kiko kick), 9:08
Hilo — Tristan Spikes 30 run (Keola Miller kick), 5:11
Hilo — Jacob Genegabuas 1 pass from Drew Kell (Miller kick), 11:56
Hilo — Kell 5 run (Miller kick), 7:42
Wai — Jaden Segovia 30 pass from Kayed Rodrigues (Kiko kick), 2:25
Hilo — Genegabuas 11 pass from Kell (kick failed), 5:22
Wai — Kiko 60 pass from Rodrigues (Kiko kick), 4:27
Hilo — Tyler Higa-Gonsalves 4 pass from Kell (run failed), 2:32
Hilo — Safety Isi Holani sack Rodrigues end zone, 1:47
Hilo —FG 24 Miller, 9:31