Wildcats romp


HONOKAA — A dropped pass that could have been a touchdown. An interception that led to a Honokaa touchdown. A 10-0 deficit after one quarter.

Konawaena’s football team has been here before, and the way Wildcats quarterback Lii Karratti sees it, nothing really rattles his team.

Facing its 10-point deficit on the road Friday, the supreme confidence Karratti referred to came in the form of 34 unanswered points in the second quarter as the Wildcats rolled to a 49-10 victory over the Dragons in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II contest.

“We didn’t think we were going to lose,’’ said Karratti, who threw all four of his touchdown passes in the second quarter. “We’re pretty confident. We’ve been down before by a lot more.’’

He’s right.

Last season, Konawaena (6-1 BIIF Division II, 6-4 overall) earned two dramatic come-from-behind wins over Hawaii Prep, erasing 14- and 21-point halftime deficits. So the way the Wildcats responded to their deficit against the Dragons (5-2, 6-3) did not surprise Konawaena coach Cliff Walters.

“You can kick them when they’re down, and they’re going to get back up,’’ Walters said.

Konawaena trailed 10-0 after the Dragons’ Justen Kawamoto picked off a Karratti pass in the middle of the field and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown with 1 minute, 11 seconds left in the first quarter.

Konawaena responded by scoring on its next three drives — a stretch in which Karratti completed six consecutive passes. Thanks to the Wildcats’ defense, which forced five Dragon turnovers in the first half and eight for the game, it took the offense less than 5 minutes to take the lead.

Karratti displayed a short memory after the interception, going 3-for-3 for 45 yards and scrambling for a 28-yard run during a seven-play, 80-yard drive that John Kamoku capped with a 2-yard touchdown run.

Then wide receiver Kenan Gaspar, who got behind the Honokaa defense and dropped what likely would have been an 80-yard touchdown pass earlier in the game, recovered a fumble by Honokaa’s Damien Kaluhimoku-Dela Cruz on the ensuing kickoff.

Two plays later, Gaspar fully redeemed himself by streaking down the left sideline and catching a perfectly thrown ball by Karratti in the end zone for a 14-10 lead. Karratti, who threw two interceptions, finished 12-of-19 for 169 yards.

“I just let (the dropped pass) slide and recover,’’ said Gaspar, who also caught a 6-yard touchdown pass and later recorded one of Konawaena’s four interceptions. “We just forget about it and move on.’’

Like Gaspar, junior linebacker Evyn Yamaguchi had an interception and a fumble recovery.

Mikey Rabara and Eric Edumund also picked off Honokaa quarterback Sione Epenesa, who finished 2-of-11 for 25 yards, and Laimana Grace had a fumble recovery.

Konawaena quickly capitalized on Yamaguchi’s fumble recovery, with Karratti rolling out and finding a wide-open Domonic Morris for a 26-yard touchdown pass and a 21-10 advantage.

Grace’s fumble recovery led to a six-play drive that ended with Karratti’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Dishon Cho. Cho also had a 19-yard touchdown run, while Kamoku had 89 rushing yards on 13 carries.

Kawamoto led the Dragons offensively, finishing with 78 yards on 11 carries. But for the most part, Konawaena clamped down on Honokaa’s rushing attack, limiting the Dragons to 68 yards rushing and 93 yards of offense.

“We looked like a millions dollars last week,’’ Honokaa coach Bobby Embernate said, referring to a 55-7 victory over HPA. “This week — 10 cents.’’

Konawaena 0 34 7 8 — 49

Honokaa 10 0 0 0 — 10

First quarter

Hon — FG Justin Warren 34, 6:26

Hon — Justen Kawamoto 22 interception return (Warren kick), 1:11

Second quarter

Kon — John Kamoku 2 run (John Reglogle kick), 9:50

Kon — Kenan Gaspar 23 pass from Lii Karratti (Replogle kick), 8:03

Kon — Domonic Morris 26 pass from Karratti (Replogle kick), 6:40

Kon — Dishon Cho 5 pass from Lii Karratti (run failed), 3:37

Kon — Gaspar 6 pass from Karratti (Replogle kick), 53.4

Third quarter

Kon — Bubba Ellis-Noa 1 run (Replogle kick), 3:37

Fourth quarter

Kon — Cho 19 run (Morris pass from Cho), 10:42

Follow Joe Ferraro on Twitter (@jf_hawaii sports)