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BIIF football: Hilo, Huddleston roll again – with a catch

September 10, 2017 - 12:05am

As expected, it was the Kahale Huddleston show, this time with a plot twist.

But don’t go relegating Hilo’s defense to a supporting status. An ensemble cast, it always plays a starring role as well.

Huddleston racked up four more touchdowns Saturday afternoon, showing an impressive set of hands on his second scoring reception, and Hilo mauled Waiakea 54-0 at Ken Yamase Memorial Stadium.

With Huddleston outscoring most BIIF teams on the season all by himself at 18 touchdowns and counting, it can be hard for the Vikings’ defense to get a lot of attention. The names change, but that side of the ball has been a constant force during Hilo’s four-plus years of BIIF Division I football dominance.

“We’re all seniors and we’re close,” linebacker Isaac Liu said. “We clicked during the offseason, and we’re just doing what we do now.”

The Warriors passing game appears to be a season-long work-in-progress, and their running game was obsolete, held to minus-1 yard by the Vikings (4-0, 3-0), who picked up their second consecutive shutout, forcing four turnovers and allowing just 55 yards of total offense.

Because of No. 22, Liu stopped short of saying Hilo’s defense was superior to its offense.

“It’s Kahale, that’s why,” Liu said. “We have a hard time against him in practice. I would have to give it to our offense.”

The unit was otherwise sluggish in the first half with the exception of Huddleston, who ran for two touchdowns and caught a pass out of the backfield from Kaleo Apao and raced 21 yards for a score to help Hilo a 23-0 halftime lead.

In the third quarter, Huddleston lined up at wide receiver and looked like he’d been doing it all along, running a crisp route before snapping a pass out of the air from Kyan Miyasato for a 25-yard touchdown.

“I kind of expected that,” Huddleston said. “I saw the corner go out, so I just wanted to come back in. (Kyan) threw a nice pass.”

His three-game streak of returning a kickoff for a touchdown came to an end, and he can partly blame his defense for that. For the second consecutive game, Hilo’s opponent only kicked off once, to open the second half, and the Warriors made sure to kick away from Huddleston.

“I was kind of mad when they didn’t kick to me, but I understood why,” said Huddleston, who finished with 13 carries for 92 yards, “but I just wanted to help my team out and block for the other guys.”

The Warriors (1-5, 0-3) have lost five in a row and are in the middle of brutal four-game homestand with visits from Kamehameha and Konawaena looming in the next two weeks.

The Vikings travel to Konawaena on Friday in a battle of league unbeatens, and from a developmental perspective it was encouraging for Hilo that Miyasato enjoyed a big second half. Picked off twice in the first half, the sophomore rebounded to throw four touchdown passes, finishing 9 of 22 for 196 yards, including a nice catch-and-run on a 43-yard touchdown by Makana Kanehailua.

“I think it was important for (Kyan’s) psyche more than anything else,” Hilo coach Kaeo Drummondo said. “We had to work the passing game in the second half. It’s nowhere near where it needs to be.

“That was the message at halftime. Execution tells the story, not the score. Execution in the first half was horrible.”

Ka’iolana Kon, Waiakea’s third quarterback, gave his team a fighting chance in the second half, completing 6 of 13 passes for 53 yards, with an interception. The junior was also his team’s leading rusher with 21 yards.

Kashtian Ioane and Micah Bello had interceptions for the Vikings, and the defense came up with a score of their own, pushing quarterback Noah Eblacas back on three consecutive plays in the second quarter to net a safety.

Huddleston likely will continue to be the center of attention as long as he keeps racking up touchdowns, but if there is a player in the defensive side who deserves the spotlight, Liu said he’d have to pick senior defensive tackle Kuresa Toledo.

“He always gives heart,” Liu said. “He never gives up. He’s always there.”

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