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High school football: Waveriders look for redemption against Damien in rematch

August 11, 2017 - 9:10pm

KAILUA-KONA — There’s no such thing as a make-or-break game in the preseason — especially against a non-league opponent.

But if last year’s 41-7 drubbing at the hands of Damien proved anything to the Waveriders, it’s that a faulty first step heading into the season can carry over into the games that matter.

The Waveriders get a chance to start the season on the right foot and capitalize on a shot at redemption against the Monarchs today at Waverider Stadium. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. as Kealakehe welcomes the two-time defending ILH Division II champions to Kona.

”It’s going to be physical. They pack a punch. We learned that last year, losing on their turf,” Kealakehe two-way standout Anthony Trevino said. “Now it’s our turn to defend our field.”

Damien has fared well against Big Island squads as of late, also notching a 41-7 victory over HPA during a visit to the Big Island in 2015.

Over the years, the Waveriders have had a tough time against teams from Oahu, holding a 3-19 record.

To add another tally in the win column, Kealakehe will have to get off to a fast start against the Monarchs, who steamrolled Castle 42-7 in their opener, racking up 320 yards of offense and scoring a pair of special teams touchdowns.

Dual-threat quarterback Marcus Faufata-Pedrina led the way, notching three TDs, and junior running back Keoua Kauhi scampered for 128 yards on 21 carries.

“They won convincingly last week, so we expect them to come out with confidence and that championship behavior,” Kealakehe head coach Sam Kekuaokalani said. “We have to be resilient against that early on and continue to execute our game plan.”

Faufata-Pedrina is a player Kealakehe knows well from last season’s matchup, as he had one of his better outings during a stellar junior season against the Waveriders, connecting on 13-of-20 passes for 230 yards and three scores, while also adding 114 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

“I think we saw last year that he’s an agile guy,” Kealakehe senior linebacker Ismail Souza said. “He’s hard to get down.”

Kealakehe has the benefit of returning more than a handful of seniors on the defensive side of the ball — including Souza, Trevino and safety Bryton Lewi — who will be familiar with the Monarchs offensive scheme. But even with the potential absence of Damien’s standout starting center Magnus Fonoti-Faumuina — who went down with a knee injury last week — Kekuaokalani knows one of the biggest challenges against the Monarchs will come in the trenches.

“As far as who they are and what they are about, we know a bit of that from last year. They are big in the trenches and are a disciplined team with a great coach in (Eddie) Klaneski,” Kekuaokalani said. “It’s going to be a battle in there. But for us, it’s just about being prepared. Practice has been great this week and coming away from this, we want to improve. That’s the goal.”

Kealakehe will continue the preseason on Aug. 18 against visiting San Clemente, California squad St. Margarets before opening its BIIF slate at home against rival Konawaena on Aug. 25.

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