Red Raiders want to keep Menehunes in the air

Keep ’em throwing.

That will be the Kaua’i Red Raider strategy as they head into tonight’s Kaua’i Interscholastic Federation opener against the Waimea Menehunes at Hanapepe Field.

“We need to stop the run and make Waimea revert to its passing game,” said Red Raider head coach Keli’i Morgado. “That was Kamehameha’s strategy.”

The Kamehameha Warriors, ranked third in the State in early polls, limited the Menehunes’ lead running back Jordon Dizon to 95 yards on 18 carries. Although that doesn’t seem like a failed performance, Dizon, known as one of the better running backs in the State, failed to reach the end-zone in the game. The junior ran for three touchdowns in an earlier game against Hilo.

The Menehunes’ only score came on an 8-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Jon Palacio to Tyson Fernandez. Overall, Palacio completed 9 of 18 passes for 51 yards.

“We need to load the box and get a number of bodies on Dizon,” said Morgado. “We can’t try to bring him down one-on-one…he’s too strong and quick. We have to gang tackle if we want to stop the run.”

Although the Red Raider line is stacked with talented big men like Jerrick Amaki and Aren Racca (to name a few), their second line of defense remains questionable.

Linebackers Weston Victorino and Ikaika Valmoja, each doubling as Raider running backs, are still bothered by neck and shoulder injuries which had them sidelined in Kaua’i’s 14-7 loss to the Maui Sabres. Morgado said he is still unsure they will be fit to play tonight.

On a brighter note, quarterback Kekoa Crowell is healthy and will start in the regular season opener. The sophomore had a promising tenure with the Raider jayvee team but has yet to take a varsity snap in an official game on Kaua’i.

Morgado said that other than the Raider ability to limit the Menehune run, his team needs to curb mistakes.

“Although this is in every coach’s game plan, we really need to limit mental errors,” said Morgado. “Waimea doesn’t make many and they can hurt you if you do. We really need to play mistake-free football.”

The Menehune-Red Raider varsity game will begin at 7 p.m. at Hanapepe Field. The jayvee game starts at 5:00 p.m.

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