LIHUE – An obscure chatter could be heard on the field at Vidinha Stadium Friday night.
Incomprehensible to those in the stands, it reverberated from red jersey to red jersey, bouncing off each player in an invisible cadence.
The Kapa’a Warriors couldn’t hear it, but they felt its presence and understood what it meant: The Kaua’i Red Raiders found out how to communicate, and soon enough they would find a way to score.
Not only did the Raiders find the end-zone, they found it four times – three on Kekoa Crowell TD passes, one on a record-breaking 103 yard interception return by sophomore Kevin Cadiente. They amassed much of their 223 total game yards in the first half and jumped out to an early 28-7 lead – they eventually won the game 28-21.
For the first time, the enigma of Raider head coach Kelii Morgado’s offensive scheme found its form. It culminated into one of the most fan friendly football games the Kaua’i Interscholastic Federation has seen for some time. For the first time since Morgado introduced the passing offense to the Red Raider program, bleacher creatures got a glimpse of what it can do when it works.
“It was nice for our team to realize what our potential is, what we can do,” said Morgado. “Our offensive line, receivers and our quarterback were communicating in the first half. And that’s what we need to do to make this offense work.”
Morgado said his players learned two important points from their first season win: What happens when they maintain a line of communication, and how their offense can crumble when that line breaks down.
“Fatigue set in and we stopped communicating in the second half,” said Morgado, who noted the Raiders failed to score in the final two periods. “So there were two points our guys took from the game: How it works when we are talking out there and how it can effect the team negatively if we don’t communicate.”
With just 29 players on the Raider roster, Morgado understands how difficult it is for his team to avoid fatigue, since most Raiders play both sides of the ball. He expressed a need for young football enthusiasts growing up in and around the Lihue area to take interest in the Kaua’i High program, to build upon its proven potential with numbers.
For quarterback Kekoa Crowell, potential is far-reaching. In just his second KIF varsity game, the sophomore completed 15 of 22 passes for 181 yards. He looked comfortable in the pocket and threw the ball with confidence and efficiency.
“Kekoa is growing leaps in every series,” said Morgado. “He is a quick learner. He has the mental fortitude to make adjustments and learn from his mistakes.”
Crowell’s composure in the pocket was, of course, complimented by his offensive line’s protection – they provided him with room to breathe. And he was also helped by the Raider receivers, who knew where they needed to be in each series of the first half.
“There is no doubt Kekoa has incredible potential, but he can’t do it without the other 10 guys out there,” said Morgado.
Morgado said continued communication, among other things, will be necessary in its second meeting with the Waimea Menehunes on Friday at Vidinha Stadium. Five turnovers in the second half and the rushing of RB Jordon Dizon led to a 34-20 win for the Menehunes, who remain undefeated at 2-0 in the KIF thus far.
“We need to avoid turning the ball over, we need to do a better job of containing Dizon, and we need to be patient on offense – we need to move the chains, give our defense a chance to rest,” said Morgado.
The Raider coach said he is not looking for big plays, although he noted the field is big and allows for room to roam. Essentially, the Red Raiders will be focusing on time management come Friday.