WAIMEA – The apparent thinning of disparity in the Kaua’i Interscholastic Federation football league is welcomed by the Waimea Menehunes, who give credit to the Kaua’i Red Raiders and Kapa’a Warriors for bringing competition back to a league normally dominated by blue jerseys.
“I must give credit where credit is due,” said Waimea head coach Jon Kobayashi. “[Kaua’i and Kapa’a] are playing good football. Things aren’t always going to be handed to us, that’s just not the way it works.”
The Warriors (0-2), who will travel to Hanapepe to face the Menehunes (3-0) this Friday, were resilient in its first meeting with the team garnering 10 consecutive KIF championships. In the first half, Kapa’a led by a touchdown and forced Waimea to punt three times in its first four possessions. Waimea went on to win 29-6, capitalizing on four Warrior turnovers and three rushing TDs by running back Jordon Dizon. But Waimea was forced to test its resolve in the final two periods, something it also had to do in its slim 7-0 win over the Red Raiders last Friday.
“The other two schools know what we’re doing, there are no secrets,” said Kobayashi. “We need the competition. It’s what will make us stronger as a team.”
The Menehunes, undefeated in the 2001 KIF season, escaped what could have been its first regular season loss Friday following an interception by defensive back Cory Rita, which set up a 1-yard game-winning TD run by Dizon. Despite 231 yards of total offense, including 192 on the ground, the Menehunes were shut out by the Raiders for three quarters and struggled to find the end zone.
But in no way was Friday’s game a sign of decline for the Menehunes’ offensive scheme. Waimea has scored eight touchdowns in the regular season and averages 269 total yards per game. With 61 points in two games, offense isn’t Waimea’s problem. Rather, offsetting tough KIF defenses has become its biggest challenge.
The Menehunes committed two fumbles and were stuffed on fourth down three times by the Red Raider defense. On the flip side, the Red Raiders, coming off of a 28-21 offensive explosion over the Warriors a week before, were stifled twice for turnovers-on-downs and committed three turnovers – including the Rita interception which cost them the game.
What this means?
At this point, the KIF hasn’t been decided on offense or defense in particular, but on which team makes the most mistakes.
– In its 29-6 win over Kapa’a, Waimea’s sluggish first half performance stemmed from costly penalties. Although the Menehunes had nine total penalties in the game, the Warriors returned in the second half with four turnovers, providing “Big Blue” with too many offensive opportunities, and “Lean Green” with too few.
– The Warriors returned the following week to post 377 total yards on the Red Raiders, but despite the offensive success, several mistakes, including 1) an interception which Kaua’i DB Kevin Cadiente ran back 103 yards for a TD and 2) a fumble in the final minute that nixed their attempt to tie the game, proved to be the difference in the Warrior’s 28-21 defeat.
– Four interceptions for the Red Raiders in their season opener against Waimea- two leading to Menehune TDs – hushed their otherwise loud offense. Waimea won the game by 14 points, 34-20.
– And of course, the fourth quarter interception by Rita ended the Raiders hopes for an upset. Kaua’i’s defense shut out the Menehunes for three quarters before Dizon capitalized on the fourth quarter turnover. Final score: 7-0.