HANAPEPE – The stage is set for the Waimea Menehunes – at home, on homecoming, one win from their 11th straight Kaua’i Interscholastic Federation championship, one more chance to prove to their supporters nothing has changed in the hierarchy of high school football on Kaua’i.
The Menehunes host the Kaua’i Red Raiders Friday at Hanapepe Stadium in what may determine the KIF season. If Waimea wins, it will clinch the second round and, ultimately, the KIF title. If Kaua’i wins, there still lies the probability of a tie for the second round, which could result in a playoff game.
But under the lights of Hanapepe, with elders, parents and longtime fans lining the end-zone of High School Football Magazine’s 5th most viewer friendly football venue, a Menehune loss is unheard of.
Still undefeated in the regular season, Waimea has proven it can swiftly regroup following the loss of half of its 2001 team to graduation.
Thus far, the Menehunes have outscored the KIF 125-33. Their offense averages a league leading 342 yards per game – much of it gained by running back Jordan Dizon, who has rushed for 989 yards and 13 touchdowns in four games.
Waimea’s defense allows a league low average of 218 yards per game and has forced 17 turnovers – an average of just over 4 turnovers per game. The Menehunes have only committed 5 turnovers in the regular season.
Despite the numbers, the Menehunes haven’t forgotten they barely beat the Red Raiders in their last meeting early October. In a slight 7-0 win, Dizon was held to a season low 176 yards rushing and the Menehunes were stuffed on fourth down three times – one time on the goal line. Despite being shut out for three quarters, Waimea capitalized on their opponent’s mistakes. Defensive back Cory Rita picked off a pass from Kaua’i quarterback Kekoa Crowell late in the fourth quarter, which led to a 1-yard Dizon TD run to give the Menehunes their third league victory.
But while the slim win proved there was a diminishing of disparity in the KIF, the Red Raiders have not showcased the kind of passing offense which proved electric in their 28-21 win over the Kapa’a Warriors earlier this season. In the last two games, the Raiders have scored just seven points and have committed eight turnovers.
If the mistakes the spill into Friday, the Raiders won’t have a chance. Waimea doesn’t make many, and they hurt teams that do. Expect a turnover to be the difference again this time.