LIHUE – They expected Castle, they got Kailua.
That’s how the practice agenda for Waimea changed overnight.
“Our guess was Castle, so that’s who we were preparing for,” said Waimea head coach Jon Kobayashi, who attended the Knights’ 25-0 upset of the Surfriders last Friday in the OIA championship game at Aloha Stadium. “Now that we have to prepare for Kailua, things have changed. Both of those teams have different players and a different look.”
Instead of Castle, a defense-oriented team with relatively undersized players, the Menehune will meet the Kailua Surfriders Friday in the quarterfinals of the 2002 Chevron High School State Football Championships.
Kailua (8-2) is the OIA’s premiere offense with strengths in size and depth. The Surfriders average 445 yards a game, sharing the wealth equally between its passing (251 ypg.) and rushing (206 ypg.) schemes. They scored 40 points per game this season and allowed just 187 yards per game defensively.
Kobayashi knows last week was not the usual Kailua football team. He’s heard about the mammoth offensive numbers and knows how the Surfriders had the top defense in the East Division of the OIA this year, never allowing an opponent to score more than 23 points in a game.
“Castle just wanted it more and Kailua made mistakes,” he said. “We know it was an off game for them.”
Kobayashi said the Menehune need to limit mistakes, stay penalty-free and let Kailua commit the errors, much like the Knights were able to do in the OIA title game. Although that’s vintage Menehune football, expect the KIF champs to make slight changes on offense and defense.
The Surfriders will prepare this week primarily for Waimea running back Jordon Dizon, who has rushed for over 1,100 yards and 15 TDs this season. Having played six games in the KIF regular season against defenses focusing on the junior phenom, this is not something they’ll be baffled by. Although they know Kailua features linemen and linebackers more sizeable than what they’ve seen in the KIF, the Menehune still have two other talented running backs in Rhyan Parbo and Pomokai Chang Wo, who will likely play an integral role come Friday.
Expect the Menehune to throw more than they’re used to. Against a bigger Kailua team, the run will turn into a hindrance if Waimea remains one-dimentional. But although quarterback Jon Palacio’s average of 9 pass attempts per game will likely increase, Waimea isn’t one to abandon its identity. The Menehune will still play the running game that has won them 11 straight KIF titles.
Dizon played well the few times he joined the Menehune defense this season, and there’s no doubt he will serve a more permanent role this Friday. He will join a group including Gary Mata, Brandon Ishibashi, Kalae Durant and Austin Alquiza, among others, in trying to offset the Surfriders’ running game.
DB’s Tyson Fernandez and Dane Koga will be the keys to stopping the Surfriders’ electric passing offense, and they will also need to provide an offensive boost as Menehune wide receivers.
Waimea may find itself a bit rusty following a three week lull from their last KIF game. But according to Kobayashi, the time was needed.
“It gave us time to rest up and get healthy,” said Kobayashi. “Besides, we do this every year. We’re used to it.”