“The fate of the Red Raiders depends on how Kekoa (Crowell) plays,” a fan was overheard saying during one of the two pre-season games Kaua‘i High School was involved in earlier in August.
Crowell, however, is only one finger in a Red Raider hand that has five fingers.
Over the years, the Kaua‘i starting QB has been honed to become one of the better signal callers in the league, some people remembering his days in the JV squad when the coaches had him pass every play.
This has developed the junior QB to become a strong passer, accumulating 153 yards in their loss to El Camino Real, and another 150 yards in their Punahou encounter.
Add Max Hadwin to the equation, and you have a formidable administrative backfield force as Hadwin notched the score against the Raiders’ loss to Punahou last weekend, the junior QB making his only pre-season showing against Punahou hitting Weston Victorino for 26 yards as well as contributing 28 yards rushing.
Hadwin’s abilities are not limited to passing as he demonstrated his “get things done” ability by pushing through for critical first downs and scores while heading up the JV squad.
Both Crowell and Hadwin have demonstrated their abilities to gain yardage on the ground as well, moving on option plays out of the shotgun.
A sprinkle of Weston Victorino, a pinch of Niko Elvinia, and the mix is getting there, Elvinia averaging 5.4 yards a carry against the Conquistadores.
On the outside, Justin Arakaki, senior, has proven to be an asset with his quick hands, and hard hitting defense, a combination that has earned him a spot in some fans’ hearts.
Add the Lance Okasaki touch who magically opened up the cloud of white-clad Conquistadores for a needed first down on Their side of the field, mix in some Garen Itamura snags, one of which yielded points against the Conquistadores, and the cake will have the opposing defense earning their meal.
Stir in some Brian Rodriguez for the offensive icing, and the cake is almost done.
The big variable is defense as the Red Raiders allowed 326 rushing yards against El Camino while holding the Conquistadores to just 28 yards in the air, Kevin Cadiente doing a superb job riding the receivers.
And then there was Punahou, where the Red Raider defense kept the Puns to just 73 yards on the ground, but allowed 317 yards in the air.
The Raiders have shown they can do the job, but what will happen on Friday?
Aside from Cadiente’s prowess at hounding opposing receivers, there is Arakaki who came up with an intercepted pass against Punahou, Justin Kashiwabara who was in the thick of battle.
On paper, the Red Raiders appear ready to take on the task of trying to be the Division I representative, but what looks good on paper, sometimes does not become reality.
They have the biggest squad of the three high schools at 52 listed on the roster; they have the experienced coaching staff headed up by Keli‘i Morgado, and above all, they have fan support who have turned out in numbers at Red Raider home games.
Parents mill about waiting the end of practice that goes until the final minute, bonding with each other just as team players bond on and off the field. They turn out to help at fund-raisers, at the Farm Fair food booth, and at the game.
This fifth finger brings the four other fingers together as a hand, and despite dropping two pre-season encounters, that experience may have been a testing ground to see just what a hand can accomplish when all the fingers function together.
The Red Raiders coaching staff consists of Dirk Apao, Dodd Apao, Derek Borrero, Wesley Chow, Josh Mori, Dean Petro, Allen Racca, and Mike Tressler.
Maggi Celebrado and Famie Ng are the team managers with Brandon Fujita as the team’s academic advisor.
Linda Smith is the school’s principal, Charlene Quinones, the school’s athletic director, and Keith Burgess is the trainer.
Game time on Friday is 5 p.m. for the JV contest, and 7:35 p.m. for the varsity matchup.
The game will be aired live on KONG AM570 and televised on a delay basis on Sunday, Channel 6.