Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 |
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HANAPEPE — The steady running of Alika Emayo and the big plays coming from Jonathan Tangalin led the Waimea Menehune to a 20-0 victory in their home opener, Saturday night at Hanapepe Stadium.
The Waimea defense stymied the visiting Hilo Vikings, keeping the Big Island team out of the end zone even when backed up on their own half of the field.
The Menehune’s first drive was a steady ground attack, churning out first downs after Clifton Callejo returned the opening kickoff to the 44-yard line.
Emayo was the workhorse as the Menehune put together a 14-play scoring drive with the running back carrying on 11 of those plays. The junior capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown run, totaling 54 yards on the drive.
Waimea took a 7-0 lead with 5:25 to play in the first quarter.
Hilo responded with a sustained drive of its own, but ultimately stalled in the red zone, coming up empty on a 4th and 6 at the Waimea 17-yard line.
Emayo went back to work quickly, taking a handoff on the first play of the second drive and busting it to the right sideline for a 48-yard scamper. He added a 10-yard run on the next play, but a personal foul penalty later placed the Menehune in a 4th and long situation, killing the chance at additional points.
Tangalin, a defensive back and wide receiver, got Waimea the ball back, settling beneath a Kamaka Lewis pass attempt for an interception and the game’s first turnover at the 8:15 mark of the second.
The possession was short-lived, as Emayo fumbled the first play to give the ball right back to Hilo.
Hilo continued the back-and-forth exchange, as a 2nd down pass was tipped into the air by Keoni Ana and hauled in by Jake Corona.
Waimea then put together a six-play, 65-yard drive, capped off by 40-yard touchdown pass from Jae Delos Reyes to Tangalin. The quarterback rolled to his right, looked back left and lofted a pass over the lone defender. Tangalin went up and pulled it down, outran the defender to the pylon and dove to the corner for the score.
The extra point was true, giving Waimea a 14-0 lead with 4:48 to play in the first half.
Hilo looked poised to respond in kind, getting a good kick return and driving to the Waimea 22-yard line. On a 2nd and 7 play, defensive lineman Ephraim Mose got into the backfield and forced a Lewis fumble, which the Menehune pounced on at their own 30.
The game’s biggest turning point came two possessions later with Waimea still holding the 14-0 advantage.
On a 2nd and 10 at the Hilo 39-yard line, a Delos Reyes pass was intercepted by AJ Midallia. The defensive back began to head upfield, but was spun around by a Waimea offensive player.
Trying to produce a big return, Midallia attempted to lateral the ball to a teammate, but didn’t find a friendly target. The ball bounced loose on the field and Waimea re-gained possession on the Hilo 14.
The very next play, Delos Reyes hit wide receiver Cyrus Simbre-Medeiros on a slant pattern for a touchdown. The missed PAT gave Waimea a 20-0 lead with 1:09 left in the half.
Neither team put up points in the second half, as the Waimea defense continued to make big plays.
Tangalin created another turnover, forcing a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Bronson Fune.
Linebacker Derrin Peleras-Costa got into the backfield and hit Lewis for a big sack, as did defensive back Keone Mattos.
With Hilo threatening to get on the board with a 1st and Goal on the 5-yard line, the Menehune stiffened up and held their ground, ultimately stuffing a run up the gut on 4th down at the 3.
Delos Reyes showed an accurate arm and pocket presence, locating different receivers like his two touchdown targets, plus Kyle Fleming, Callejo and Ana.
Paul Oligo and Kaleb-John Kaiwi helped Emayo with the backfield workload, each getting plenty of reps in the second half resulting in some big gains.
Waimea (1-1) now has two weeks off before its KIF season opener on Sept. 11. The Menehune will host the Kapa‘a Warriors (2-0) that night at Hanapepe Stadium in the final night contest of the year.
Kapa‘a opens the KIF regular season at home against Kaua‘i High School (1-0) on Sept. 4.
The Kaua‘i Red Raiders took on Honoka‘a, Saturday night at Honoka‘a Stadium. Results of that game were unavailable at press time.
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