LIHU‘E — Following an uneasy preseason and a bye week, not a lot was known about the Kapa‘a Warriors heading into their KIF opener Saturday night against Waimea at Vidinha Stadium.
After four quarters of football, those in attendance to watch Kapa‘a’s dominant 23-13 win over Waimea now know the Warriors are a force to be reckoned with.
The Warriors, led by quarterback John Das, gave the Menehune a dose of their own medicine by running up and down the field.
The Kapa‘a ground attack started on its first drive, with the Warrior’s large offensive linemen making gigantic holes for Das and running back Syndrek D’Sio to waltz through.
The success of the Warrior running game was put on display best in the fourth quarter.
With the Warriors leading 17-7 and the Menehune fighting for a comeback, the Warriors crushed Waimea’s hopes for a 2-0 KIF start with long runs by Das and D’Sio — the highlight being back-to-back first-down runs for the duo. While the drive resulted only in a field goal to put the Warriors up 20-7, the ability to carve up the defense at will, while taking up nearly half a quarter on the clock, proved too much for the Menehune to handle.
“We were competent to take what they were going to give us tonight,” Kapa‘a head coach Keli‘i Morgado said. “It’s my job to figure out how they’re going to try and stop us. We went with the run tonight and it worked well.”
Das led the Warriors with 88 yards rushing. The quarterback also added 53 yards through the air.
Das’ biggest improvement since Kapa‘a’s last game was the way he took care of the football.
Das attempted fewer passes into coverage and impressed Morgado with the way he led the team.
“His competitive spirit gives us a lot,” Morgado said. “He’s able to turn nothing into something on a lot of plays.”
Making up for a slow first half, D’Sio rushed for 80 yards with the majority of those coming late in the game.
The Menehune came into the game on a hot streak. The team began the season 3-0, including last week’s dominating win over Kaua‘i High School. But the Menehune came out flat Saturday night and head coach Keali‘i Aguiar said his team needs to recoup over next week’s bye.
“We have a week off and we have to come back and respond,” Aguiar said. “We have to heal our bodies and focus. We didn’t get it done tonight. We gave them big holes to run through.”
Menehune quarterback Alika Emayo had a quiet night after last week’s breakout game.
He threw for 115 yards in the game, but the majority of those came during the game’s last drive when the score was out of reach.
On the ground, the Menehune spread the running attack around, with Devan Banashian-Kenney getting the most yards with 40 and a touchdown run.
Dennis Rull added 25 yards while Emayo chipped in 22.
It was the Kapa‘a defense that came out of the game looking the most improved.
Two weeks ago against Mt. Douglas the Warriors gave up huge runs up the middle, but Kapa‘a showed how much can change after a bye week.
“I’m happy that we played well tonight against an excellent Waimea team,” Morgado said. “But we got to get back to work.
Next week is a whole other animal with Kaua‘i and their spread offense.”
•Tyson Alger, sports writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or by emailing talger@ thegardenisland.com. Follow him on twitter.com/tysonalger.