LIHUE — The Kauai High Red Raiders concluded their preseason Saturday, taking down out-of-state opponent Cottage Grove High School 41-21.
The Lions, who made the trip from Cottage Grove, Ore., were the much bigger team in the matchup and were able to draw first blood against the defending Kauai Interschlastic Federation champions.
Led by quarterback Scotty Hitner, the Lions jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, scoring on a 3-yard connection from Hitner to Oscar Rauda. The touchdown, capped with the Brad Bonds point-after boot with just 26 ticks remaining in the period, finished an impressive first quarter drive for the Lions that originally started from its own 13-yard line.
The Red Raiders offense responded immediately when senior Kaiea Iwasaki brought Kauai into striking distance with a 51-yard kickoff return starting from its own 5-yard line.
From the Cottage Grove 44-yard line, the Red Raiders were able to punch it in on just three plays with Kyron Rapacon finishing the drive with a 1-yard rushing touchdown early in the second quarter.
Red Raiders quarterback Kelson Andrade would tack on two touchdowns through the air with Hitner throwing for one of his own, giving the Red Raiders, a 21-14 lead over the Lions at the break.
In the opening drive of the third quarter, the Red Raiders pounded the ball down the Lion’s throats with eight straight running plays. Leading the Red Raiders’ attack was Kyrus and Kyron Rapacon as the duo combined for 53 yards in the second half’s first drive. Kyrus Rapacon added the final touches with a 20-yard rushing score.
The Red Raiders would continue this onslaught on the ground for the remainder of the game, passing just one more time before the final whistle.
Kauai High school scored two more rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter and Hitner passed for another, cementing the final score at 41-21 in favor of the Red Raiders.
Red Raiders head coach Tommy John Cox was happy with his team’s overall performance but still thinks his defense needs improvement.
“I think we just need to be a little bit more aggressive on the defensive side of the ball,” Cox said. “You know, make things happen, cause some turnovers.”
The Red Raiders offense finished with 377 total yards with 270 of those yards coming from the ground. Andrade threw for 107 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 64 yards. Racking up the yards on the ground was the Rapacons. Kyron rushed for 58 yards and two touchdowns while Kyrus rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown of his own.
Hitner finished with 173 yards and three touchdowns through the air with the only blemish being an interception in the second quarter.
Kauai High School will start its KIF regular season, Friday when it hosts Kapaa High School at Vidinha Stadium. The junior varsity game kicks off at 5 p.m. followed by the varsity matchup scheduled for 7:30 p.m.