LIHUE — The Kauai High Red Raiders opened their KIF regular season Friday, edging the Kapaa Warriors 6-3 at Vidinha Stadium.
In front of more than 2,000 people, the Red Raiders and the Warriors relied on their defenses the entire night.
In the game’s opening drive, the Red Raiders, behind running back Reggie McFadden, looked as if they would jump out to an early score, driving the ball from their own 20-yard line to the Warriors’ 8-yard line in 12 plays.
But the Warriors clamped down and sacked quarterback Kelson Andrade in the drive’s following play, and followed that with an interception of Andrade by Daniel Alonzo on the next.
The Warriors took over on their own 20-yard line and gathered two first downs before the Red Raiders’ defense held.
From there, both defenses were stout, leading to a halftime score of 0-0.
The Warriors opened up the third quarter going three and out with the Red Raiders doing the exact same in their quarter opening drive.
It wasn’t until Kapaa’s fifth drive of the game that they were finally able to draw first blood and put some points on the board.
Fielding a punt at the Red Raiders’ 36-yard line with 7:36 remaining in the third quarter, Leevi Bethal sparked the Warriors’ attack returning the football to the 22-yard line.
A helmet-to-helmet penalty on the Red Raiders in Kapaa’s following play put the Warriors in a first-and-goal scenario on the Red Raiders’ 9-yard line.
After two rushing attempts by Rudy Agoot landed them back 2 yards, Kauai High commited an encroachment penalty, putting Kapaa on the 6-yard line. Warrior quarterback, Fresno Masaniai, failed to connect with Turtle Kuhaulua in the endzone on third-and-goal, setting up a chip shot for kicker Jonathan Paleka, who nailed the 16-yard field goal with 5:30 left in the third quarter, putting the Warriors up 3-0.
But just as the Red Raiders matched the Warriors on defense all night, they responded with a scoring drive of their own.
Fueled by McFadden’s legs, Andrade’s arm, and a couple of personal foul penalties against Kapaa, the Red Raiders drove to the Warriors’ 15-yard line.
The drive was set up by a big 8-yard fourth down conversion from Andrade to Kalawaia Judd and a 12-yard run by Andrade.
McFadden ran the ball in on the next play for a 15-yard touchdown. The Red Raiders missed the PAT to bring the score to 6-3 with 1:44 remaining in the third quarter.
Kapaa had three more shots in the final quarter after forcing Andrade to fumble and preventing the Red Raiders’ offense from getting going.
The Warriors failed to convert on a fourth down and 2 on Kauai’s 27-yard line early in the fourth quarter and weren’t able to march into striking distance the rest of the quarter.
The Red Raiders took over the ball with 1:39 remaining in the game and iced it behind three rushes from Andrade and McFadden.
Head coach of Kauai High, Tommy John Cox, thought Kapaa’s overall nature was the reason for their offensive struggles.
“They’re tough, they’re fast, they play hard,” Cox said.
Kelii Morgado, the Warriors’ head coach, pointed to the Red Raiders’ gameplan as to why they came up short.
“They exposed our weaknesses tonight,” Morgado said. “Which is a young inexperienced O-line and an undersized D-line.”
Cox believes his team can clean up their mistakes and hopes his team can get their passing game going next game. Morgado’s improvements lie on strengthening his team’s weaknesses.
Kauai finished with 197 total yards on offense, while Kapaa finished with 68.
McFadden of the Red Raiders led all rushers with 115 yards and scored the game’s only touchdown.
Andrade finished 10 of 14 with 61 yards through the air, an interception and a fumble.
Kapaa’s quarterback, Masaniai, went 7 of 13 through the air, throwing for 67 yards.
The Warriors will have a bye week next while Kauai High School travels to Waimea to play the Menehune of Waimea High School.
In junior varsity action, Kapaa defeated Kauai, 35 to 7.
Next week’s games will be at Hanapepe Stadium and will begin with JV at 5 p.m. and varsity to follow at 7:30 p.m.