Saturday’s display of perseverance a positive for Warriors moving forward

Even more than moving to 3-0 in Kauai

Interscholastic Federation play, Kapaa’s 28-7 victory on Saturday night proved it has both the perseverance and confidence to make this a long and successful season.

Without its two quarterbacks available, the Warriors went to a run-heavy attack led by Shain Davis and Elijah McCarthy-Gouveia. While it may not have been the game plan heading into the contest, Kapaa didn’t miss a beat in its effectiveness. Davis was decisive and elusive in his running style and McCarthy-Gouveia found the end zone twice to ice the game.

Davis was especially impressive as he carried a heavy workload, totaling 104 yards on 14 carries and four receptions. His number was called after starter Rudy Agoot and backup Chaz Pacleb were each knocked out of the game with injuries. Coach Philip Rapozo understandably opted to keep the ball on the ground with his top two signal callers unavailable, but the recipe was exactly what Kapaa needed to salt away the win over Waimea.

On the other side of the ball, the Menehune opened up their style a bit and allowed quarterback Patrick Keamoi-Strickland to make plays with his arm and feet. His size and speed put him towards the top of the list when it comes to pure athletes I’ve had a chance to watch in KIF play. He’s an impressive player and the more he gets the green light, the better for Waimea.

It was a competitive first half and the Menehune still hung tough in the second half, but they appeared to just get worn down. The Warriors managed to break off a number of big runs and pick up first downs at will by spreading the defenders out and taking advantage of the Wildcat formation. They adjusted exceptionally well to their personnel and found a rhythm to remain unbeaten in league play.

Kapaa was ranked third in the ScoringLive Division II rankings heading into the contest and that’s where they remain after the win. The Warriors’ only defeat this season was an 18-16 loss to No. 1 ranked Lahainaluna. The Lunas needed a last-minute touchdown to pull off that victory, so Kapaa has been arguably the most impressive team in D-II to this point and is playing itself directly into championship discussion. Iolani is maintaining the No. 2 ranking for now and probably wouldn’t relinquish that spot unless it drops a D-II regular season game, but the Red Raiders may be coasting on name recognition alone.

While the KIF doesn’t get all that much respect in these types of polls because of its small field of competition, it’s hard to argue with what Kapaa has done so far. Its three KIF games have been won by a combined score of 93-7 and it had the top D-II team on the ropes for almost all 48 minutes of play. Now the Warriors have shown they can still dominate without their skill position starters on the field. The concept of “next man up” was on display Saturday night and that was a great sign for Kapaa to not only hope to earn just its second KIF title since 1989, but to be a legitimate favorite once the state tournament rolls around.

But as is always the case in the KIF, things can change very quickly, so stay tuned.

ROXY PRO READY TO ROLL: Tuesday was a lay day but today could be the start of the women’s Roxy Pro France. At this eighth of 10 stops on the World Championship Tour, Kauai’s Malia Manuel and Alana Blanchard will try to add some points and cash to their season hauls. Manuel opens the event in the first heat, a non-elimination contest with Dimity Stoyle and Pauline Ado. Blanchard will be taking on Stephanie Gilmore and Johanne Defay.

Sally Fitzgibbons now leads the WCT leaderboard in a tight top four with Gilmore, Carissa Moore and Tyler Wright all just behind. Any of those four can take the 2014 title with a strong finish.

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