LIHUE — Kauai High School’s varsity football team lost to Konawaena of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, 32-7, Saturday at Vidinha Stadium.
Following the game, Red Raiders head coach Derek Borrero described the loss as “growing pains.”
“This is what you’re going to go through when you’re developing a program and you got a lot of young players,” Borrero said. “We just got to continue to teach, continue to coach and motivate.”
“I’m really proud of these boys because no one is fussing. No one is acting immature,” he added. “They understand where they’re at and they’re eager to learn and improve. You can only be happy about that.”
The Red Raiders (0-2) struck first in the game’s opening drive. Senior running back Bulla Rapacon crossed the goal line at 4th and goal on the 1-yard line.
“It was a real promising drive for us. I was really excited about opening the game like that,” Borrero said.
The Wildcats from the Big Island would then score 32 unanswered points.
“We didn’t fold. It would be easy to fold out here and just unravel,” said Konawaena head coach Brad Uemoto. “We bounced back. We showed a lot of character tonight. I’m proud of them.”
In the ensuing possession following Rapacon’s score, Wildcats junior running back Micah Laban scored on a 2-yard run. The extra point attempt failed, bringing Konawaena to a 7-6 deficit.
Wildcats senior defensive back Kupono Kane intercepted a pass from Red Raiders sophomore quarterback Aukai Albao on Konawaena’s 4-yard line. He then ran the ball 96 yards to the endzone for the Wildcats’ second score just as the first quarter ended. The converted extra point attempt gave the team a 12-7 lead.
“We got some good athletes in the secondary and we just asked them to make plays tonight. They did, man,” Uemoto said. “The defense has really stepped up for two weeks now. It’s something we really want to keep going.”
Wildcats sophomore quarterback Austin Ewing threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter — one for 28 yards to senior receiver Kayson Mahiai and the other for 15 yards to Kane.
Laban scored once more in the third quarter with a 7-yard run.
“I think it’s just always hard to travel, especially this far and get a win over a quality opponent,” Uemoto said. “We’re happy to get out of here with a win tonight.”
Albao had three interceptions in the game. Borrero said he won’t run the ball every play and become one-dimensional despite Albao’s struggles.
“If we just lean one way and just depend on the two senior running backs (Rapacon and Jhustin Balisacan), they’re going to shut that down sooner or later,” Borrero said. “If we run those two boys into the ground, I’m not going to be able to teach my quarterback what we want to do. I need to allow him to make mistakes.”
Konawaena (2-0) begins its BIIF season against Waiakea on Friday.
“(Waiakea is) a Division I opponent. Another tough matchup,” Uemoto said. “We were able to put some more points on the board and really establish a lead, which was really important against a team like this. If we can continue to do that, I’m very confident going into the league (season).”
Kauai will play in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation season opener Friday against Kapaa (2-0) at Vidinha Stadium. The junior varsity game will begin at 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
“We’re looking forward to playing against the best, because they are the best right now. They rolled everybody last year,” Borrero said about the upcoming matchup with the Warriors. “To improve and get better, you got to go against the best.”