Warriors win season debut

LIHUE — Senior running back Leighton Moniz had 17 carries and ran for 135 yards to help the Warriors win their 2016 season debut.

Kapaa High School’s varsity football team defeated Division I school Maui, 16-6, in preseason competition Saturday evening at Vidinha Stadium.

“We knew coming into this game, how our coaches got us prepared, we knew we were going to be ready for them,” Moniz said. “It was all the coaches, and we just executed for them. That’s the main thing.”

Kapaa (1-0) scored two rushing touchdowns in the second quarter. Senior running back Makena Tabura converted on a 4-yard run in the first play of the period, and senior quarterback Kurt Napoleon scored on a 5-yard run at less than five minutes left in the quarter.

“We did a lot of good things. We also made a lot of mistakes — protecting the ball on offense, and gave up some plays on defense,” said Kapaa head coach Philip Rapozo. “But the defense, they bend a little but they don’t break. I’m excited about that. I’m excited about the long drives we had on offense. So, a lot of good things came out tonight for the first game.”

The Warriors defense found itself in the Sabers’ backfield on numerous occasions, accounting for a six total sacks and scoring a safety in the third quarter.

“We were wondering how we’d do tonight because we’re young,” Rapozo said of the defense. “We got some guys injured. We got some guys sick. So, we played some young guys tonight and they stepped up. And they’ll only get better. That’s a good thing to build off of.”

The Warriors quarterbacks, however, were inconsistent. Napoleon was 7-16 for 96 yards and one interception. Freshman backup Kahanu Davis was 3-6 for 22 yards.

“I think, for that, it’s more of the timing between the quarterback and the receivers,” Rapozo said. “We can’t put everything on Kurt. Timing wasn’t good tonight. That was the main thing we struggled with the pass. … He made some mistakes, and he knows what he did. But I’m not concerned about that. We’ll go back, and we’ll work hard. We got to get our timing.”

Rapozo said that it was in the game plan for Davis to come in and get some playing time, and that Napoleon’s starting status is not in question.

“We brought in the freshman just to see what he can do. We didn’t bring him in because we wanted to put Kurt on the side,” he said. “We had already planned on giving him some series and see what he could do.”

Maui’s defense, too, had success in getting the backfield and recorded five sacks.

The Sabers’ defense accounted for the team’s lone score as well. Senior defensive back Alani Malafu got an interception off Napoleon and ran 40 yards to the endzone at just under two minutes left in the second quarter.

“I think it was a good test for us. It gave us a good evaluation of things we need to work on and things we did well,” said Maui head coach Keith Shirota. “We came with a thin crew — only 32 kids. But it’s not an excuse. We just need to execute better, go back and fix some things.”

Maui (0-1), though, struggled to sustain drives on offense. Sabers starting quarterback, senior John Michael Mokiao-Duvauchelle, was 1-10 for 21 yards, and the team totaled just 35 yards rushing.

“Everything starts up front on the line,” Shirota said. “We need to block the right people, first of all, and sustain our blocks. Those are two things we need to work on.”

The Warriors will next travel to Maui to take on Lahainaluna High School. That preseason contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at the Lunas’ home field.

“We know defensively, we’re going to be alright. We know we can run the ball. But like I said, we’re going to fix our timing and the passing game should be alright,” Rapozo said of the upcoming matchup. “I think we’ll be better next week.”

Moniz added: “It should be a fun and exciting game. Lahainaluna is a good team, a smart team. So, it should be a good one.”

Maui will next play Damien Memorial High School of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. The Sabers and the Monarchs are set to face off 7 p.m. Friday at War Memorial Stadium on Maui.

“We played a well-coached team. It was a good test for us, but I think we can be quite a bit better,” Shirota said. “Once we get our other 20 players back, we’ll be a lot better.”

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