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BIIF football: Konawaena strikes early, beats Kamehameha for 3rd straight title

Updated: 
October 21, 2017 - 12:05am

KEALAKEKUA — On a quest to hoist the BIIF Division II championship belt for a third consecutive year, Konawaena delivered the first haymaker and the last.

The Wildcats scored on the first play of the game and notched a pair of fourth quarter scores to hold off Kamehameha-Hawaii in a defensive battle 17-9 at Julian Yates Field on Saturday night.

The BIIF title is the third consecutive for the Wildcats and sixth in the last seven years. The Warriors have to settled for their third consecutive runner-up finish, with the program’s last title coming in 2014.

Konawaena advances to the HHSAA D-II tournament, which begins Nov. 3. The Wildcats’ opponent and where the game will be held is still to be decided.

Two-time BIIF Offensive Player of the Year Austin Ewing didn’t have the gaudiest stat line, but the senior did all the little things that has made him the centerpiece of a trio of BIIF title squads. As a passer, he finished the night 13 of 29 for 176 yards with a touchdown and a pair of interceptions. He also hauled in the 78-yard opening score on a trick play as a receiver, lined up for some some reps on defense and blocked Kamehameha’s PAT to close out the night.

Tyler Libarios tossed the first TD of the night and collected an even 100 yards receiving. Konawaena running back Chauncey Mariani-Louis had to battle for every inch, notching 81 yards on a grueling 21 carries.

Kamehameha quarterback Kaimi Like completed 19 of 31 passes for 204 yards and a late touchdown strike. The junior also had a pair of second half interceptions.

With the teams having met in the regular season earlier this month, Konawaena head coach Brad Uemoto talked a lot about adding new wrinkles in the weeks leading up to the game. Kamehameha didn’t have to wait long to see one.

Out of the Wildcat, Libarios took the first snap of the game at QB, which on just about every occasion this year has meant run. Not this time, as the senior wide receiver cocked his arm and hit a streaking Ewing down the sideline for a 78-yard opening touchdown.

It took a bit of time for Kamehameha to recover from the opening haymaker and the Warriors didn’t break into positive offensive yardage until near the end of the first quarter.

Kamehameha’s best early chance for points came after senior linebacker Isaac Ysaguirre snagged a pass over the middle, picking off Ewing on just his third attempt of the game. The Warriors took over at the Konawaena 25-yard line, but despite getting a first down via a pass interference flag and a 1st and goal opportunity, the Warriors could not turn the chance into anything on the scoreboard, missing a 34-yard field goal.

It became a battle of field position for the rest of the half, with Kamehameha pinning Konawaena deep in its own territory on more than a few occasions. After backing up the Wildcats to their own 1-yard line in the second quarter, the Warriors capitalized on the stellar field position. After a few short gains, Justin Kenoi did the rest, drilling a no doubt, 38-yard kick to make it 7-3, a score that would hold until half.

After the first meeting, both coaches talked about the need to minimize mistakes and it was undoubtedly a topic in the locker room after a fairly clean first half.

In the second half, the untimely penalties, turnovers and miscues started to pile up and it quickly became a matter of who would capitalize first.

Konawaena had the first chance of the second half, when Seau Amor tipped a pass over the middle and Boaz Ayers picked off the wobbling ball. The Wildcats punted.

Konawaena had another opportunity after Like fumbled a snap and Paka Cacoulidis recovered near midfield, giving possession back to Konawaena. The Wildcats missed a field goal.

Finally, the Warriors got their chance to move the ball when a roughing the punter penalty kept a drive alive. After driving inside the Wildcats’ 20-yard line, the Warriors snapped the ball into a man in motion, with Ayers coming up with a clutch fumble recovery.

The Wildcats didn’t whiff on a third gifted chance from the Warriors. After a punt with that moved the sticks just two yards, Ewing didn’t waste anytime finding his favorite target Libarios for a big gainer down the right sideline, putting the Konawaena inside the 10-yard line. Ewing completed the drive with a 5-yard connection with Hunter Wehrsig.

Kamehameha could not get much going after the score, and were forced to try some trickery of their own with time ticking away. It turned into a interception by Jeriah Cacal, and Ethan Abe added another shortly after.

Harry Hill’s 37-yard field goal made it a two touchdown game with a little over three minutes left, helping the Wildcats survive a late 34-yard touchdown catch and run by Kamehameha’s Izayah Chartrand-Penera.

But after failing to recover the onside kick, Konawaena closed out the contest appropriately, with Ewing notching the final first down of the night.

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