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BIIF football: Size matters not for Kamehameha’s Mathieu

Updated: 
September 21, 2017 - 9:02pm

Kamehameha defensive end Jashen Mathieu doesn’t look like a sackmaster. He’s 5 feet 10 and 170 pounds. That’s the typical frame of a slotback or corner.

But looks are deceiving when you watch the Warrior senior on film or from the bleachers on a football field.

Mathieu absolutely brings it. He goes full blast on every play. Obviously, he plays much bigger than his size, a reason for his 22 sacks on the season.

“He’s got a nonstop motor. He keeps moving, and he’s very fast and strong,” Kamehameha coach Dan Lyons said. “He understands what our defense wants to do and plays every play as hard as he can. He doesn’t take any plays off.”

Someone forgot to tell Mathieu that undersized rush ends aren’t supposed to dominate the line of scrimmage, especially against bigger blockers.

But there he was, applying his trade skill: bull-rushing and making Waiakea offensive linemen uncomfortable in Kamehameha’s 47-0 victory in a BIIF game last Saturday.

So how does Mathieu compile his sacks?

“It’s mainly hard work, and my coaches’ blitz calls free me up,” he said. “My D-line helps out all the time, and I also go against our O-line in practice. I think they’re the best O-line in the league.”

Thaze Gomes, a junior, is the other end. Kekoa Viernes and Grayson Cosier, a pair of seniors, are the tackles.

Mathieu picked up two sacks but missed two more when quarterback Kai’olana Kon raced to the perimeter. Mathieu couldn’t get into position to attack Kon’s outside shoulder, which would have forced the QB back into traffic.

But that’s a small potatoes technicality. Lions don’t brush their teeth before dinner. And that’s how Mathieu treats someone with the ball like he’s starving.

He was a big-time presence against Waiakea and not just with his QB pressure. His pursuit skills travel all over the field.

After he missed his second sack in the third quarter, Mathieu didn’t stop moving and tackled Kon five yards down the field.

In the second quarter with Waiakea punting, there was a bad snap, and Mathieu blasted through the O-line and landed on the ball.

That set up sophomore Kilohana Haasenritter’s 14-yard touchdown run. The multi-threat offensive weapon comes from an athletic family.

His dad Charlie Haasenritter and uncle Matt Haasenritter played baseball at UH-Hilo, and his mom Kahea Silva played volleyball there. His aunty Haunani Haasenritter played softball at UH-Hilo, and his uncle Mana Silva played in the NFL as a safety.

Haasenritter also scored on a 69-yard pass from Kaimialoha Like. Still, Haasenritter had to share the spotlight with Mathieu.

As Lyons noted, Mathieu never takes a play off, even when the game is no longer in doubt.

Mathieu worked hard on his ball-stripping technique and had a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter.

He had a full day, but after the game he turned into a fisherman, wondering about the two that got away.

“I don’t think about that when I’m on the field,” he said. “But after the game, I’ll think about the ones that I missed.”

Production jump

Last season, Mathieu wasn’t a full-time starter. He saw spot duty, including time at linebacker.

Besides hard work, one thing that sharpened him was a silver medal at the BIIF wrestling championships at 170 pounds in February.

“Wrestling helped my hand technique,” said Mathieu, who put a few football profiles online and wants to study fire science in college.

Against Waiakea, he did a good job disengaging a blocker’s hands on pass rushes and shedding blocks on run plays.

Mathieu has recorded his 22 sacks against Kauai, Maui, and Waiakea in the preseason and against Keaau, Kealakehe, Hawaii Prep, and Waiakea in BIIF games.

Meat grinder

The Warriors (4-0 BIIF Division II, 6-1) soon face their two toughest opponents. Hilo (3-1 BIIF Division I, 4-1) is next with Konawaena on the on-deck circle. There’s also Honokaa in the regular-season finale.

It’s helpful to have home-field advantage for the BIIF championship. If the Warriors want that, they’ll have to play strong down the stretch, starting with the Vikings on Friday at Paiea Stadium.

“We’ll have to watch film and work hard at practice,” Mathieu said. “The biggest thing for us is shutting down Kahale (Huddleston).

“For our run defense, our D-line has to hold our ground. We can’t have gaps. That’ll make it harder for our linebackers.”

The Warriors will study Konawaena’s game tape, looking for details on how the defense held Huddleston – who has accounted for 19 touchdowns – to 64 yards on 22 carries in a 24-14 win over the Vikings on Friday at Kealakekua.

“The Hilo game is a measuring stick for us,” Lyons said. “It’ll tell us where we’re at and what we need to work on.

“The schedule is perfect for us with Hilo, Konawaena, and Honokaa, and we’re not taking Honokaa lightly. It’s the meat of our schedule. We want to keep getting better and better.”

For much of the season, Mathieu has followed a similar pattern: he also keeps getting better and better.

Best of the rest

Kealakehe at Honokaa, today, 7 p.m.

Two teams going in opposite directions meet as the Dragons and Waveriders (2-4 overall, 2-2 BIIF D-I) clash in Honokaa.

After an 0-4 start, the Waveriders have bounced back with two convincing wins over Keaau and Hawaii Prep. In the two victories, Kealakehe has outscored its opponents 106-6.

Led by Raymond Skillern, a revitalized running game has helped push the Waveriders forward after some rough weeks, and the passing game is slowly gaining steam as well with Kekoa Ilagan-LeBlanc taking the majority of the snaps.

Honokaa (2-3, 1-3 D-II) came out of the gate with a pair of wins over D-I Waiakea, but haven’t been able to get on track since. Losses against BIIF division champs Hilo and Konawaena were not surprises, but a 30-15 loss to a formerly winless Keaau squad was.

It’s as much as a “must win” as there is in late September in the BIIF for the Dragons. With Konawaena and Kamehameha sitting out front with 4-0 league records, a loss would effectively eliminate the Dragons chances at sneaking into the two-team BIIF postseason.

Konawaena at Waiakea, Saturday, 2 p.m.

The Wildcats (4-2, 4-0 D-II) leave West Hawaii for the first time this season, but will do so with a wealth of confidence, coming off a marquee 24-14 victory over Hilo last weekend.

Two-time BIIF offensive player of the year Austin Ewing has found ways to be his productive self, while Chauncey Mariani-Louis has come on strong for the Wildcats as a playmaker.

On defense, Dustin Cho led the way for Konawaena a week ago, tallying 10.5 tackles, while Alex Muti and Paka Cacoulidis each had a pair of sacks.

Konawaena is likely not the team Waiakea (1-6, 0-4 D-I)wants to see riding a six-game losing streak. The Warriors haven’t scored a touchdown in two weeks against stiff competition in Hilo and Kamehameha-Hawaii, but running room will continue to be hard to find against the Wildcats.

Keaau at Hawaii Prep, Saturday, 2 p.m.

The Cougars (1-3, 1-3 D-I) ride into Waimea after finding a spark last week with a new QB last week, knocking off Honokaa and more than doubling their scoring output from the previous three weeks combined.

Hawaii Prep (2-3, 1-3 D-II) continue to struggle to move the ball forward against Kealakehe, with the center-QB exchange out of the shotgun being the main culprit in at least a half-dozen fumbles.

Being back on their home turf for the first time in nearly a month should help Ka Makani find some green on the box score, but the Cougars are hungry to earn their first back-to-back wins since 2011.

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