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Chalk Talk with Paps: Kanehailua cousins meet in Kamehameha-Nanakuli clash

Updated: 
November 7, 2014 - 12:05am

WHAT: HHSAA Division II Football State Championships, first round

WHO: Nanakuli Golden Hawks (10-0, OIA champion) vs. Kamehameha-Hawaii Warriors (7-2, BIIF champion)

WHEN: Saturday, 3 p.m.

WHERE: Paiea Stadium, Kamehameha-Hawaii

STATE TOURNAMENT HISTORY: KS-Hawaii: Fourth tournament appearance (2005, ’06, ’10); Nanakuli: second tournament appearance (2013)

Kamehameha-Hawaii captured its first Big Island Interscholastic Federation title since 2010 with a 35-13 landslide win over three-time defending champion Konawaena.

The victory earned the Warriors a home game against undefeated Nanakuli, who beat Pearl City 37-36 in overtime for the Oahu Interscholastic Association championship.

Saturday’s winner will travel to Maui and face top-seeded Lahainaluna at 6 p.m. Nov. 15. The game will be played at War Memorial Stadium.

Hawaii Prep has the BIIF’s only two wins at the state level (2004 vs. Waipahu, and ’09 vs. Moanalua). While the Golden Hawks of Nanakuli are flying high, the Warriors are hoping the arm of senior quarterback Micah Kanehailua can propel them to new heights.

PAPALII’S POINTS

Clash of the Kanehailuas

Micah Kanehailua has been the catalyst for the Kamehameha offense, passing for more than 1,600 yards and 21 touchdowns. He also has five rushing scores.

Kale Kanehailua — Micah’s cousin — has played a similar role for Nanakuli. The Golden Hawks’ dual-threat QB has accounted for 1,825 total yards (1,462 passing, 363 rushing) and 24 total touchdowns (14 passing, 10 rushing).

In wet conditions, Micah Kanehailua passed for a season-low 59 yards against Konawaena in the title game, but did not make any mistakes. The Warriors’ Kanehailua has a 10-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his last five games.

With three years of starting experience, Micah Kanehailua needs to stay poised and step up in what will be the biggest game of his high school career. The line will have to give him time to connect with reliable targets Alapaki Iaea (24 catches for 306 yards and nine touchdowns) and Bayley Manliguis (39 catches, 513 yards and five touchdowns).

Kale Kanehailua has thrown just four interceptions this season.

Surging running games

While Kamehameha started the year heavily skewed to the pass, the emergence of Kaeo Batacan has eased the pressure on the passing game. The junior back has rushed for over 100 yards in three of the last four games and has found the end zone at least once in each of those contests.

In the title game, Grant Shiroma contributed a season-high 10 carries for 44 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown.

If Kamehameha can find success moving the ball on the ground, Kanehailua can work with more efficiency through the air.

Defensive lineman Pono Davis, along with sophomores Kamakana Pagan, Wayne Dacalio and ball-hawking senior linebacker Isaiah Tauati have played big roles for a Kamehameha defense that is allowing just 18.4 points per game.

The Warriors slowed down a potent Konawaena attack twice this season — allowing 19 total points in two games — and face

another offense with a bevy of playmakers.

Nanakuli has a balanced attack, passing for an average of 177.9 per game and rushing for 192.3.

Makaila Haina-Horswill is the workhorse back for Nanakuli. He has 14 touchdowns and 1,284 yards on 140 carries — a whopping 9.2 yards-per-carry average.

Playing until the final whistle

Nanakuli enters with an undefeated record, but the path to the program’s first league title since 1983 was not easy.

The Golden Hawks had five games that were decided by seven points or less, a testament to the challenge of playing in the OIA.

Kamehameha hit a bump in its championship campaign with two losses in four weeks to Hilo and HPA, but got back on track to close out the season. The Warriors won their final four games by an average of more than 32 points.

The Warriors will have to adjust quickly to the pace of play the Hawks are used to. Nanakuli is a team that has found a way to win, and has dealt with adversity very well. Kamehameha will have to leave everything on the field for all four quarters to record a rare win for the BIIF on the state stage.

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