BIIF football: After slow month, teams raring to go as regular season beckons

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald
    Waiakea practices Thursday in preparation for its BIIF opener Saturday at home against Waiakea.
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald
    First-year Waiakea coach Neil Azevedo oversees practice Thursday.

Finally, it’s here, and not a moment too soon.

The BIIF football regular season kicks off Friday and competition will be a welcome sight for coaches, players and fans alike after a four-week nonleague period marked by inactivity.

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Hurricane Lane was just the final damper, spoiling a handful of practices and canceling the last of an already lean preseason.

“Lane just gave us a little vacation,” Kamehameha coach Dan Lyons said. “We’re well-hydrated and ready to go.”

Everybody is.

Consider that the eight teams in league action this weekend, including eight-man, have combined to play only four games so far. In past seasons, Lyons said, the Warriors would be getting ready for their fourth game at this point. Instead, Kamehameha and Keaau head into their Week 1 matchup with no games under their belt, as does Waiakea, which welcomes Honokaa on Saturday.

The Dragons played Waimea on Aug. 10 but haven’t seen another team since after plans to travel to Molokai were canceled.

“Saying sharp and having no competitions weekly is hard sometimes,” coach Noeau Lindsey said. “It’s hard to keep the team focused. It’s just practice into practice then into more practice.”

It’s a trade-off.

Players should be rested, but will they be rusty?

Team have plenty of fresh bodies, but will those bodies be mentally locked in?

“The layoff has advantages, less tape for opponents to look at but less chances to test your players,” Lindsey said. “Could go either way. “It (can be) good. Heal up injuries and also focus in on execution for Week 1 and lots of conditioning.”

Lyons always sees a glass half full.

“Usually, we’ve played every week, but we’ve been able to teach much more (now),” he said. “We should have a clearer understanding of what we are doing.”

Perhaps no one is more excited to get going than first-year Waiakea coach Neil Azevedo, who still is priming to make his debut. The Warriors had both of their nonleague games canceled, including contests against Kamehameha on consecutive weeks.

“Really, I can’t wait to play,” Azevedo said. “We just want to get on the field and hit somebody else.”

Hilo begins defense of its HHSAA Division I championship against Hawaii Prep on Friday, 27 days after it sole preseason game, a loss at Campbell. The preseason largely went according to plan for coach Kaeo Drummondo, who welcomed the layoff for a Vikings team that is trying to replace a dozen all-BIIF selections. However, he had hoped to get in a few scrimmages, which were subsequently nixed.

“There’s no replacing live reps, but the time between Campbell and HPA helped us to get some younger players up to speed on what we will be asking them to do this season,” Drummondo said. “What we tried to do was set up competitive scrimmage-like situations with ourselves. We try to create game-like situations for the players to have to think through and execute in.”

Competition-wise, Hawaii Prep is ahead of the game so far under first-year coach Albert Cummings. HPA beat King Kekaulike Aug. 11 at home and also took part scrimmage along with Kohala and Seabury Hall. The road gets tougher starting Friday. …

Here’s a look at Week 1.

Hawaii Prep (1-0) at

Hilo (0-1), 7 p.m. Friday

Cummings doesn’t want Ka Makani to be anyone’s pushover, and he’ll get a quick progress report on that front at Wong Stadium.

The teams opened the 2017 BIIF campaign, and the Vikings were able to name the score, jumping out to a 62-point halftime lead.

Playing behind a revamped line, junior Kyan Miyasato is the heir apparent at quarterback for Hilo, which may try to use a measured passing game to make up for the graduation of running back Kahale Huddleston and his 35 touchdowns.

Drummondo will be looking for a different sort of progress report.

“Just looking for the players to go out there on Friday and play fast, compete with relentless effort and have fun,” he said. “I’m looking for this team to show continuous growth week to week and you can only obtain that through competitive live reps. It’s time for this group to build their personality and identity.”

Kamehameha at Keaau,

7:30 p.m. Friday

The teams will compete for the eighth annual Kipimana Cup – established to promote a goodwill bond between the neighbors in the community – and the Warriors have never failed to secure the trophy.

“We kind of have a Keaau brotherhood,” Lyons said.

Keaau’s last preseason game was a handful of seasons ago, but the Cougars got in scrimmages against Kamehameha and Ka’u and hope to make more positive steps forward in Leo Abellera’s third season as coach.

“I think they make great improvements every year,” Lyons said. “We’ve seen them a little bit and they’ve seen us a little bit.”

Both teams will be breaking in new quarterbacks, Kilohana Haasenritter for Kamehameha and Bryant Mercado-Respicio for the Cougars.

Honokaa (1-0) at Waiakea, 1:30 p.m. Saturday

The teams weren’t able to play a nonleague contest Aug. 3, but the Warriors did travel up the Hamakua Coast for a scrimmage and were able to make an impression on Lindsey.

“I remember them being big,” he said. “At least a few of their receivers were bigger than my linebackers. I know they were very fast to the ball on defense and had a strong offensive line.”

Utilizing their offensive line, the Dragons will be happy to test Waiakea’s defense with a running game spearheaded by Klayton Gascon.

‘Tough team,” Azevedo said. ‘They always play hard.”

Eight-man: Pahoa (0-1) at Kohala, 1 p.m.

After three seasons at the bottom of the three-team league, the Daggers handled the Cowboys all three times they met in 2017.

Kohala’s Chad Atkins moves from defensive coordinator to coach intent on establishing a suffocating unit on his favorite side of the ball.

NOTES

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Kealakehe is in Utah for a non-league game against Desert Hills. That game is set to kickoff at 3 p.m. HST and can be live streamed at either youtu.be/rE_2jBnE3Ig or sportsradio977.com.

Konawaena is off this week after having its season-opener against Kealakehe canceled last week due to Hurricane Lane. Konawaena begins its season at Keaau on Sept. 8.