Kahale Huddleston was as hot as the afternoon sun at Kozuki Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Huddleston accounted for 454 all-purpose yards and six total touchdowns to lead Hilo to a 62-35 non-league win over host Iolani in the season opener for both teams.
The Vikings (1-0) amassed 440 yards of total offense and capped seven of their 11 offensive possessions with touchdowns. They took a quick 20-0 lead midway through the first quarter and led by as many as 41 late in the third.
"It definitely feels good, but it feels good for us to come out here and execute; That's what feels good," Hilo coach Kaeo Drummundo said. "The work that they put in the spring and the summer showed up on the field today; That's what feels good."
Huddleston, a senior running back, carried the ball 13 times for 243 yards. He scored on runs of 26, 79, 68 and 31 yards.
"Really, it's what we expect out of him week-in and week-out and I'm not surprised by it, honestly," Drummundo said. "I mean, the kid is a playmaker and we're going to be leaning on him all season so it's on us to make sure we don't overuse him and he can stay healthy for the long run."
Huddleston's first two TD runs were sandwiched around a defensive score for the Vikings.
He powered his way through several would-be tacklers for a 26-yard TD run on Hilo's third play from scrimmage to open the scoring. After linebacker Isaac Liu's 30-yard pick-6 on Iolani's next play, Huddleston scored just two plays into Hilo's next drive. He sidestepped a linebacker just beyond the line of scrimmage then turned on the jets to outrace the rest of the Raiders' defense en route to the 79-yard TD run.
Huddleston credited his offensive line for paving the way, as the Vikings rumbled for 333 yards via the ground game.
"The line helped me a lot to push through. They opened up the holes for me to get the runs that I needed, so they helped me out big time," Huddleston said.
Hilo suited up just 32 players Saturday, which Drummundo said played a factor in game planning for the Raiders.
"Coming into this year, especially with this game and our numbers, we knew we'd have to lean on the offensive line. We knew we'd have to lean on (Huddleston) as much as we could, but not ask him to do too much," Drummundo said.
Quarterback Kaleo Apao threw a 28-yard scoring strike to Guyson Ogata late in the first quarter and ran in a touchdown from three yards out just before halftime to cap a 16-play, 85-yard drive to send the Vikings into the intermission with a 34-7 lead.
The teams exchanged scores at a rapid pace in the third quarter. Huddleston had kickoff returns of 99 and 97 yards for touchdowns in less than a minute of game time. He went untouched on a 68-yard TD run midway through the third quarter to stretch Hilo's lead to 55-21.
Four plays after an interception by Kahiau Walker, Huddleston found the end zone on a 31-yard run on fourth-and-2 for his sixth trip to pay dirt. That made it a 61-21 lead for the Vikings after three quarters.
"We worked hard for the whole summer, throughout the whole spring and everything with conditioning, so we just wanted to work hard and try and win this game," said Huddleston, who ran for 216 yards and two TDs in a loss to Leilehua in the first round of last year's D1 state tournament.
Hilo allowed 382 yards to the Raiders, but 252 of those came after halftime.
Iolani quarterback Tai-John Mizutani was pestered by the Vikings' defense all afternoon. He completed 17 of his 34 pass attempts for 258 yards with three TDs, but was also intercepted three times and sacked thrice.
"Coming into the game, we knew that Mizutani was a very, very good pocket passer. Watching it on film, it scared us, so you have to respect him in that sense," Drummundo said. "Our plan coming in was to try and flush him out, make him uncomfortable, get him moving and throwing. For the most part, in the beginning the game plan was OK, then we had some breakdowns, which is not necessarily a bad thing — it's things that we can see on film and hopefully watch and correct."
Two of Mizutani's TD passes were to Justin Genovia, who finished with a game-high 10 receptions for 101 yards. Carter Kamana also caught an 80-yard TD pass from Mizutani, who added a 14-yard TD run in the second half.
Kyler Mento closed out the scoring with his 39-yard scoop-and-score in the final minutes.
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