OIA Football
Kalaheo tramples McKinley to end losing streak


Sat, Nov 20, 2021 @ Kailua [ 6:00 pm ]

Final 1 2 3 4 T
MCK(0-8-0) 0 6 8 822
KHEO(1-7-0) 7 21 6 034
Riis Weber 196 yd 3 TD
Dustin Chow 188 yd 1 TD
Riis Weber 104 yd 2 TD
Elias Bermudes 48 yd 1 TD
Isaiah Akiu 85 yd 3 TD
Michael Papa 83 yd 1 TD

KAILUA—The streak is finally over.

Riis Weber accounted for five total touchdowns to lead Kalaheo past McKinley, 34-22, in an Oahu Interscholastic Association Division II contest on Homecoming night at Kailua's Alex Kane Stadium Saturday.

Weber threw for 196 yards on 18-of-27 passing, three touchdowns—all going to Isaiah Akiu, and rushed for 104 yards and pair of scores to help the Mustangs (1-5) end a 15-game losing streak and pick up their first win since October 13, 2018 when it beat Kalani, 22-7. Kalaheo went 0-10 overall in 2019 and there was no season in 2020. 

"That was on my mind," Weber said of the skid. "It was a tough, fought game. It was a big team effort. It's been a long time since we got a win and it feels really good. It's a testament to all the hard work and the players before us, they all laid it out for us and we took it home."

"The losing streak was a very heavy burden to wear. Although their spirits were good and they're resilient, there's nothing like a win to get their motivation back on track. Week after week, we were getting pounded early on in the season. This is a team with four seniors, nine overall upper classmen and six guys with football experience. So it's terrific we were able to get a win over a tough McKinley team," first-year Kalaheo coach Nelson Maeda said.

Maeda, who spent 20 years as Castle's head coach, picked up his first win as Kalaheo's coach after taking over for Darrell Poole.

"It's a wonderful day for Kalaheo football. This win, despite of all the obstacles we faced, it feels like we made the playoffs. We're so young and it feels wonderful. If I have to compare it, this is like a playoff-win for us," Maeda said.

The Tigers, who were seeking their first win since Sept. 7, 2019 when it beat Kalaheo, 6-3, dropped their fifth-straight game this season to fall to 0-5 and lost their 10th-straight game dating back to Sept. 14, 2019.

After Akiu recovered the fumble and a dead ball personal foul on McKinley, Weber rushed for a 24-yard touchdown for 7-0 lead with just over 24 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

"Riis is a central point and the quarterback controls what we do. Unfortunately with our low numbers, he's forced to play defensive back as well. He's a great athlete for us and we hope he continues to improve," Maeda said.

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Toa Tevaga recovered the fumble on the kickoff as it hit a Tiger player. Weber converted a fourth-and-1 with a 21-yard pass to Akiu and on the next play connected for a 20-yard touchdown for a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.

"We're finally seeing some success and execution. It was a trying season for the first several games, we were getting three downs and out. I think they're more comfortable with what we're doing. We're trying to keep it simple, but Riis does a wonderful job running the offense because it's based the reads in the run and pass game. It's great to know we're going in the right direction," Maeda said.

McKinley converted a third down with a 20-yard pass from Dustin Chow to Michael Papa and got two more passing first downs and a roughing the passer penalty to set up Papa's 11-yard score from Chow, but the kick failed as the Tigers trailed, 14-6.

Papa, who leads the team in receiving and scoring, finished with seven catches for 83 yards.

"We wanted to prevent and keep number 13 (Michael Papa) under control since he's their best player and they only scored 22 points," Weber said.

"We had a nice plan, but their quarterback (Chow) is a good one and number 13 (Papa), they have some top-notch receivers. Upfront, they're big. Kale (Ane) and McKinley are in a same boat as us. We're trying to build from a foundation and I know in a couple years, McKinley will be a force to reckon with and Kale is doing wonderful job and will continue to do so," Maeda said of McKinley.

The Mustangs needed two plays to find the end zone as Weber rushed for a 55-yard touchdown with 2:45 to go in the second quarter.

"The coaches did a great job and we practiced really hard and it paid off with all the hard work," Weber said, who also lined up at defensive back and safety on defense.

Tevaga recovered another fumble on the kickoff at the McKinley 48 and Weber found Vinny Bandini, who finished with nine catches for 87 yards for a 24-yard gain. Damian Ruano rushed for 10 yards and Bandini got down to the 5. Following a pass interference penalty and a false start, Weber hit Akiu for a 7-yard score with 16.7 seconds left for a commanding, 28-6 lead going into halftime.

"They're very important cogs to our team. Them like Riis, never come off the field. We have eight or nine guys that go both ways. Isaiah being a senior, he has football experience. Vinny never played football before and as a sophomore, he's doing a wonderful job for us. They're athletic people Riis can get the ball to," Maeda said of Bandini and Akiu.

After McKinley went three-and-out, Kalaheo responded with a eight play, 54-yard scoring drive that resulted in Akiu's final touchdown and sixth catch to finish with 85 receiving yards, but the kick was blocked to make it, 34-6.

Elias Bermudes rushed for 48 yards on 12 attempts and scored on a 4-yard run and Chow completed a two-point pass to Papa to trail, 34-14.

Chow had minus-20 rushing yards but added a 1-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter and converted a two-point conversion pass to Bermudes for the final score of the night.

Hoai Keeno had four sacks and Elijah Taylor added two more in a stout defensive effort for the Mustangs.

Kalaheo hopes to continue its winning ways as it visits Radford (5-1) on Saturday, Nov. 27. McKinley hopes it can pick up its first win as it hosts Kaimuki (1-4) at Roosevelt on the same night.

"I think it does. It demonstrates that if they work hard and do things right and play as a team, that success can happen. It took us six games to get to this point. We play a tough Radford team that's loaded with talent next week. It will help in practice, knowing that if they keep working hard, it can be successful no matter what the challenges are," Maeda said.

Reach Brandon Ching at [email protected].

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