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Prep Football Preview Special
Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveNovember 23, 2021, 10:53pm
Kalaheo football • #3
Isaiah Akiu has done a little bit of everything for the Kalaheo football team over the years.
Akiu, a 6-foot, 165-pound senior and third-year varsity player, fills many roles for the Mustangs, who picked up their first win since 2018 with their 34-22 win over McKinley Saturday night. He largely factored into the final result with three touchdowns on offense in addition to a fumble recovery on the defensive side of the ball.
Akiu, a receiver and linebacker, recorded six receptions for 85 yards. He was on the receiving end of all three of quarterback Riis Weber's touchdown passes.
"He made some nice runs off of pass plays — in the seam, on screen plays just kind of weaving his way through the defense and bouncing off of tacklers — just he keeps on chugging along," Kalaheo coach Nelson Maeda said of Akiu.
But that's only half — err, a third of Akiu's work load
"Then when we have a change of series, he stays right on the field and plays solid defense; special teams comes around and he stays on the field," Maeda added. "We have several guys like Isaiah, who stay on the field on offense, defense and special teams."
Maeda noted that Akiu previously was a quarterback in prior seasons, but has transitioned nicely to the receiver position.
"He has a nice arm, but this year we have Riis Weber and (Weber) wanted to play quarterback — and he was a wide receiver/(defensive back) before and so those guys basically switched positions, so Isaiah definitely has a lot of athletic ability; He's one of our guys that we try to get as many touches in a game as we can with," Maeda said.
Akiu's versatility — and athleticism — allows for him to seamlessly move between slotback and wide receiver on offense and linebacker and defensive back on defense.
"He's like a hybrid player because we're so limited in numbers," Maeda said. "Right now he's playing linebacker, but the game before he was playing DB. Sometimes he's an outside linebacker, sometimes he's a free safety, but right now he's like a rover; we call him a ‘monster.' He's also our punter. He has a lot of athletic ability," Maeda added.
As steady of a presence Akiu is on defense, his play on offense has come on strong lately. In Kalaheo's last three games — against Kaimuki, Waialua and McKinley — Akiu has caught 19 passes for 277 yards and four touchdowns.
"He seemed to have settled in as a receiver — because he's moved in and out — but he had several nice plays, not only on offense, but on defense as well: filling the run game and defending the pass," Maeda detailed. "Without him we would be in a bind, as this past McKinley game we only had twenty-three players, so if he's not in there, we're down two players: one on offense and one on defense, so he's one of our important guys in there."
Akiu's first touchdown reception was for 20 yards and gave Kalaheo a two-touchdown lead at 14-0 about one minute into the second quarter. Akiu hauled in his second score on a 7-yard pass from Weber with just 16.7 seconds left in the first half and the Mustangs took a 28-6 lead into the intermission. About midway through the third quarter, the duo connected for a third scoring strike — a 15-yarder that stretched it to a 34-6 cushion.
"That game Riis and Isaiah did a wonderful job of hooking up on several big plays for us. Isaiah is tall so Riis is able to get him the ball and he tries to use his athletic ability to beat out the defender," Maeda said.
Akiu is one of only six seniors on the Kalaheo roster, which only further underlies his importance to the team.
"We have nine upperclassmen — juniors and seniors — and of those only three or four of them have football experience, so Isaiah, with his background playing on varsity since the ninth grade, he brings that football savvy and experience for us and he's in a leadership position for us," said Maeda, who pointed out that Akiu was voted as one of four captains by his teammates.
"He's well-respected among his peers and to the coaching staff, he embodies the type of athlete you want," Maeda expressed. "He's very coachable, he's always ‘yes, coach,' or ‘no, coach,' he would play any position that he thinks is best for the team so he sacrifices. He would say, ‘Wherever you need me, put me there.' He's a great kid, never gets in trouble, always keeps his nose clean and is a silent leader who leads by example."
Maeda, a longtime former coach at Castle, drew a comparison one of his old players with the Knights in class of 2010 graduate Shaydon Kehano, who earned all-state first team honors as a senior before he went on to twice earn all-conference honors as a wide receiver at Weber State University.
"He was a heck of a receiver," Maeda recalled. "He was our offensive MVP for our division his junior and senior year and like Isaiah, Shaydon never came off the field. I think Shaydon had a better skillset in terms of being elusive with the ball, but Isaiah is much the same in terms of he's our go-to guy. In the open field he does a nice job. I think Shaydon has more speed than Isaiah, but I think Isaiah just makes up for it with his grit and determination."
In addition to his multiple roles with the football team, Akiu is also a member of both the boys basketball and baseball teams.
"Kalaheo is a basketball school. We would love to have some basketball players out (for football), but most of them want to focus on basketball only," Maeda said. "Isaiah is one of a few who go to that old school mentality of being a multi-sport athlete with football, basketball and baseball."
The Mustangs' win over McKinley Saturday snapped a 15-game losing streak that dated back to Oct. 13, 2018, but Maeda explained the it was the week prior — when his team fell short at Waialua, 21-15 — that generated some confidence amongst his players going forward.
"Yeah, I think so. That's the first time I saw a spark in them and for them to travel all the way to Waialua and have that energy, it was the first time I saw the team come together as a team," Maeda said. "They had some success on the field and you could feel their energy and I think they realized that if they work together good things can happen and I think they saw the light at the end of the tunnel, or what it can be and that kind of started the process and then we were able to build upon that for the McKinley game, so that was a good sign."
Despite the final result, the six-point loss at the hands of the Bulldogs was in stark contrast to the Mustangs' first four games, when they lost each by an average of more than 37 points.
"We weren't even able to sustain drives before," Maeda said. "The McKinley game our opening drive we didn't score, but it was very encouraging because we could move the ball and McKinley is no slouch. They've got some athletes and some big boys, so we were pretty ecstatic about that."
The 12-point win over the Tigers represented the first win for Maeda since he took over the program just before COVID hit back in March of last year and while the Mustangs (1-5) have long been eliminated from postseason contention, the victory was a monumental one, to be sure.
"I think it really has built some momentum for the team. Regardless of how we do the last two games, I think it provides a spark for the underclassmen to keep on moving forward because we're trying to build on the foundation that we have," said Maeda, who succeeded Darrell Poole as Kalaheo coach.
"Coach Poole did a wonderful job, he built a foundation and moved on and then COVID hit and put a damper on everything, but this one win was great and I think it kind of put into perspective for the team what can happen if they work hard and if we get more bodies out and training for next season," Maeda said.
Kalaheo will visit Radford (5-1) Saturday before it hosts Kalani (3-2) at Kailua's Alex Kane Stadium on Dec. 4 to close out the season.
"We're hoping that we can send off this small group of seniors on a positive note," Maeda said. "We talked about how we can hopefully build off the McKinley win and get a nice performance win, lose or draw against Radford and Kalani and it will be a very tough task because they are two very good teams, but hopefully the twenty-two or twenty-three (players) that we have can find a little bit extra to make it competitive, hopefully to give the seniors some good memories for them on their Kalaheo football experience."
Kamehameha volleyball • #2 OH/Opp Senior
Devin Kahahawai stands out, just a wee bit, on the volleyball court.
Or anywhere else for that matter.
Kahahawai, a senior outside hitter for the Kamehameha girls volleyball team, is head and shoulders above most other high school players. Quite literally. At 6 feet, 3 inches tall, just about every one of her teammates looks up to Kahahawai, but certainly not solely because of her physical stature.
"She's a very dynamic offensive weapon, who has great all-around skills," longtime Kamehameha coach Chris Blake said of the three-year starter and four-year varsity player.
Kahahawai was a freshman on the Warriors' state runner-up team in 2018, but she did not play in the championship match against Iolani. The following year she put down 15 kills with seven digs and two solo blocks in a four-set win over Punahou in the Division I state final and was one of five Kamehameha players selected to the all-tournament team.
"The thing that she brings is the knowledge of knowing that she's been there before," said Blake, whose team has played most of the year without either Kahahawai, who helped Team USA to a bronze medal at the U18 World Championships in Mexico in late September, or fellow All-Hawaii outside hitter Maui Robins, who was sidelined by an ankle injury for most of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu season.
In her regular-season debut on Oct. 6, Kahahawai posted 28 kills to lead the Warriors to a four-set win over visiting Iolani. A few weeks later she racked up 33 kills in a thrilling five-set victory over Punahou, while Robins continued to mend.
"We've asked (Kahahawai) to carry a pretty heavy load right off the bat. Some of it was out of necessity with some other players on our team not being one-hundred percent healthy, but she's always done the things we've asked her to do and done it to the best of her ability," Blake said.
Kahahawai committed to the University of Texas back in September and signed her National Letter of Intent with the Longhorns earlier this month. The whirlwind of events have finally let up and allowed Kahahawai to just play volleyball again.
"She was gone for our first, I would say, almost third to half to our season and between her figuring out what she was gonna do to take care of her next step, finally landing on Texas and then being away with the youth National Team, which came in third in the World Championships, getting her back into the gym was great," Blake said.
He said that the experience Kahahawai gained representing the U.S. on the international stage has been beneficial for her and the rest of the team.
"I think she could see what the challenges were at the international level. She played against some really top level competition and finding ways to be able to bring those experiences back were key," Blake said. "She came back doing some different things, which were helpful for us and then incorporating those things into our scheme is important."
As far as Kahahawai's choice of college, Blake thinks it's a perfect pairing. She will be the third player for the Longhorns from the 50th state, when she joins setters Jhenna Gabriel (Maryknoll '18) and Saige Kaahaaina-Torres (Iolani '18) on next year's team.
"I think it's the environment — with two Hawaii kids who are there right now — I think it's their level of play that is expected out of there and Austin is a beautiful place," said Blake, whose sister resides there.
"It's a beautiful place, beautiful campus and I think all of those things with the high level of volleyball, allowed her to go and make that choice because I know she's a competitor and I think that kind of competition she relishes and that challenge is, I think, what will allow her to be super successful," he said.
While there have been no shortage of outside hitters from the state of Hawaii who have gone on to succeed at the Division I collegiate level over the years, almost none of them have the length that Kahahawai does.
"She contacts the ball at such a high height, so she's hitting the ball at angles that you typically don't see and I think she has a long way — I mean, she hasn't reached her peak yet as far as where she is with it," Blake said.
While her ability on offense draws a ton of attention, Kahahawai's defensive prowess can tend to go relatively unnoticed in comparison.
"I think some things that get overlooked with her are her ball control — her serve-receive is quite good — and she's been playing at a high level, so she's had a lot of opportunity to learn from some really good coaches, so we're really blessed to have her in our program for as long as we did and for her to be a senior contributing to the team this year," Blake said.
Kahahawai, an All-Hawaii second team pick in 2019, came through with another clutch performance last Tuesday, when the Warriors swept third-ranked Iolani. She had a match-high 24 kills to go along with eight digs, two assists and a block assist.
"She brought a really good game and she was definitely dialed in. From our pregame work, you could tell there was a determination, I think and she was able to lead by example for her and our team to play the game that we did to defeat a really, really tough Iolani team in three is a big deal for us — that was the first time we swept them — so they played really well."
By the end of the first set, Kahahawai had already recorded 10 kills on 17 swings. She had six more in set 2 and another eight in set 3. Kahahawai committed eight attack errors on 49 total swings for a .326 hitting percentage.
"Offensively she's a force we've asked her to do a lot — we move her around in the front row to find our best matchup and also to put pressure on the other team — and she excels wherever she's at," Blake said, "but again, I think the thing that she did really well was her overall serve-receive and defense in that match was really good, so she definitely had a great all-around game for us, some of which show up in the stats and some doesn't."
Blake said some of what isn't reflected in the numbers are the intangibles that Kahahawai brings as a seasoned veteran and leader.
"The confidence that she has in terms of her play, but also beginning to have that confidence begin to permeate throughout our match," he said.
He explained that Kahahawai provided the pregame "saying of the day" that is customary for the Warriors prior to a match.
"For that Iolani match it was her day," Blake reflected. "She brought about her experienced and we talked about dominating, to have that mindset that no matter what the situation, to give your all and to put forth that kind of effort. She talked about it in the beginning of the match with all the justification why and she was able to back it up with her play and I think that's the kind of thing that helps to show — she may not be one of our team captains — but she's definitely one of our leaders in terms of effort and execution on the court."
The win over the Raiders put Kamehameha into Saturday's ILH second round final against top-ranked Punahou, but it lost to the Buffanblu in four sets despite a match-high 19 kills from Kahahawai. Still, the Warriors locked up a trip to the state tournament as the league's second representative.
"Hats off to Punahou, they're super disciplined, they played a great match and they put us into spots that we have to be better at and we have to find ways for us to have that confidence in our play and that trust in our process. I think Devin's been through it before; as a freshman we came up short, as a sophomore she was a a key instrumental piece of beating Punahou," Blake said.
He added, "We've always been fortunate enough to be able to compete and be in this kind of position and it's not easy, but how we respond to these challenges, I think, is gonna be the way that the season will be remembered and I think that Devin and the other seniors who have been there before, we're looking for that guidance from them in taking that next step and the next time we step on that court on Dec. 6th, we'll see how much better we got."
Kahahawai and the Warriors (8-5) are ranked second in the ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Power Rankings and have not dropped consecutive matches all year, which began back in the summer.
"I think this has been a challenging year due to its length, however, we have the utmost trust in our senior leadership and captains to be able to guide our team over the next couple of weeks in preparation for states becase as the defending state champions we understand what we have to do," Blake said. "It's gonna be a tough road, however, the belief and trust we have in each other as a team is gonna be key in how well we do when the tournament starts."
The New City Nissan/HHSAA Girls Volleyball Division I State Championships get underway on Dec. 6 and concludes on Dec. 11.
Hunter Acia, Kealakehe — Made 12 tackles and caught a 49-yard touchdown pass in a loss to Konawaena
Keahi Ah Sui, Nanakuli — Threw for 359 yards and five touchdowns on 22-of-48 passing with two interceptions and ran 12 times for 78 yards in a loss to Kaiser
Hopo Aholelei, Kaiser — Had two sacks in a win over Nanakuli
Keoki Alani, Konawaena — Threw for 340 yards and four touchdowns on 34-of-54 passing with one interception in a win over Kealakehe
Gabriel Araki, Leilehua — Had three tackles for losses, including two sacks in a win over Farrington
Brody Bantolina, Iolani — Ran for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries in a win over Roosevelt
Tye Barbour, Mililani — Scored on a 34-yard interception return in a win over Campbell
Blazen Benz, Waialua — Threw two touchdowns passes and ran for 103 yards and another score on 12 carries in a loss to Radford
Kai Blackston, Kaiser — Ran for 109 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in a win over Nanakuli
Rusty Bolosan, Castle — Recovered two fumbles in a win over Waipahu
Jett Cabal, Leilehua — Ran for 103 yards on 17 carries in a win over Farrington
Daunte Ching, Castle — Threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-34 passing without an interception and ran seven times for 30 yards in a win over Waipahu
Dominick Espinda, Campbell — Caught six passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Mililani
Sefo Feesago, Pearl City — Threw for 186 yards and two touchdowns on 19-of-28 passing with one interception and ran five times for 37 yards and another score in a win over Kaimuki
Kelsun Feleti, Waianae — Had 5 1/2 tackles, including three tackles for losses and two sacks, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble in a win over Kapolei
Joshua Gleason, Pearl City — Caught five passes for 103 yards and a touchdown in a win over Kaimuki
Michael Hayslett, Radford — Ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns on four carries, caught two passes for 22 yards and made four tackles in a win over Waialua
Gavin Hunter, Mililani — Caught a touchdown pass and recorded an interception in a win over Campbell
Kimo Ibanez Jr., Hilo — Threw for 189 yards and three touchdowns on 10-of-12 passing without an interception and ran for another score in a win over Keaau
Kawelu Kaiawe, Konawaena — Ran for 158 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in a win over Kealakehe
Makana Kamaka-Brayce, Kamehameha-Maui — Threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns on 16-of-21 passing with one interception and ran for touchdown in a win over Baldwin
Justin Kanekoa, Kaiser — Caught eight passes for 105 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Nanakuli
Hoai Keeno, Kalaheo — Recorded four sacks and forced a fumble in a win over McKinley
Will Kulihaapai-Alovao, Kapolei — Made 6 1/2 tackles, including four for losses and one sack in a loss to Waianae
Joseph Lewis IV, Nanakuli — Caught eight passes for 137 yards and four touchdowns and had one rush for 34 yards in a loss to Kaiser
Allen Mahoe III, Nanakuli — Caught three passes for 106 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Kaiser
Kamakana Mahiko, Kaiser — Caught 10 passes for 116 yards in a win over Nanakuli
Kamaehu Makanui, Konawaena — Caught 14 passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Kealakehe
Joshua Manu, Waipahu — Threw for 187 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-35 passing without an interception in a loss to Castle
Aiden Manutai, Mililani — Recorded two interceptions and returned one 47 yards for a touchdown in a win over Campbell
Keao Miyahira, Iolani — Caught three passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 82 yards and another score on three carries in a win over Roosevelt
Mark Moreno, Pearl City — Scored on a 35-yard interception return in a win over Kaimuki
Christian Payton, Radford — Ran for 146 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries in a win over Waialua
Donovan Reis, Kaiser — Caught a touchdown pass and recorded an interception in a win over Nanakuli
Roo Satta Ellis, Konawaena — Caught 10 passes for 182 yards and made 4 1/2 tackles in a win over Konawaena
Hoohenomauloa Stone-Han, Kamehameha-Maui — Ran for 101 yards on 20 carries in a win over Baldwin
Coby Tanioka, Castle — Caught four passes for 146 yards and a touchdown in a win over Waipahu
Emana Tarape, Campbell — Threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-22 passing without an interception in a win over Campbell
Toa Tevaga, Kalaheo — Recovered two fumbles in a win over McKinley
Kalob Victorino-Avilla, Radford — Threw for 253 yards and three touchdowns on 20-of-27 passing with one interception in a win over Waialua
Riis Weber, Kalaheo — Threw for 196 yards and three touchdowns on 18-of-27 passing without an interception and ran for 104 yards and two scores on 16 carries in a win over McKinley
Easton Yoshino, Kaiser — Threw for 321 yards and four touchdowns on 25-of-43 passing with one interception in a win over Nanakuli
Milan Ah Yat, University Lab — Had 10 kills, one ace and a block assist in a three-set win over Maryknoll and had 14 kills, 18 digs, three aces and three assists in a four-set win over Le Jardin
Adrianna Arquette, Kamehameha — Had 10 kills, three block assists and a solo block in a four-set loss to Punahou
Anae Asuncion, Mililani — Had 22 assists, five digs and an ace in a three-set win over Waianae and had 33 assists, eight digs, five aces and one kill in a three-set win over Leilehua
Pii Carvalho, University Lab — Had 13 kills, 12 digs and two block assists in a four-set win over Le Jardin
Nicanora Clarke, Waianae — Had 14 kills, six aces, one solo block and a block assist in a three-set win over Nanakuli
Maya Izumi, University Lab — Had 25 digs and five assists in a four-set win over Le Jardin
Grace Fiaseu, Punahou — Had 12 kills, two solo blocks and a block assist in a four-set win over Kamehameha
Jenna Hickman, Pearl City — Had 11 kills, six aces and one block assist in a four-set loss to Nanakuli
Hailey Kauweloa, Nanakuli — Had 20 assists, 14 kills, 10 digs and three aces in a four-set win over Pearl City and had nine kills, 10 digs, six assists, two aces and a block assist in a three-set loss to Waianae
Sierra Long, Pearl City — Had 23 kills in a four-set loss to Nanakuli
Melene Matautia, Nanakuli — Had 17 kills, 16 assists, 13 digs, two block assists and one ace in a four-set win over Pearl City
Jaclyn Matias, Punahou — Had 44 assists, three kills and a solo block in a four-set win over Kamehameha
Aubire Molina, Pearl City — Had 38 assists, one block assist and an ace in a four-set loss to Nanakuli
Kaela Montgomery, Lanai — Had 11 kills in a three-set win over Maui Prep
LC Nakagawa, Mililani — Had 18 digs and four aces in a three-set win over Waianae
Payton Oliveira, Kamehameha — Had 12 digs in a three-set win over Ioalni
Tessa Onaga, Iolani — Had 15 digs in a three-set loss to Kamehameha
Katrina Olter, Lanai — Had 10 kills in a three-set win over Maui Prep
Senna Roberts-Navarro, Iolani — Had eight kills and 10 digs in a three-set loss to Kamehameha
Maui Robins, Kamehameha — Had 16 kills, 13 digs, two block assists and one ace in a three-set win over Iolani
Alexis Rodriguez, Mililani — Had 10 kills, three digs and an ace in a three-set win over Leilehua
Paige Suyat Santos, Lanai — Had 15 assists in a three-set win over Maui Prep
Haiti Tautuaa, Waianae — Had 16 assists, four kills and two aces in a three-set win over Nanakuli
Makena Tong, University Lab — Had 10 kills, 17 digs, 40 asissts and two block assists in a four-set win over Le Jardin
Mokihana Tufono, Iolani — Had eight kills, 10 digs, seven assists and three aces in a three-set loss to Kamehameha
Lulu Uluave, Punahou — Had 11 kills and a block assist in a four-set win over Kamehameha
Lucky-Rose Williams, Punahou — Had 14 kills and three block assists in a four-set win over Kamehameha
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