Iolani rolls to season opening win over Kaiser


Fri, Aug 5, 2022 @ Kaiser [ 7:00 pm ]

Final 1 2 3 4 T
Iolani (6-0-0) 21 20 21 062
Kaiser (3-3-0) 0 14 13 027
Easton Yoshino 153 yd 1 TD
CJ Villanueva 140 yd 2 TD
Donovan Reis 122 yd 2 TD
Keao Kawaakoa 100 yd 3 TD
Makana Naleieha 87 yd 2 TD
Nela Taliauli 203 yd 3 TD

Iolani showed off its offensive prowess in a 62-27 blowout of Kaiser in both teams' first game of the season in an nonleague game at Kaiser's Ted Fukushima Athletic Complex.

Kaeo Kawaakoa rushed for 100 yards and three touchdowns on just eight carries, and added a 43 yard touchdown reception for good measure. Nela Taliauli had a game of his own, catching six passes for 203 yards and three scores.

The Raiders jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter advantage on a Kawaakoa 6 yard touchdown run and a 38 yard strike from Micah Hoomanawanui to Taliauli that bookended a 22 yard fumble return by Asher Matsui on a mishandled punt.

A 15 yard connection from Easton Yoshino to Makana Naleieha got the Cougars on the board midway through the second quarter and Naleieha collected a second touchdown on five yard connection with Donovan Reis as halftime neared, but the Raiders equalized with scores of its own to keep the margin at three scores heading into the break.

Reis, who took over at quarterback in the latter stages of the second, did his best to spark a Kaiser rally, breaking off runs of 60 and 18 yards for scores, but Iolani countered yet again with more offense of its own, with Taliauli's second receiving TD of the night coming off a 61 yard strike from Hoomanawanui, and a one yard plunge by Daniel Asada.

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Later in the third, Taliauli broke free for another long scoring pass play to account for his final score of the night, this one from freshman signal caller CJ Villanueva, and Kawaakoa capped off the night with a score from seven yards out, with Allison Chang's eighth point after touchdown invoking the mercy rule.

Kawaakoa, continues the recent trend of workhorse running backs donning the number one jersey for the Raiders. His predecessor Brody Bantolina, rushed for nearly 1300 yards and 24 rushing scores in 2021, en route to an All-Hawaii selection as Division I offensive player of the year. Brock Hedani wore the number one in 2019 and racked up 19 total touchdowns, and Kaua Nisihigaya before him put up a 1000 yard season with 16 scores on the ground in 2018.

As for Taliauli, his performance was a breakout of sorts, though the wideout did amass 21 receptions and seven scores last season. His best outing in 2021 was a six catch, 66 yard night with one TD against Saint Louis II.

Despite the rout, Kaiser has plenty to look forward to. The emergence of Keegan Lime (six catches for 106 yards) and Naleieha (10 catches for  87 yards and two TDs) along with Reis, who brought in a different dimension at the quarterback for the Cougars' offense with his legs, should equate to options galore going forward.

Both teams play another nonleague contest before heading into divisional play, with Kaiser hosting McKinley on Aug. 19, and Iolani taking a bye week before facing off with Castle on the road on Aug. 26.

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