Top Performers
Anahu-Ambrosio's contributions have been plentiful for BIIF-champion Wildcats




Zedekiah Anahu-Ambrosio

Konawaena football  •   #7    

In the short time that Zedekiah Anahu-Ambrosio has been with the Konawaena football team, the Utah-transfer has made quite the impact. 

Anahu-Ambrosio, who goes by the nickname Zed, has factored into a staggering 25 touchdowns for the Wildcats this season. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound sophomore has stood out wherever he has lined up on the gridiron, whether it be at wide receiver, safety or any of his wide array of duties on special teams. 

"He's just an all-around athlete," Konawaena coach Brad Uemoto said of Anahu-Ambrosio, who recorded 12 receptions for 149 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday's nail-biting 27-24 win over Aiea in the semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division I State Championships. 

Anahu-Ambrosio caught touchdowns passes of 45 and 7 yards from quarterback Keoki Alani, who threw for 219 yards on 21-of-38 passing. The Wildcats posted 379 yards of total offense and rallied from a 17-7 second-quarter deficit with Nakoa Ige's game-winning field goal from 20 yards out as time expired. 

"The atmosphere of the game was amazing. It was one of the best crowd we had in a very long time, dating back to our 2017 game against Waipahu at home," recalled Uemoto, whose team will face-off against the Marauders, ironically enough, with a state championship on the line this Saturday. 

A capacity crowd at the Wildcats' Julian R. Yates Field saw the home team outlast Aiea, the runner-up out of the Oahu Interscholastic Association to secure their second-ever trip to a state final. Konawaena came up short to Lahainaluna, 75-69, in an epic 2017 title game in D2 that went seven overtimes. 

The crowd at Yates Field was well-aware of the significance of what was at stake last Saturday. 

"The energy was really, really good and our kids fed off of it. Our community came out in full force. Even though there was a concert downtown, we were still able to get a whole bunch of people out to the game and we just really fed off of them, it was really nice," Uemoto described. 

Anahu-Ambrosio, who grew up in West Hawaii, is in his first year at Konawaena after having played his freshman season at Timpview High School in Provo, Utah. He's turned heads since he's arrived at the Kealakekua campus. 

"As soon as he came back from all his trips during the summer he just jumped right in and it just started to get the ball rolling for us," Uemoto said. "He definitely helped (the offense) right off the bat. I think Keoki (Alani) never had the luxury of having a guy who can break the top off of the defense and there might have been some issues early on with the timing, but he's adjusted and Zed is tough to overthrow, so I know Keoki appreciates that and now he's gotten used to his route running and his speed."

Uemoto said that Anahu-Ambrosio runs in the high-4.4 to low-4.5 range in the 40-yard dash and owns scholarship offers from both the University of Hawaii and BYU; His older brother, Hezekiah, a senior defensive back and wide receiver for the Wildcats, is a University of Nevada-commit. 

"With Zed, he has good speed, very deceptive acceleration, but he just doesn't lose speed throughout his breaks and he has really good balance and good ball skills for such a young receiver," Uemoto commented. 

Anahu-Ambrosio has recorded at least two receptions in all 11 Konawaena games this season. On the year he has caught 67 passes for 1,1017 yards and 20 touchdowns; Anahu-Ambrosio has caught at least one TD in all but one game this fall. 

"I can't even remember the last time a receiver had 20 receiving touchdowns," Uemoto pondered. "It goes to show you how skilled he is. He's also over the thousand-yard mark and throughout the regular season he really didn't play in second halves, so statistically it's been very impressive for him the amount of damage he's done with shortened games."

In addition to his receiving exploits, on defense Anahu-Ambrosio has notched five interceptions and two fumble recoveries, including one that he returned for a touchdown, along with two pass break-ups and a couple of tackles for losses. 

"He just has a good knack for the ball and a good feel for playing safety and coming up and tackling and doing whatever he needs to do. He's just a good football mind, a very high football IQ," Uemoto said. 

Furthermore, Anahu-Ambrosio also stars on special teams as a returner on kickoffs and punts; He returned one punt 65 yards for a touchdown in a rout of Kealakehe in late September. 

"He's special, but not only because he's physically gifted, but you pair that with his high football IQ and his work ethic from when he was a young kid and just that combination is pretty much why he has two Division I offers as a sophomore," Uemoto stated. 

Uemoto went on about what sets Anahu-Ambrosio apart from many of his peers. 

"His work ethic is so good. I mean, it's beyond what we normally see at the high school level. It's just been ingrained by his parents from when he was younger to continuously work hard and compete and as his body develops he's going to stretch out a little bit and improve his speed and strength. He's obviously a Division-I caliber receiver, which is rare for the Big Island, but his potential is very high and I'm excited to see him in the next few years," Uemoto said. 

Anahu-Ambrosio, who also has two rushing touchdowns and even one passing TD this season, ranks second among all Division I pass-catchers in receiving yards. Uemoto noted that since Hezekiah suffered a season-ending knee injury in a regular-season win over Hilo a few months back, younger brother has upped his production big time. 

"He's definitely played this season for his brother and played inspired football. He and his brother are very close. They worked together out from when they were young and played football all the way through," Uemoto said. 

Uemoto pointed out just how engaged Zed remained throughout the narrow victory over Na Alii last Saturday. 

"His effort level defensively and on special teams was impressive and then to be able to go on offense and just grit it out — he just came up big in the big moments and he wanted the ball," Uemoto said. "He was talking to me on the sideline about different packages that he wanted me to call and when he speaks — like I said, he has a good IQ — and so he called a few plays on the field that worked and that's pretty impressive."

It's about the most talking one will hear out of Anahu-Ambrosio, who his coach calls a "Man of few words.

"He's just very matter of fact," Uemoto said. "He can be joking around and then he has this switch that when he gets on the field, he's a totally different person, but he's very soft-spoken and playful and a very good teammate who inspires everybody when he gets on the football field and you see what he does in front of you."

Anahu-Ambrosio and the Wildcats (10-1) will try for their first state championship in program history when they face off against the Marauders (11-1) in Saturday's state title game at Mililani's John Kauinana Stadium. 

"I think they're excited. We've been very business-like about it," Uemoto said. "I think in 2017 we sort of learned a lesson in terms of winning that semifinal game and kind of being too comfortable with being in the state championship game. We obviously celebrated the win over Aiea, but I reminded them (Monday) at practice that that game is done and we need to stop talking about it and we need to focus on Waipahu because it's a very big challenge going forward." 

Kickoff between ninth-ranked Konawaena and No. 10 Waipahu is scheduled for approximately 7 p.m. and will follow the Division II championship game between Waimea (8-2) and King Kekaulike (5-6) at 4 p.m. 


BOYS BASKETBALL

Keenan Kahoekapu, Castle — Scored 17 points in a win over Waianae 

Layden Kauka, Kohala — Scored 20 points, including four 3-pointers, in a win over Hawaii Prep 

Blaze Kaululaau, Nanakuli — Scored 25 points in a win over McKinley 

Pale Petalo, McKinley — Scored 21 points in a loss to Nanakuli 

Joshua Schutter, Kalani — Scored 24 points, including four 3-pointers, in a win over Hanalani 

Justin Yap, Maryknoll — Scored 22 points, including four 3-pointers, in a win over Aiea


FOOTBALL

Tai Aipia-Barrett, Waipahu — Caught five passes for 101 yards and a touchdown in a win over Iolani 

Ethan Alualu-Tuiolemotu, Campbell — Made three tackles, including two for losses with one sack and forced a fumble in a loss to Kahuku 

Kaili Arakaki, Waimea — Ran 13 times for 102 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Honokaa 

Falealii Atuaia, Kahuku — Scored on a 55-yard interception return for touchdown and made 3 1/2 tackles, including one sack, in a win over Campbell 

Mykah Brun, Waimea — Made two tackles for losses and intercepted two passes in a win over Honokaa 

Tallin Cazimero, Honokaa — Made 12 tackles in a loss to Waimea 

Maximum Fonoimoana — Made 3 1/2 tackles, including three for losses and two sacks in a win over Campbell 

Faapaia Fualema, Waipahu — Made seven tackles, including 1 1/2 for losses with one sack and intercepted a pass in a win over Iolani 

Jacob Gaudi, Iolani — Made 10 tackles in a loss to Waipahu 

Kawelu Kaiawe, Konawaena — Ran 25 times for 123 yards and a touchdown in win over Aiea 

Mo Kamai, Honokaa — Made seven tackles, including five for losses and forced a fumble in a loss to Waimea 

Kaimana Lale-Saole, Aiea — Ran 24 times for 129 yards in a loss to Konawaena

Noah Macapulay, Punahou — Caught eight passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Mililani 

Aiden Manutai, Kahuku — Scored on a 15-yard interception return, broke-up two other passes and made 1 1/2 tackles in a win over Campbell 

Aizik Mahuka, Aiea — Made seven tackles, including two for losses, picked off a pass and broke-up another in a loss to Konawaena 

Brayden Morioka, Iolani — Made 8 1/2 tackles, including one for a loss, forced a fumble and broke-up a pass in a loss to Waipahu 

Bronson Morioka, Iolani — Made 12 1/2 tackles, including one for a loss, in a loss to Waipahu 

Kitione Nakauciri, Kahuku — Made five tackles, including one sack, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and broke-up a pass in a win over Campbell 

Keawe Navas-Loa, Konawaena — Made nine tackles, including 1 1/2 for losses and recovered a fumble in a win over Aiea 

Shaun Niu Jr., Kahuku — Made four tackles and broke-up four passes in a win over Campbell 

Jacob Poouahi, Kekaulike — Made 9 1/2 tackles, including one for a loss, in a win over Nanakuli 

Devin Roberts, Kekaulike — Made three tackles, including two for losses and one sack, forced and recovered a fumble and broke-up a pass in a win over Nanakuli 

Ezekiel Rodrigues, Mililani — Made 11 tackles and intercepted a pass in a loss to Punahou 

Raymond Roller, Mililani — Caught eight passes for 150 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Punahou 

GianCarlo Rufo, Punahou — Made 5 1/2 tackles, including four for losses with two sacks and forced a fumble in a win over Mililani 

John-Keawe Sagapolutele, Punahou — Threw for 156 yards and three touchdowns on 17-of-23 passing with one interception in a win over Mililani 

Onosai Salanoa, Mililani — Caught fie passes for 117 yards and a touchdown in a loss to Punahou 

Madden Soliai, Kahuku — Scored on a 50-yard interception return, broke-up another pass and made a tackle in a win over Campbell 

Anieli Talaeai, Waipahu — Ran 17 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Iolani 

Austin Takaki, Konawaena — Made 4 1/2 tackles, including one for a loss, intercepted a pass, forced a fumble and broke-up a pass in a win over Aiea 

Emana Tarape, Mililani — Threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns on 17-of-28 passing with one interception in a loss to Punahou 

Liatama Uiliata, Waipahu — Ran 22 times for 199 yards and two touchdowns, threw for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-22 passing without an interception and recorded an interception on defense in a win over Iolani 

Alai Williams, Punahou — Ran 29 times for 237 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Mililani 


GIRLS BASKETBALL

Kalena Akinaka, Kekaulike — Scored 17 points in a loss to Sacred Hearts 

Keanu Huihui, Kamehameha-Hawaii — Scored 24 points in a win over Christian Liberty 

KalysaMarie Ng, Sacred Hearts — Scored 16 points in a loss to Kamehameha-Maui 

Shanti Visaya, Kamehameha-Maui — Scored 17 points in a win over Sacred Hearts 



Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].




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