Warriors Sneak Past Na Alii With Late Field Goal

September 9, 2012, 8:37 PM HST · Updated September 9, 8:39 PM
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Kamehameha Maui’s Taylor Kaaukai (23) scores the 1-yard out for the Warriors’ only touchdown of the game. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

By Rodney S. Yap

In a battle of winless Upcountry teams, the Warriors of Kamehameha Maui defeated King Kekaulike, 11-8, on the strength of Colton Cabanas’ game-winning 34-yard field goal.

A Kanaiaupuni Stadium crowd of a 1,000 watched Cabanas split the uprights with 7 minutes, 46 seconds left in the game, breaking a 8-8 tie since midway through the second quarter.

The victory was the Warriors’ first, improving their record to 1-2 in the Maui Interscholastic League and 1-3 overall. Meanwhile, King Kekaulike is still looking for its first win under new head coach Clarence Rivers. Na Alii is now 0-2 in the MIL and 0-3 overall.

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Both teams came into the game struggling offensively. Although, KS-Maui finished with more points, but Kekaulike managed more yards, 206 to 143.

King Kekaulike’s Keegan Gregg returns this punt 79 yards for touchdown. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

King Kekaulike got all of its points in a 15-second span with 2:12 left in the first quarter thanks to a Na Alii safety and a 79-yard return for a touchdown by Keegan Gregg on the ensuing free kick.

The Warriors got its only touchdown — a 1-yard plunge by Taylor Kaaukai with 7:05 in the second quarter — on a five-play, 66-yard scoring drive. KS-Maui quarterback Connnor Kalai Yap rolled out and ran for 31 yards to start the drive and then added runs of 19 and 14 yards, respectively. Two plays later Kaaukai scored and Yap went to Kaaukai again, this time with a two-point pass.

The game stayed tied until Cabanas’ field goal capped a five-play drive that saw Yap complete his only pass of the game to sophomore Chase Newton. The 32-yard reception put the ball on Na Alii’s 13-yard line and Cabanas nailed the game-winner three plays later.

King Kekaulike had a 41-yard touchdown pass from Ryley Widell to Charles Apuna called back early in the first quarter. As a result of the Na Alii is still looking to score its first offensive touchdown of the season.

“We just missed a couple of opportunities,” King Kekaulike offensive coordinator Lance DeSilva said. “The good thing is we had opportunities and we moved the ball.”

KS-Maui defensive tackle Siaosi Ngalu (61) wrestles down Kekaulike running back Aaron Alama (22) as Warrior linebacker Cal Alexander (6) moves in. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

DeSilva said there were plenty of positives and he is pleased that the offense is making progress.

“We have a young quarterback,” said the second-year coach about his left-hander Widell. “With a young quarterback like we have, it’s going to take time. We are only four games into his varsity high school career and he’s only going to get better. He’s a very smart kid and he’s athletic.”

Widell, at 6-foot-1, 165-pounds, displayed his strong arm Saturday, overthrowing several of his receivers on long routes.

In addition to all-star Gregg, converted linebacker Charles Apuna (6-1, 180) showed well Saturday and will become another threat on offense for Na Alii.

“The thing about Keegan is, he’s very consistent and he’s been really good for us. I thought Charles played big, he’s a very physical receiver and that’s a good thing for us  . . . he’s really stepped up his game.”

DeSilva added: “The o-line is coming around and so are our running backs. I thought (Aaron) Alama had a good game running the ball and he’s emerging at the position. So as much as we are disappointed that we left points on the field, we are pleased that we are going in a positive direction.”

Kekaulike suffered another blow, losing junior running back Jay Braun, a transfer from Seabury Hall, to a torn ACL injury.

“He’s a very humble kid, super nice,” said DeSilva of Braun, who is not only the fastest man in the MIL, but also one of the strongest, posting the best bench press (18 reps at 225 pounds) marks at the 2012 Maui Football Combine in June.

“That’s a nice combination to have, strength and speed,” DeSilva added. “I know he’s upset, but he didn’t let anybody down. It was a pleasure to have him. Now he needs to concentrate on the rehabbing and taking care of his body.”

Kekaulike junior running back Jay Braun Jr. suffered a torn ACL injury in Saturday’s against Kamehameha Maui. Braun is being attended to by school trainer Jaime Lowe. Photo by Rodney S. Yap

Saturday’s Scoring Summary

King Kekaulike 8 0 0 0—8

Kamehameha Maui 0 8 0 3—11

First Quarter

KKH—Botched handoff in end zone, 2:12; 2-0.

KKH—Keegan Gregg 79 kickoff return (run failed), 1:57; 8-0.

Second Quarter

KSM—Taylor Kaaukai 1 run (Kaaukai pass from Yap), 7:05; 8-0.

Fourth Quarter

KSM—FG Colton Cabanas 34, 7:46; 11-8

Junior varsity—King Kekaulike 19, Kamehameha Maui 14.

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