Reinhardt’s “Special” Play Boost Bears Over Na Alii
By Rodney S. Yap
On a night that the Baldwin High School football team appeared ordinary, it received an extra-special performance from Abraham Reinhardt when it needed it most.
With a flip of the switch, it seemed, the 6-foot, 180-pound senior unleashed a flurry of speed and athleticism rarely seen in Maui Interscholastic League football, one that produced punt returns of 75 and 52 yards, and a jaw-dropping 92-yard kickoff return.
Reinhardt’s second-quarter scoring barrage — boom, boom, boom — was the game-changer for Baldwin on a night when its offense and defense was average at best. A King Kekaulike Stadium crowd of about 2,000 watched the Bears clinch the MIL’s first-round title, leaving Upcountry with a 48-27 victory over Na Alii.
Baldwin improved to 3-1, but had little highlights to speak of, with the exception of the spectacular play of the Bears’ second-year return specialist Reinhardt.
“If feels good,” said Reinhardt, who has now scored six touchdowns, four different ways. “My teammates have been opening big holes.”
The starting safety came into the game having already scored on a 89-yard kickoff return against Kamehameha Maui and a 59-yard fumble return in the team’s league opener against Maui High.
Reinhardt’s feat was so improbable, Baldwin’s AJ Roloos can not recall the last time a player returned three kicks for touchdown in the same varsity MIL game, much less one quarter.
“That’s the first time I have ever seen that happen,” said Roloos, who is in his 12th season at Baldwin and fifth year as head coach. “In fact, I think that’s the most we’ve ever scored in one game. I can recall two maybe, one kickoff and a punt, but never three in one half.”
“Any time you can get a touchdown off special teams that’s a huge plus. It’s a moral builder a momentum changer. Your defense goes three-and-out and they punt and you get a touchdown off of it. It changes the whole mentality of the game.”
Reinhardt broke-open the scoring with the first of his two punt returns, bursting down the Makua sidelines 75 yards. Zacharia Coloma-Mariano’s extra-point kick made it 7-0, 1 minute, 18 seconds into the second quarter.
“We run to either side of the field, Coach Keneke (Pacheco) will call it to whatever side works,” Reinhardt explained. “It doesn’t really matter if I catch the ball on the fly or off a bounce, to me it’s the same.”
Once he establishes possession, Reinhardt said he follows the flow of his blockers and tries “to setup the blocks and make the holes even bigger.”
Kekaulike fought back and cut the lead to 7-6 when quarterback Ryley Widell connected with Charles Apuna for an 8-yard touchdown pass.
Then the two teams traded touchdowns in a span of 72 seconds, Kekaulike striking last when Widell hit Austin Ferreira in stride for a 77-yard touchdown pass, the team’s longest play from scrimmage this season.
The home team was still digesting Ferreira’s score, when Reinhardt took the ensuing kickoff 92 yards to pay dirt.
It was the second time this year that Reinhardt answered an opponent’s big-play touchdown with an electrifying kick return of his own.
“We stress special teams to the kids. It can take the wind out of an opponent’s sail,” Roloos said. “When they got that long reception for touchdown, Abe came right back and scored a 92-yard touchdown on the very next play.”
“We like scoring on special teams, it’s fun. We like watching the kids execute what they are taught, and watch how they are setting it up. Then Abraham finds a crease and once he finds a crease, he’s gone. One block can help spring him 80 yards. It’s fun watching it come together.”
On the kick return, Roloos said: “He really set-up the blocking nicely. He went up the middle and then burst to the sidelines.”
Roloos said everything happens by design and plenty of repetitions in practice.
“We stress special teams for 30 minutes everyday in practice, because it’s a game changer. I totally believe that.”
With two minutes left in the first half, Roloos used his first timeout while the Bears’ defense was on the field.
During the break, Reinhardt ran up to Roloos on the sidelines and said, “Coach, why are we calling timeout?”
“I said to him, ‘I have two more timeouts.’ He said, ‘But why?’
“I said, ‘It’s second down and long, and I’ll call one more on the next play, so you can return the punt for a touchdown.’ ”
“Oh, ok, ok,” Reinhardt responded.
Sure enough on the very next play, Reinhardt returned the punt 52 yards for touchdown.
“Then, he came right up to me and I said, ‘That’s exactly why I used the timeout.’ ”
On the downside, Roloos said: “We have to clean up the offense and we have some cleaning up on the defensive side of the ball, too. There is no excuse. We should not be giving up that much yards on defense. We have to go back to fundamentals. If we are going to contend for a state title we have to get better, because right now we are so far from being where we need to be.”
Friday’s Scoring Summary
Baldwin 0 34 14 0—48
King Kekaulike 0 13 0 14—27
BHS—Abraham Reinhardt 75 punt return (Zacharia Coloma-Mariano kick), 10:42.
KKH—Charles Apuna 8 pass from Ryley Widell (kick failed), 6:47.
BHS—Dusty Flores 4 run (Coloma-Mariano kick), 5:17.
KKH—Austin Ferreira 77 pass from Widell (Justen Romkee kick), 4:05.
BHS—Reinhardt 92 kickoff return (Coloma-Mariano kick), 3:49.
BHS—Flores 4 run (kick blocked), 2:00.
BHS—Reinhardt 52 punt return (Coloma-Mariano kick), 1:17.
BHS—Keelan Ewaliko 2 run (Coloma-Mariano kick), 9:19.
BHS—Larry Gines 2 pass from Ewaliko (Coloma-Mariano kick), 5:25.
KKH—Romeo Cabbat 1 pass from Widell (Romkee kick), 4:50.
KKH—Cabbat 31 pass from Widell (Romkee kick), 1:20.
Junior varsity—King Kekaulike 16, Baldwin 12.