Baldwin Pushed to Limit in Win Against Kamehameha Maui
By Rodney S. Yap
In Kamaki Gouveia We Trust.
The Baldwin High School football team may want to raise its commitment to running the ball in 2016 after evaluating Saturday’s game video against Kamehameha Schools Maui.
Kamehameha Schools Maui gave perennial Maui Interscholastic League Division I champion Baldwin all it could handle Saturday, before succumbing 19-14 at Kanaiaupuni Stadium. The Warriors fought tooth-and-nail with the bigger Bears through four quarters, relying on new levels of strength and conditioning.
“They are a much-improved team, and they were physical, very physical,” said Baldwin head coach Thomas Pohai Lee.
The wide-open, spread formation offense that has been Baldwin’s hallmark for more than a decade, appears to be fractured or at the very least, considerably less effective three games into the season.
Mostly because Baldwin quarterback Chayce Akaka is without a go-to receiver, after comfortably targeting older brother, Tage Akaka, last season.
The Bears’ wide-open passing attack took a backseat to the ground-and-pound running of senior tailback Gouveia, who rushed for one touchdown and finished with 185 yards on 21 carries.
It was Gouveia who got the Bears on the scoreboard first, capping an 82-yard drive with a 28-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter. Gouveia later helped the team seal its first win with a clutch fourth-down catch.
“That was a big-time catch for us,” Lee said. “Kamaki has come back in great shape and he’s kind of a do-it-all kind guy and we are lucky to have him. He’s obviously a go-to guy for us.”
Lee said the amount of touches Gouveia gets in a game depends on what the defense is doing.
“Every week it will vary based on what the defense will be giving us.”
Baldwin (1-0) plays Maui High (2-0) in the “Big Game,” Saturday at War Memorial Stadium, beginning at 7 p.m.
“I’m just proud of our kids because they played hard,” said Kamehameha Maui (1-1) first-year coach Ulima Afoa. “It helped that our level of conditioning was high.
“We had kids in position, but they just were not making the tackles. They were trying to tackle high, which played into the running back’s strength. And Akaka is a good runner himself. So we can’t take anything away from them and we have to get better at tackling.”
Akaka, who threw for 107 yards, added one touchdown and 99 yards on 14 carries as Baldwin finished with 321 yards rushing.
“There were a couple of schemes we hadn’t seen them in,” Lee said of the Warriors’ offense. “And when that happens we have to adjust on the fly. It took us a while to kind of figure it out, but that’s part of coaching.
“They game-planned well and we were fortunate. Ulima has been around, so he knows how to get the most out of his boys. “
Kamehameha’s Damon Martin ran 12 yards for a touchdown with 5:53 to play, capping a 61-yard drive that cut Baldwin’s lead to. Afoa relied on the fly sweep to get Martin around the corner and into open space.
“We tried to run the ball inside a little bit, but it was pretty tough sledding in there with their big kids and they minimized our yardage. So we wanted to utilize Damon’s speed and get him into open field. Normally, if we can get him some open field good things happen so that’s what we were trying to do (in the second half).”
Baldwin led 13-7 at halftime when Akaka found Dalton Mata for a 36-yard scoring toss with 36 seconds left ’till halftime. Akaka’s 5-yard run with 7:18 to play in the third quarter helped the Bears extend their lead to 19-7.
KS-Maui quarterback Kainoa Sanchez found Tristan Catan for a 37-yard touchdown pass. Kealaula Keliikoa kicked the extra point to tie the score at 7-7.
Afoa revamped the Warrior offense, going with an empty-backfield set, after running a double tight-end, single-back formation in the team’s previous games.
Lee said Akaka’s role is multi-dimensional, much like a concert conductor or a coach on the field.
“I talked with him early in the season, knowing what we had coming back. I told him he would have to be patient with them. And at the same time he has to be a leader in directing the offense. In our offense the quarterback is the triggerman. It’s about ownership and Chayce can’t be sitting back and letting things go. We are leaving it up to him also to kind of direct.
“Last year his brother Tage was his security blanket, not to mention brothers have a special bond, they know each other well and had played with each other for several years.
“So it’s a thing that we have to work through. It’s going to get better. I can say the same thing about our offensive line last year and it took them a while to gel, but they figured things out. So with a brand new bunch of receivers it’s still a rhythm thing and a trust thing — a work in progress right now.”
Lee added: “We are not lacking in receivers as far as numbers, it’s just a matter of who is going to step up day to day, competing with each other, and that’s where we find out in practice and ultimately games. They are still making mistakes, correctible though for sure. They are an athletic group, and at the same time it takes a while to gel together with what Chayce is doing.”
NOTE: Baldwin junior linebacker Nainoa Keahi had to be carted off the field in the first quarter after a teammate fell on his right leg as he was trailing a play near the Baldwin sidelines. “As far as I know it was a clean break of his tibia and fibula (two bones run parallel from the knee to the ankle). They medivaced him to Oahu, where he was waiting today for a surgeon,” Lee said of his starting inside linebacker. “It’s very unfortunate for us and our thoughts and prayers go out to Nainoa and his family. . . . He’s just a great kid and we are going to miss his character and how he gets along with everybody in the locker room.”
BEARS 19, WARRIORS 14
At Kanaiaupuni Stadium
Saturday’s MIL Scoring Summary
Baldwin 7 6 6 0—19
KS Maui 7 0 0 7—14
BH—Kamaki Gouveia 28 run (Bishop Wickes kick), 6:05.
KS—Tristan Catan 37 pass from Kainoa Sanchez (Kealaula Keliikoa kick), 3:12.
BH—Dalton Mata 36 pass from Chayce Akaka (kick failed), 0:36.
BH—Akaka 5 run (run failed), 7:18.
KS—Damon Martin 12 run (Keliikoa kick), 5:53.
NOTE: All individual and team statistics were complied by Robert Collias of The Maui News.