PUKALANI - Abraham Reinhardt's night of many happy returns came when the Baldwin High School football team needed it most.
With the Bears having trouble on both offense and defense, Reinhardt had three kick-return touchdowns in the second quarter of a 48-27 win over King Kekaulike on Friday in front of about 2,000 fans at King Kekaulike Stadium.
Reinhardt scored on punt returns of 75 and 52 yards and a kickoff return of 92 yards.
Baldwin’s Abraham Reinhardt gets a lift from teammates Semisi Malafu (58) and Cejay-Deloso Tallant after his first punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter of the Bears’ 48-27 win over King Kekaulike on Friday at King Kekaulike Stadium.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"I just have to say that I wouldn't be able to do it without the boys blocking," said the 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior. "They opened up the holes beautifully, they were giving it all with their heart. Before the game I told everybody to give their heart and I wanted to be a good example. When you play with heart, good stuff will happen."
With the win, the Bears (3-1) clinched the Maui Interscholastic League's Division I first-round title.
"We just have to prepare more," Reinhardt said. "More in practice, just give it all we've got. That's it."
|x-clinched first-round championship|
|Baldwin 48, King Kekaulike 27|
|Maui High vs. Lahainaluna at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.|
|End of first round|
|Friday, Sept. 28|
|Lahainaluna at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.|
|Saturday, Sept. 29|
|Maui High at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.|
|BALDWIN 48, KING KEKAULIKE 27|
|B—Abraham Reinhardt 75 punt return (Zacharia Coloma-Mariano kick), 10:42.|
|KK—Charles Apuna 8 pass from Ryley Widell (kick failed), 6:47.|
|B—Dusty Flores 4 run (Coloma-Mariano kick), 5:17.|
|KK—Austin Ferreira 77 pass from Widell (Justen Romkee kick), 4:05.|
|B—Reinhardt 92 kickoff return (Coloma-Mariano kick), 3:49.|
|B—Flores 4 run (kick blocked), 2:00.|
|B—Reinhardt 52 punt return (Coloma-Mariano kick), 1:17.|
|B—Keelan Ewaliko 2 run (Coloma-Mariano kick), 9:19.|
|B—Larry Gines 2 pass from Ewaliko (Coloma-Mariano kick), 5:25.|
|KK—Romeo Cabbat 1 pass from Widell (Romkee kick), 4:50.|
|KK—Cabbat 31 pass from Widell (Romkee kick), 1:20.|
|RUSHING—B, Flores 9-60, Ewaliko 6-59, Thad Shishido 4-35, Jordin Galicinao 4-25, Ryan Graham 1-22, team 1-(minus 11); KK, Widell 7-24, Cabbat 6-13, Chevy Vierra 4-9, Aaron Alama 10-5, Romkee 1-0, Keanu Popejoy-Kanamu 1-(minus 1).|
|PASSING—B, Ewaliko 8-17-0—73, Graham 2-7-0—0; KK, Widell 14-23-1—301.|
|RECEIVING—B, Ryan Garces 5-54, Gines 2-12, Coloma-Mariano 1-7, Chris Kazanecki 1-0, Atreil Tanaka 1-0; KK, Cabbat 4-75, Alama 3-15, Ferreira 2-81, Joshua Ogata 2-72, Apuna 2-52, Ryder Souza 1-6.|
|MISSED FIELD GOALS—B, Coloma-Mariano 43 (SH).|
Reinhardt scored the game's first points on a 75-yard punt return with 10 minutes, 42 seconds left in the half, igniting a second quarter in which the teams combined for 47 points.
The Bears' offense failed to garner a first down for a quarter and a half and their defense gave up 351 yards to Na Alii (0-4), who came into the game with one offensive touchdown in MIL play and two of their biggest threats - Keegan Gregg and Jay Braun - gone for the season with injuries.
"We struggled a little bit," said Baldwin coach A.J. Roloos. "It's a team sport, special teams count. We scored three touchdowns on special teams. Abraham is a great athlete and he gave us a morale boost on both sides of the ball. . . . We have got to clean stuff up, we can't play like this. This is unacceptable how we are playing. Offensively and defensively, we can't do that. We have got to fix it at practice."
Na Alii answered the first touchdown with an eight-play, 80-yard drive, easily their best possession of the season to that point. A 44-yard pass from Ryley Widell to Charles Apuna put the ball on the 5-yard line and Apuna caught an 8-yard scoring pass three plays later - the first of Widell's four touchdown throws in the game.
A short kickoff gave Baldwin the ball on its 43, and Keelan Ewaliko gave the Bears their initial first down of the game on a 23-yard run with 6:37 to go before halftime. A late-hit penalty moved the ball to the 19 and Dusty Flores' 4-yard touchdown run made the score 14-6 with 5:17 left in the half.
Austin Ferreira broke free over the middle for a 77-yard touchdown pass from Widell to make it 14-13 with 4:05 to go, but Reinhardt flashed past everyone on the ensuing kickoff with 3:49 left.
Widell then threw his first interception on his 66th pass of the MIL season - Jacob Valle picked off a sideline pattern and returned the ball 18 yards to the King Kekaulike 22. Flores scored his second touchdown, on a 4-yard run five plays later, with 2:00 remaining.
After Baldwin forced a punt, Reinhardt was there one more time, weaving through the coverage to give Baldwin a 21-point lead with 1:17 left in the half.
The Bears had 235 return yards in the first half. They finished the game with 263 yards of offense.
Ewaliko and Larry Gines each ran for 2-yard touchdowns in the third quarter.
King Kekaulike had a 64-yard touchdown pass from Widell to Joshua Ogata called back with nine minutes remaining in the game, but Romeo Cabbat caught a 1-yard scoring pass from Widell six plays later to make it 48-20 and turn off the mercy-rule clock with 4:50 left.
Cabbat caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from Widell with 1:20 to play. That final throw pushed Widell to 301 passing yards in the game - he finished 14-of-23. Widell entered the game as the league's leading passer, with 247 yards in three games.
"We didn't do too bad offensively, it is just that we fell short in another phase of the game," said Na Alii coach Clarence Rivers. "We are just trying to get better each week, that is all we are trying to do. Keep upbeat, work hard, and let the chips fall where they fall. . . . Everything happens that second round, so we have an opportunity and as long as we have that opportunity, anything can happen."
Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org