Maui High takes opener
WAILUKU – Daniel Kelley knows this Maui High School football team can do even better.
The junior running back rushed for 216 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries Friday night, and the Sabers beat Kealakehe 28-7 in front of about 800 fans at War Memorial Stadium in the first high school football game of the season on Maui.
“It definitely does feel good, wow,” Kelley said after being told of his totals. “Our lines definitely did a good job blocking. Our team, we had a lot of people (academically) ineligible to play and they are our good players and hopefully next week they will be eligible to play, so it’s going to be good on the field.”
Kelley also had two fumbles in the game – one on the third play from scrimmage and one deep in Waverider territory late in the game.
“Yes sir, that is frustrating,” Kelley said. “It’s something I can fix, I can definitely fix that during practice. I can get better next week.”
The Sabers fumbled five times altogether, losing three.
“There were a lot mistakes out there,” said Maui High coach David Bui. “We’re not satisfied. We know what out goals are. I hope that was an eye-opener for our team, but now they know what they have got to work on and what we have to do to win the (Maui Interscholastic League).”
The Sabers led 13-7 after two quarters, but had chances to be in front by even more.
Maui High tied the score at 7-7 when Tyson Takabayashi scampered 17 yards to the end zone with 10 minutes, 23 seconds left in the second quarter. The four-play, 46-yard drive was set up by a 42-yard kickoff return by Takabayashi, who had 118 yards on four kick returns in the game.
The first three carries on the drive went to Kelley, for 3, 19 and 7 yards.
The Sabers took a six-point lead when they went 60 yards in six plays, scoring with 2:40 left in the half on a 7-yard run by Kelley, who also had a 27-yard run on the drive.
Maui High ran the ball on all 29 of its first-half plays, with Kelley piling up 136 yards on 17 carries.
The Sabers got to the 3-yard line with the clock running down in the first half, but missed a field goal as time expired. They got another play when the Waveriders ran into kicker Christian Salinas, but Kealakehe stuffed Kelley on the untimed down that finished the half.
Early in the game, the Sabers had a 12-yard touchdown run by Kelley called back by a holding penalty and did not score on the drive.
“There were some positives, this is a pretty good Kealakehe team,” Bui said. “We felt like we executed well. It’s just every now and then we made that little mistake that just kind of killed everything. It’s tough. We have got to evaluate the film and we have got to get better. That effort was definitely not good enough to accomplish what we are setting up to do this year.”
Kaimi Wilson gave the Waveriders a 7-0 lead when he leaped over the Sabers’ Nathan Vierra to catch a 25-yard touchdown pass from Sequoia Iona with four seconds left in the first quarter.
In the second half, the Sabers completed the first pass they tried when Jayden Wilhelm fired a 21-yard strike to Nic Tobin. The first down at the Kealakehe 21-yard line went for naught when Maui High fumbled two plays later.
The Sabers gained some breathing room in the third quarter when they forced a punt from the Waveriders’ 4. A 14-yard return by Soane Vaohea and three runs by Kelly set up Takabayashi’s 1-yard touchdown plunge midway through the period to make it 20-7.
Maui High’s defense got on the scoreboard when it forced Wilson, playing quarterback, into an intentional-grounding penalty in the end zone with six seconds left in the third.
McNel Gulleirmo capped the scoring with 5:15 to play on an 11-yard run. Again the Maui High defense forced a punt from inside the 10-yard line, and the kick went only 14 yards to set up the Sabers on the Waveriders’ 21.
Maui High finished with 331 yards, 310 on the ground. The Sabers limited the Waveriders, who lost in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I championship game last season, to 202 total yards and eight first downs.
“Man, their running game is awesome, No. 28 (Kelley) is awesome,” said Kealakehe coach Sam Kekuaokalani. “What more can I say? We knew that they were going to run at us, but we now know what it’s about.”
Maui High had 14 players on academic probation and not eligible to play in the game.
“We’re disappointed about that, but that happened months ago,” Bui said. “It’s over and we have got to move forward.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
K-Kaimi Wilson 25 pass from Sequoia Iona (Ari Mench kick), 0:04.
MH-Tyson Takabayashi 17 run (Christian Salinas kick), 10:23.
MH-Daniel Kelly 7 run (kick failed), 2:40.
MH-Takabayashi 1 run (Salinas kick), 5:59.
MH-Safety, quarterback called for intentional grounding in end zone, 0:06.
MH-McNel Guillermo 11 run (run failed), 5:15.