Na Alii fall to Tigers
Hunter scores pair of touchdowns in 31-14, season-opening loss
PUKALANI — The stage was set for an important win for someone.
McKinley High School swooped in to Pukalani and walked away with a 31-14 win over King Kekaulike on Friday night in the first game of the high school football season on the Valley Isle.
The game was a four-point contest early in the third quarter.
“For us, we’re looking at a lot of mistakes — I think we kind of beat ourselves out there on the field,” King Kekaulike co-head coach Tyson Valle said. “But, man, what an exciting game. Signs of life coming from these guys. I’m excited for our season — we’ve just got to work on our mistakes.”
Na Alii junior Trey Hunter finished with 251 all-purpose yards — 34 rushing, 67 receiving and 150 on kick returns. He scored both of the King Kekaulike touchdowns.
“He was electric, but he was one who also made mistakes, so we’ve got to go back to practice and I think we know what we’ve got to do,” Valle said.
King Kekaulike’s brand new $5 million artificial turf field shown brightly in the shadow of the school’s sparkling new $35 million performing arts facility. The turf is filled with crushed coconut husks instead of the usual crushed rubber.
State Rep. Kyle Yamashita officiated the opening coin toss between Na Alii and the Tigers. Both teams had one win in their last 32 games.
Na Alii were looking for their first win since Sept. 5, 2014 — Friday’s loss pushed their streak of futility to 32 games.
They closed within 18-14 on a stellar 40-yard scoring pass from Franco Melgar Martich to Hunter with 8 minutes, 43 seconds left in the third quarter.
Things quickly went south from there for the hosts, who hurt themselves with seven turnovers.
Migguel Camacho, who finished with 152 yards rushing on 26 carries, broke free up the middle for a 61-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 25-18 less than a minute later. On the next possession, Camacho scooped up a fumble and scored on a 21-yard return with 4:08 left in the third quarter to make it 31-14.
It was just the second win in more than four seasons for McKinley.
“To start the season with a win, that’s big for us,” said McKinley coach Pat Silva, who served as a King Kekaulike assistant under current Na Alii athletic director P.K. Higa from 1999 to 2001. “We haven’t had too much success over the years. So, for us it’s just a matter of building this program brick by brick.”
The Tigers took command early with a pair of first-quarter touchdowns with a significant wind in their favor. They led 18-7 at halftime.
Emilio Paul dove in on fourth-and-inches to make it 6-0 with 7:16 left in the first quarter. The five-play, 22-yard scoring drive was set up by a fumble recovery by Khert Vincent-Saing.
King Kekaulike’s Elijah Finau returned the ensuing kickoff 35 yards to the McKinley 35-yard line, but Na Alii could not generate a first down, turning the ball over on downs.
McKinley then went 61 yards in nine plays, pushing the lead to 12-0 on a 26-yard scoring pass from Alexandria Buchanan to Leon Montgomery with 2:24 to go in the half.
King Kekaulike fumbled on their next play and McKinley recovered at Na Alii’s 24. Camacho scored on a 3-yard run seven plays later to make it 18-0.
Hunter wound through a crowd on the ensuing kickoff and scored on a 78-yard highlight reel return to make it 18-7 with 11:13 left in the first half.
Na Alii did not record a first down until the final minute of the half, gaining 70 yards to end the second quarter on a 21-yard pass to Hunter. Hunter had 16 yards rushing and the lone reception for King Kekaulike in the first half.
McKinley outgained King Kekaulike 178 yards to 31 in the first two quarters. The final tally was 253 yards to 129 in favor of the Tigers.
McKinley quarterback Buchanan finished 4-for-18 passing for 56 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception.
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org
McKinley 12 6 13 0–31
King Kekaulike 0 7 7 0–14
M–Emilio Paul 1 run (run failed), 7:16.
M–Leon Montgomery 26 pass from Alexandria Buchanan (pass failed), 2:24.
M–Migguel Camacho 3 run (pass failed), 11:27.
KK–Trey Hunter 78 kickoff return (Hanalei Akina kick). 11:13.
KK–Hunter 40 pass from Franco Melgar Martich (Akina kick), 8:43.
M–Camacho 61 run (Dylan Iboshi kick), 7:46.
M–Camacho 21 fumble return (run failed), 4:08.
McKinley 31, King Kekaulike 14
Lahainaluna vs. Kapaa at Vidinha Stadium, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 10
Maui High vs. Kauai at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 11
Baldwin vs. Bartlett (Alaska) at War Memorial Stadium, 6 p.m.
King Kekaulike at Hawaii Prep, 7 p.m.