WAILUKU - The Baldwin High School football team had a 1-2 overall record a month ago.
After the Bears' 49-17 romp over Maui High on Friday night in front of about 1,500 fans at War Memorial Stadium, they are on the verge of their eighth straight trip to the Division I state playoffs.
Senior quarterback Keelan Ewaliko has made his presence felt in a large way in the last three games since returning from a broken rib, including three touchdown runs and a scoring pass against the Sabers.
Baldwin High School’s Keelan Ewaliko looks for running room during the first half of the Bears’ 49-17 victory over Maui High on Friday at War Memorial Stadium.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Baldwin’s Abraham Reinhardt runs back a second-quarter punt as Maui High’s Brysen Kokubun tries to fight off Dusty Flores’ block.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Since Ewaliko's return, the Bears (1-0 in Maui Interscholastic League second round, 4-1 MIL overall) have outscored three league opponents 159-62, and now are a win or Maui High loss from clinching another state berth.
"Right now, we still have bumps in the road," Ewaliko said. "My line is my foundation. Everything starts with them. Without them, I can't really do much. These past two weeks, we got in a lot of work. We are going to start picking it up some more, the second half has already started and we have to get to a peak and just get better."
Baldwin scored on seven of its first 10 possessions and didn't punt until just over four minutes were left in the game. Ewaliko ran 10 times for 115 yards and completed 10 of 21 passes for 173 yards.
MIL SECOND-ROUND STANDINGS
Overall MIL record in parentheses * x-won first-round championship
|Maui High (2-4)||0||2||.000||31||70|
|KS Maui (2-3)||1||0||1.000||21||14|
|King Kekaulike (0-5)||0||1||.000||0||42|
Baldwin 49, Maui 17
Lahainaluna at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 12
Kamehameha Maui at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 13
Lahainaluna vs. Baldwin at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
He found six different receivers in the Bears' first game without Ryan Garces, the MIL's leading receiver entering the weekend. Garces is out for the season with a broken ankle suffered in a win over King Kekaulike two weeks ago.
"Garces, that's a big loss, but we have guys who stepped in and they caught the ball," said Ewaliko, who has verbally accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Hawaii. "We spread it around. When in doubt, I will run the ball, but otherwise I will just throw to whoever is open."
Baldwin coach A.J. Roloos said Ewaliko, the reigning state 200-meter champion, makes a huge difference in the Bears' attack.
"Big-time, he does," Roloos said. "As a defensive coordinator, you can't really take chances - he has got the speed, he has got the experience, he has got the arm to throw. Tonight, we threw the ball a lot more than we ran. He's something special back there."
The Bears had some midweek turmoil in their locker room after practice, but Roloos said those issues have been addressed.
"We had some bad things going on and, you know, we already squashed it and we are moving on," Roloos said.
Freshman Soane Vaohea spearheaded a Maui High ground attack that piled up 274 yards, much of it in the fourth quarter after Baldwin built a 49-3 lead. Vaohea ran 20 times for 133 yards with an 8-yard touchdown. Mario Fernandez had eight carries for 84 yards, including the final touchdown on a 33-yard scamper.
The Sabers (0-2, 2-4) dressed only 33 players.
"Baldwin's tough, but we are just concentrating on us every day," Maui High coach David Bui said. "We have a bunch of guys out, we have a bunch of guys hurt, a lot of adversity, and all we are doing is we are measuring ourselves against ourselves every day."
The Bears took a 27-3 lead into the locker rooms after two touchdown runs by Ewaliko and a nifty 46-yard touchdown pass from Ewaliko to Zacharia Coloma-Mariano.
The scoring pass came after Ewaliko evaded an intense rush that appeared to have him corralled three times. Coloma-Mariano was wide open over the middle after Ewaliko's escape act.
Ewaliko's first touchdown run, from 9 yards out, capped an 11-play, 62-yard drive on the game's opening possession.
The Bears got the ball back three plays later when Jacob Valle intercepted a Kealii Guzman pass and returned it 15 yards to the Maui High 19-yard line. Ewaliko scored from 7 yards out three plays later to make the score 13-0 with 5:40 left in the first quarter.
The Sabers stopped the Bears on downs late in the quarter and went 36 yards in five plays to set up a 47-yard field goal by Jared Kapisi.
Abraham Reinhardt, who has four touchdowns on kick returns this season, brought the ensuing kickoff back 39 yards and Ewaliko hit Coloma-Mariano on the first play from scrimmage to make it 20-3 with 10:43 left in the half. Reinhardt had three kick returns for 108 yards on the night.
On Baldwin's next possession, an apparent 49-yard scoring strike from Ewaliko to Coloma-Mariano was called back by an ineligible-receiver penalty. Vaohea picked off Ewaliko near the goal line on the same drive, but the Bears got the ball back when Gabe Chavolla-Fukushima recovered a fumble on the Maui High 18.
Baldwin's Miki Fangatua, a 6-foot, 253-pound defensive lineman, lined up in the backfield and carried on back-to-back runs of 8 and 10 yards to put the ball in the end zone for a 27-3 lead with 3:16 to go in the half.
The Bears finished with 378 yards of offense, while the Sabers had 293.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Maui High ..... 0 ....... 3 ....... 0 ..... 14-17
Baldwin ....... 13 ..... 14 ..... 15 ....... 7-49
B-Keelan Ewaliko 9 run (Zacharia Coloma-Mariano kick), 7:56.
B-Ewaliko 7 run (kick failed), 5:40.
MH-Jared Kapisi 47 FG, 11:11.
B-Coloma-Mariano 46 pass from Ewaliko (Coloma-Mariano kick), 10:43.
B-Miki Fangatua 10 run (Coloma-Mariano kick), 3:16.
B-Thad Shishido 1 run (Anthony Tafuna pass from Ewaliko), 8:23.
B-Chris Kazanecki 23 pass from Ewaliko (Coloma-Mariano kick), 3:45.
B-Ewaliko 25 run (Coloma-Mariano kick), 11:00.
MH-Soane Vaohea 8 run (Kapisi kick), 6:30.
MH-Mario Fernandez 33 run (Kapisi kick), 0:54.
* * *
Junior varsity-Baldwin 21, Maui High 12.