Silverado never trailed Thursday night, but it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Skyhawks felt comfortable.
It was in the final quarter that Silverado turned to sophomore quarterback Kana Hoapili, who had yet to step onto the field in a varsity game. When he got his chance, all he did was deliver two touchdown passes that helped the Skyhawks pull away from Foothill and claim the “Victory Bell” with a 41-7 win.
“We just brought him up (from junior varsity) this week,” Silverado coach Randall Cunningham said of Hoapili. “Just been showing him how I do things and he’s been able to watch and see the other quarterbacks.”
Clearly, he has been watching and learning. When Cunningham called Hoapili’s number, and threw a converted wide receiver into a varsity game for the first time, he watched him jump-start a stagnated offense.
When Hoapili entered the game, the Skyhawks (6-1, 2-1 Southeast League) led 20-7, but only had one offensive touchdown. They scored on an interception return and a kickoff return, but other than that their entire offense was running back Keikiokalani Misipeka. At halftime, Silverado had 115 total yards from scrimmage, 93 from Misipeka.
Hoapili’s first pass went Anthony Bugay for 14 yards, and he didn’t slow down. The next play was a 29-yard touchdown to Tyreese Newsome-Johnson. He kept going to Newsome-Johnson, connecting on his next three completions, including a 12-yard TD pass and a 45-yard bomb.
Hoapili finished 5 of 6 passing for 97 yards and two touchdowns. His one incompletion was actually caught, but Newsome-Johnson could not keep a foot inbounds.
“Sitting on the sidelines I feel like I’m just waiting for my time to get in,” Ho’opili said. “I trust my receivers so I throw it and let them have the ball in their hands.”
Newsome-Johnson also returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, immediately after Foothill (3-4, 1-2) scored its lone touchdown on the evening via a 50-yard interception return by Marquies Jerkins.
Silverado also had a 25-yard interception return by Pekelo Solomon, and a 10-yard rushing touchdown by Michael Guzman.
Before Hoapili helped get the passing game moving, the Skyhawks relied on Misipeka. The air attack wasn’t working, but the offensive line was, so the Skyhawks just kept pounding the ball on the ground. The team averaged 4.95 yards per rush, with Misipeka accounting for a 52-yard touchdown and 170 yards on 27 carries.
“I ran him that many times?” Cunningham said. “Not next week though. We’re going to throw the ball every play next week.”
While Cunningham was being hyperbolic, it will be interesting to see how the Skyhawks play next week against No. 2 Liberty. Misipeka has been their bell cow, but they run the risk of wearing him down before the postseason. Quarterback Carson Loosbrock struggled Thursday, and Cunningham said he did not want to go Hoapili against the Patriots.
Whether he plays next week or not, it appears that Silverado found its quarterback of the future.
“One of the things I don’t want to do is rush young quarterbacks,” Cunningham said. “I’ve just been grooming him slowly but surely.”
Justin Emerson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @J15Emerson