Recruiting news and information on our MIL student-athletes
Ewaliko's impressive numbers rank No. 1 all-time
By RODNEY S. YAP / HIsportsfolio.com
WAILUKU — If statistics are the measuring stick that defines an athlete, Keelan Ewaliko is breaking barriers.
As the Baldwin High School quarterback prepares to take his act to Oahu, where the Bears will face ILH powerhouse Punahou, the state's biggest prep football stage is set for a doubleheader semifinal showdown in Halawa. Thanks to OC16 Sports, a statewide audience got to see the playmaking abilities of Ewaliko, and visiting Farrington got to experience first-hand what teams in the Maui Interscholastic League have been dealing with for the last two seasons.
The secret is out, Ewaliko is a special multi-talented athlete with a passion for running and throwing the football better than almost any other skilled-position player in the 50th state. With his second straight MIL Offensive Player of the Year honor forthcoming, the 5-foot, 11-inch, 175-pound junior, could become the Valley Isle's first three-time MIL Player of the Year this time next year.
Perhaps the most remarkable feat Ewaliko accomplished in 2011 is a rare triple-crown achievement he earned for claiming the league's scoring, passing and rushing titles in the same season. Baldwin's Hinano Kaumeheiwa dominated all three categories in 1960, 51 years ago, and no one else has come close in 88 years of playing tackle football here.
I recall former Maui News sports writer Wayne Tanaka speaking highly of Kaumeheiwa and his duel-threat abilities when reflecting on the talent from yesteryear. I never doubted Tanaka's assessment of Kaumeheiwa, particularly after digesting the numbers he put up at the Old Kahului Fairgrounds. Because a quarterback's job description puts a priority on the pass, running the ball was usually left to the team's running backs. The same holds true today, making Ewaliko's modern-day feat all the more memorable.
The graphics on this page illustrated a numerical comparison between Ewaliko and Kaumeheiwa, and Maui High's Alika Fuentes from the 1989 season. Among the common denominators surrounding all three athletes are versatility, imagination, fearlessness, courage, peripheral vision, and exceptional feel for the game. Having covered Fuentes' career and many others during my 20-year stint at The Maui News, I have never seen an athlete with Ewaliko's ability to keep his balance while under pursuit and pressure.
A champion bull rider during the offseason, Ewaliko finished Baldwin's eight-game season with 810 yards rushing on 88 carries, for a whopping 9.2-yards-per carry. He also threw from 921 yards, completing 69 of 158 pass attempts. His 12 rushing touchdowns accounted for a league best 72 points, leaving him tied with teammate Kina Malafu for the scoring title.
To give you an example of Fuentes' talent level, his junior season (1988), the 5-foot-6, 140-pounder led the league in receiving with 21 catches for 325 yards (15.4 avg.).
In 1960, Baldwin High School's Hinano Kaumeheiwa gained 1,086 total yards in a six-game season. His "do-all" feats saw Kaumeheiwa lead all rushers with 507 yards in 68 carries (7.5 yards per carry), top the passing department with 53 completions in 79 passing attempts (68 percent completion rate) for 579 yards and emerged the leading scorer with 52 points. Kaumeheiwa's marks remain among the all-time best for a six-game season.
In addition, Ewaliko averaged 217 yards in total offense per game compared to the 181 yards Kaumeheiwa averaged in his six-game schedule. Fuentes averaged 156 yards.
Of course, whenever we compare MIL talent at the quarterback position the name Ray Wilhelm automatically surfaces. The late great quarterback from Baldwin finished his three-year ('91-'93) career with 2,123 yards passing, leading the Bears to back-to-back Neighbor Island Football Championships in 1992-1993. With Wilhelm behind center, Baldwin won 78 percent (21-6 overall) of the time.
A two-time all-state player, Wilhelm led the league in passing his sophomore and junior seasons, but as a senior he finished second to the St. Anthony's record-setting passer John Converse. The Trojan signal-caller threw for a mind-bending 1,038 yards in a six-game season. The previous best single-season mark was 818 yards set in 1987 by Maui High's Jeremy Jarnesky. Wilhelm also eclipsed Jarnesky's total with 855 yards.
Wilhelm's individual accomplishments his junior year were overshadowed by Aaron Bascon, Maui High's phenomenal running back who rolled up 1,043 yards. In 1992, Bascon averaged 174 yards per game and 8.3 yards per carry. He also won the scoring title, falling short of the century mark with 96 points (16 TDs).
As a result of the two 1,000-yard-plus performances, Wilhelm managed to win only one individual category each year (passing, '91; passing, '92; scoring '93). However, when you add Wilhelm's passing and rushing yardage in 1993, his senior year, the multi-talented athlete managed 1,013 total yards — for a remarkable 169 yards per game.