HHSAA Football
Hilo roars past Damien, 35-19, for first state football title


   



Sat, Nov 18, 2017 @ Aloha Stadium [ 5:00 pm ]


Final 1 2 3 4 T
DMS (10-4-0) 13 0 6 019
HILO (10-1-0) 7 14 7 735

HALAWA — This one was for the Big Island.

Hilo rallied from an early first quarter deficit to roar past Damien, 35-19, in the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division I State Football Championships at Hawaiian Tel FCU Field at Aloha Stadium.

"It's a great feeling. This is for the Big Island and for Hilo and all the schools on the Big Island. We made history," said Hilo quarterback Kaleo Apao.

The Vikings (10-1 overall) won their first state tournament game after beating Maui, 26-7, to get there and iced the season with their program's first-ever football title. Hilo scheduled an early season trip to Oahu to see where it stood, and it resulted in a 62-35 rout of Iolani.

"It was a long journey. I tell the kids we have to enjoy it. Sometimes I don't allow them to or I don't enjoy it. Now we can go back and put our feet up and enjoy it for a bit before we go back to work," said Hilo coach Kaeo Drummondo.

"It made us want to push more and to work harder each day," said running back Kahale Huddleston, following their state tournament win.

Damien (10-4 overall) appeared in the Division II state championship game back in 2003. The three-time defending Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division II champions were up for the challenge and declared for the Division I state tournament.

"It was tough. We're proud of our kids. We were happy to be here, but at the same time, our ultimate goal was to win this game. Hats off to Hilo, and Kaeo (Drummondo) did a great job with their team. We came up short for everybody, but at the end of the day, we had a great season," said Damien coach Eddie Klaneski.

Apao threw for 134 yards on 8-of-13 passing for two touchdowns and added 98 rushing yards and another score on 20 attempts.

Huddleston rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns on 19 attempts to finish with 145 all-purpose yards.

"They did a spectacular job. They did everything we asked them to do. For them to get positive yards and getting the offense going and move the ball, that's all we can ask them to do," Drummondo said on Huddleston and Apao.

Logan Lauti caught the opening kickoff then gave it to Akila Arecchi who took it for 96 yards to the house, but Shiloh Kaeo missed the PAT for a 6-0 lead.

"Not panic," said Drummondo, on Damien's early scores. "It was a special teams touchdown and we did things wrong. We didn't stay in our lanes and we didn't tackle. We had to pick it up."

Damien's defense held firm to force the Vikings to punt. The Monarchs answered with an 11-play, 74 yard drive capped by Marcus Faufata-Pedrina's 1-yard sneak up the middle for a 13-0 lead. Faufata-Pedrina was 4 of 5 for 52 yards on the Monarchs' opening drive.

Huddleston caught a 33-yard pass to extend the Hilo drive and later Apao gained 21 yards on the ground. Two plays later Huddleston rushed for a 20-yard touchdown.

"It feels great. We wanted to work hard and make history to put Hilo on the map," said Huddleston. "The offensive line pushed through for the 'W.' We went through this before and we kept pushing and moving the ball downfield."

After a Damien punt, Apao and Huddleston worked the Vikings down field and Huddleston added his second rushing touchdown of the night. Kahaku Toletino-Perry added the PAT to reclaim the lead, 14-13.

"The mindset was to stay in our game and play our game. We had to keep our head in the game and finish," said Apao.

"We made mistakes offensively and defensively to let them get back into the game. We couldn't keep contain on their quarterback and running back. They did a great job and had some speedy guys," said Klaneski.

Hilo padded the lead with a four-play, 67-yard drive that took two minutes, and this time it was Apao's turn to get into the end zone for a 22-yard run to give the Vikings a 21-13 that held until halftime.

The Monarchs trailed going into halftime for the sixth time this season.

Damien faced a fourth-and-10 on the Hilo 46, but out of a punt formation, Marcus Faufata-Pedrina completed a 12-yard pass to Pomai Kim. Faufata-Pedrina threw a 19-yard score to Jarvis Natividad, but after trying to fake the PAT kick attempt, the run failed, making it, 21-19.

"We had some stops and didn't capitalize. We got the game within a score but made too many mistakes at the end," said Klaneski.

Faufata-Pedrina threw for 172 yards on 15-of-32 passing, one touchdown and one interception.

"He was hard and fast to take down. We had to be disciplined and we studied him all week," Hilo linebacker Iosala Lavatai said on containing Faufata-Pedrina.

The Vikings answered back 12 plays, 57 yards later after Apao found a wide-open Kainalu Tioganco for a 5-yard touchdown for a two-score lead, 28-19.

Following Micah Bello's forced fumble and Lavatai's recovery, Apao lobbed a 21-yard score to Makana Kanehailua for a 35-19 lead to pull away for good.

"Those were huge game changers. They were rolling the ball downfield and to get a turnover was huge," said Lavatai.

Bello recorded a game-high 11 tackles and had a forced fumble to lead the Viking defense.

"We always talk that the defensive will always win the game. We needed those stops and turnovers in those moments and it came up with them," said Drummondo.

Kaeo led Damien with 15 tackles — one for a loss — as the Monarchs had five tackle-for-losses in the game. Arecchi added nine more and finished with 174 all-purpose yards.



Reach Brandon Ching at [email protected].


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