HHSAA Football
Kapaa thwarts Kaimuki to return to title game


Sat, Nov 17, 2018 @ Vidinha Stadium [ 2:00 pm ]

Final 1 2 3 4 T
KAIM (10-3-0) 0 6 6 012
KAPA (7-3-0) 0 7 7 620

LIHUE, Kauai — No. 15 Kapaa staved off Kaimuki's comeback bid to win, 20-12, in the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division II Football State Championships semifinals at Vidinha Stadium.

The Warriors (7-2 overall) ride a six-game winning streak to reach the title game for the first time since 2016 and will take on two-time defending state champion Lahainaluna at 1:30 pm at Aloha Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 24.

"I'm happy for the team and community and we're just getting started and we're happy to live in the moment right now," Kapaa quarterback Kahanu Davis said.

The Lunas won the season opener, 30-10, back on Aug. 4.

"Our next game is not going to be easy. It's going to be the two best teams playing it out for the D2 championship," Kapaa linebacker Raffy Perono said.

Kapaa rushed for 177 yards and three different ball carriers scored touchdowns. Baba Nao led the way with 91 rush yards, Ryno Banasihan added 73 yards, and Kahanu Davis with 19 yards.

The Bulldogs called their final timeout and converted a fourth down with an 11-yard pass from Jonah Faasoa to Koby Moananu to the Warrior 36. Stetson Telles-Kelekoma intercepted Faasoa, but a personal foul penalty on Kapaa gave the ball back to Kaimuki on the 21. Faasoa threw two-straight incompletions and Telles-Kelekoma had the game-sealing interception late in the fourth quarter to end Kaimuki's last chance to tie the game.

"He got the first one but then the penalty so it was deflating, but he makes the big play a couple plays later and seals the game for us. That's Stetson, he's been working hard all year," Kapaa coach Philip Rapozo said of Telles-Kelekoma.

"We came back and bent, but didn't break," Perono said after recording seven tackles for the game.

Kaimuki's Sama Paama suffered a leg injury on the interception return and Perono was also injured on the play. Kapaa ran out the remaining seconds with a knee to end the game.

The Bulldogs, who tried to pull off another win in the final minute for the second-straight week, end their season at 9-4 overall.

Naomas Asuega-Fualaau rushed for a 3-yard touchdown to cap a 18-play, 70 yard drive that took over 9 minutes of clock, but the kick was blocked for a 6-0 lead.

Kapaa responded with a scoring drive of their own all on the ground. Davis was sacked for an 18-yard loss by Hunter Mulu to make it third-and-26. On the next play, Banasihan evaded Kaimuki defenders en route to a 50-yard touchdown and Chysen Lagunes-Rapozo put through the PAT for a 7-6 lead.

After Alex Lemalu's interception, the Bulldogs took over on the Kapaa 45. Asuega-Fualaau gained 25 yards four plays into the drive that set up Elijah Lemalu's 2-yard rushing touchdown, but Asuega-Fualaau was tackled short on the PAT try as Kaimuki led, 12-7.

"This team is really resilient," Rapozo said. "Everybody stuck together and kept working."

Elijah Lemalu rushed for 93 yards on nine carries and Asuega-Fualaau had 52 rushing yards on 14 attempts.

The Warriors retook the lead as Davis completed a 54-yard pass to Lanakila Pagtolingan and after Nao was dropped for a 2-yard loss by Paama, Davis ran it in from 9 yards out and Lagunes-Rapozo connected on the kick to make it, 14-12.

"We had to be patient and keep fighting. That was a well-coached team, they're athletic and it was a fight," Rapozo said of Kaimuki.

Kesomi Fonua intercepted Faasoa and faced with a third-and-6, Davis converted a first down with a 1-yard sneak with 2:14 remaining. After the new set of downs and three plays later, Nao rushed for a 31-yard touchdown, but Kaimuki blocked the PAT to trail by eight, 20-12, to give themselves one last chance.

"It's good to know the defense had our back and the offense had the defense's back and it was a team effort and we pulled away and it was a big boost," Davis said.

Kaulana Kaluna, Jr. led the Bulldogs with seven tackles, Paama had five tackles, three were for losses, and KJ Narvaez had a fumble recovery.

Heath Rosa also had seven tackles and the other interception, Telles-Kelekoma had 6 1/2 tackles, and Raphee Khae-Chawat and Kellen Ibaan-McCarthy each had five tackles.

"Both defenses bent, but didn't break. It was about which way the ball was going to fall. We were lucky to come out with the win today," Rapozo said.

Kaimuki was seeking their first title game appearance since 2010. The Bulldogs outgained the Warriors in offensive yards 356 to 262. 

Kapaa aims for their first-ever state title after making back-to-back title game appearances in 2015 and 2016.

Reach Brandon Ching at [email protected].




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