ILH Football
No. 12 Iolani rolls past Damien to clinch state berth


  



Fri, Sep 24, 2021 @ Iolani [ 3:15 pm ]


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ALA WAI — A big second quarter propelled No. 12 Iolani past Damien, 38-0, on their Homecoming and Senior Day at Eddie Hamada Field Friday.

The Raiders improved to 5-0 overall and clinch the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I title and a coveted state berth to the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships in December.

"To be able to get these games in, that was a challenge itself. You have to give credit to the kids, their families and the school administration for the protocols and standards that were set. It's ingrained in these kids already to be smart as you can and do what's best and what's right to have a season," Iolani coach Wendell Look said.

"We're grateful for the opportunity and we made the most of it. You never know, this could be your last game due to COVID. Take every game like it's your last and play your heart out and I think we did a great job today. This is a young team. This senior class, we were sophomores when we made it to the state championship. We know what it takes to get back there. We have to teach the young guys and take it week by week," senior Stirling Sakashita said.

The Monarchs dropped their second game in a row to fall to 2-3 overall.

For the first time this season, spectators were cheering from the stands at Kozuki Stadium. Parents of Damien and Iolani seniors, with proof of vaccination, were allowed to attend and celebrate the moment.

"A lot of cooperation from everybody. Our administration done a great job keeping our campus safe. We want to try and bring some normalcy back to these kids lives. This is a small step towards it. Not only our kids, but Damien's kids too. They appreciated it," said Look, who is the ILH Football Coordinator.

Each of the Raiders' 12 seniors and the Monarchs' 10 seniors were recognized following the game. Parents met the players on the field to present leis and take pictures.

"There's a lot of things that motivates these kids nowadays. It's a learning experience for them that their parents have sacrificed a lot for them and this is a way of showing their appreciation and they can reciprocate by playing a heck of a game," Look said.

After a minus-6 yard punt that landed on the Damien 24, Iolani found the end zone six plays later capped by Brody Bantolina's 6-yard rushing touchdown for a 7-0 lead.

The Raiders erupted for 24 points in the second quarter and never looked back. Nalu Chinen-Zablan who doubled up as the punter was dropped for a loss and the Raiders took over on a short field. The Monarchs forced a 25-yard field goal from Allison Chang, but was called for roughing the kicker. After a new set of downs, Bantolina rushed for his second touchdown, this time for 3 yards to make it, 14-0.

Bantolina had 70 rushing yards on 16 carries in the first half.

Iolani stopped Damien short from covering a fourth down and their eight-play offensive drive resulted in a 25-yard field goal from Chang, who went 1 for 2 on the afternoon and 5 for 5 on extra points.

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The Raiders turned Brayden Morioka's interception into points after Micah Hoomanawanui threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Nela Taliauli. Two plays later, Brayden took his second interception to the house for the final score of the first half.

Keao Miyahira rushed for 84 yards on eight carries in the second half and scored on a 17-yard touchdown to send the game into running clock.

Damien had 50 yards of net offense (50 yards passing, 0 yards rushing) and got into Iolani territory late in the fourth quarter, but Bronson Morioka hauled in the third interception of the afternoon to end the momentum.

"We preached to stop the run and force the pass, that was the game plan. Coach Del's (Delbert Tengan) defensive scheme should hold them. We flew around and made tackles. It wasn't our cleanest game I'd say, but we're getting better," Sakashita said.

Jayce JBoy Pedro led Damien's defense with two sacks and Kamalii Labanon and Sylas Alaimalo each broke up passes.

Iolani concludes the ILH regular season on Friday, Oct. 1 with another home game against Saint Louis II.

"This Saint Louis team is a going to be a challenge. They're talented, they have size and depth. So we're going to have to count on our experiences from our past five games and build from there. These kids showed a lot of resilience and determination and hopefully we give them a good game," Look said.

Damien faces PAC-5 to wrap up the ILH season at Aloha Stadium at 5 PM.



Reach Brandon Ching at [email protected].




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