HHSAA Football
Waimea wins first-ever state title in dominating fashion


Sat, Nov 26, 2022 @ Mililani [ 4:00 pm ]

Final 1 2 3 4 T
Waimea (9-2-0) 10 7 14 1445
Kekaulike (5-7-0) 0 6 0 06

MILILANI — West side, best side.

Waimea took home its first-ever state title state title in dominating fashion Saturday night with a 45-6 win over King Kekaulike in the First Hawaiian Bank Division II Football Championships at John Kauinana Stadium.

The Menehune got it done solely with the running game as all of their 443 yards of offense came on the ground. Kameron Apilado was the leading rusher in the contest with 11 carries for 228 yards and two touchdowns, which came on runs of 70 and 85 yards in the second half.

"To bring back a trophy to our school, this means everything. It feels amazing," said Apilado. "Thanks to all the community out there for supporting us, coming to every game, cheering for all of us and helping us bring back the trophy to Waimea High School."

Waimea, who was making its first state tournament appearance since 2003, also had a strong showing of support from its many fans that made the trip over from the Garden Isle.

"It was great. Our kids were chicken skin when they saw how much people were here," said Waimea coach Kyle Linoz.

"Everybody came. Airplanes, boats, whatever they could catch to get over here. This is the topping on the cake. This is all of our families right here believe it or not. We're all related somehow up in the stands."

The Menehune gave them plenty to cheer about as they forced a three-and-out to start the game and got a 22-yard field goal from Haweo Akeo on its opening series. They then followed that up with a 31-yard scoop-and-score by Mykah Brun to take a quick 10-0 lead.

Na Alii would go on to score on the next series thanks to a lengthy drive that saw two fourth down conversions and Kekaulike's lone pass completion, but Waimea scored 35 straight unanswered points the rest of the way to bring home the Kauai Interscholastic Federation's second straight championship after Kapaa won it last year.

In a game that featured two run-heavy teams that used multiple backs and tight end sets to get to the championship, Waimea threw a curve ball and came out in a spread package to start the game.

Apilado, who regularly plays in the defensive secondary, got the call to start behind center and operated as the triggerman for most of the game. The Menehune did mix in their under-center formations, but most of their damage came on from shotgun sets with two receivers to each side.

Kekaulike coach Tyson Valle admitted that his team wasn't ready to see Waimea's spread formation early in the game.

"It caught us off guard real quick. We weren't expecting that at all, but for us, we weren't expecting to see the spread right off the bat. They ran a spread, but they ran the ball, so it was interesting to see."

The game plan worked to great success as the Menehune ran for 443 yards on the ground for an average of 9.2 yards per rush. Aukai Emayo, the usual tailback in under-center formations, rushed for 83 yards and two TDs on 15 carries. Kaili Arakaki also added 53 yards and a TD just before the end of the first half to give Waimea a 17-6 lead at the break.

Kekaulike was limited to 189 yards of total offense in the loss. Na Alii's lone score came when Kalelepono Wong found Ahe Sumibcay for a 31-yard TD pass in the second quarter.

Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].

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