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Prep Football Preview Special
Brandon Ching | ScoringLiveNovember 12, 2023, 6:23am
Sat, Nov 11, 2023 @ Kaiser [ 7:00 pm ]
HAWAII KAI—Kalihi still belongs to the Governors.
No. 14 Farrington rallied from an early deficit and scored in all three phases to roll past their cross-street counterparts and No. 12 Damien, 48-26, in the first round of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division I Football State Championships at Kaiser Stadium.
The Govs (7-3 overall) rolled up 428 yards of total offense, 341 of them on the ground and the defense scored 27 points off turnovers and sets up a OIA championship rematch with Waipahu (6-4 overall) which ironically won, 48-26.
"We have to fix our mistakes from that Waipahu game. I think if we do that, hopefully it's a different ball game. We got our work cut out for us. Waipahu is a great team, so we have to get back to work on Monday, game plan and hopefully we can execute the game plan and get out of there," Farrington coach Daniel Sanchez said.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18 at the Masa Yonamine Athletic Complex.
Sitani Mikaele carried the ball 29 times for 205 yards and a pair of two point runs and Jacob Talamoa had 236 all-purpose yards for three touchdowns.
"Jacob is a huge weapon for us. He's probably one of the fastest guys on the field. He has to continue to stay focused and keep making plays for us," Sanchez said.
The ILH champion Monarchs reached the state tournament for the first time since 2017, but their season concludes at 8-4 overall.
"We're very young. I hope we can use this momentum. Take this in, take it all in and build from this. I'm very proud of my kids. From two years ago maybe winning one or two games, to last year so close to beating Iolani, and now. The progression we're making, I'm very happy. Now we can use this and I hope these young bucks can be able to take it in the offseason and use it as motivation and have a wonderful offseason,"Damien coach Anthony Tuitele said.
Damien carried over its quick-strike offense and their opening drive resulted in Dayton Savea's 12-yard touchdown catch down the seam from AJ Tuifua to complete a four-play, 60-yard drive.
Maka Maiava intercepted MJ Moreno and got to the red zone in seven plays, but Everest Rodriguez intercepted Tuifua for a state-record, 98-yard interception return. Talamoa's kick was no good as Farrington trailed, 7-6.
"To me it's a learning lesson from this opportunity. I have to give it off to Farrington, we knew they were going to come in with smash-mouth football. Growing pains," Tuitele said.
The Monarchs responded with a eight-play, 75-yard drive and Savea hauled in a 27-yard touchdown from Tuifua for a 14-6 lead with 1:57 left in the first quarter.
Farrington's defense feasted on turnovers and got 27 points off those turnovers.
The Govs took over on a short field and drove down to the 1, but Mikaele fumbled the ball into the end zone and Pono Sales recovered it.
The Monarchs gave it right back as Anelu Lafaele strip sacked Tuifua and Heimana Richmond took the fumble back 14 yards. Mikaele's run tied the game at 14.
"We didn't execute when we needed to execute. The game plan was to keep them one dimensional, which is pass the ball. We were almost there until the pick-six. The turnovers were key. We scored the first two scores and it got to us," Tuitele said.
"Definitely," said Sanchez on the momentum shift. "Sometimes offensively we have late, slow starts. We have to do a better job getting faster starts and holding onto the ball. We have to fix that."
Farrington's defense forced a punt and their offense mixed up the pass and the run. Mikaele carried the ball four times for 12 yards and Moreno went 3 for 4 for 50 yards and his 28-yard touchdown went to Chansen Smith and Mikaele plowed ahead for two for a 22-14 lead.
Moreno threw for 87 yards on 5-of-13 passing.
"I though MJ did good. He threw some passes and he's controlling the game for us well. There are reads he can do better, but for the most part he's controlling the offense for us," Sanchez said.
The Govs took over with 22 seconds left at the Damien 29. Talamoa's 35-yard field goal attempt went wide left as Farrington held an eight point lead at halftime.
Talamoa redeemed himself as he opened the third quarter with a 82-yard kickoff return that took 12 seconds off the clock. The kick was blocked for a 28-14 lead.
"I bounced back and kept on working. I thank my team. It's the teamwork that helped me," Talamoa said.
"Second half when we returned that kick off, that set the tone for the second half. The defense gave us four or five turnovers, two scores offensively that allowed us to run out the clock and play Farrington football," Sanchez said.
Tuifua completed 21 of his 42 pass attempts for 262 yards and four touchdowns, three went to Savea, but was picked off four times in the season-ending defeat.
"That's a hell of a job by the defensive staff. They made the right adjustments and put the kids in position to make plays. That's all you can ask for," Sanchez said.
Willis Lilly and Rodrguez each had a pair of interceptions and Lilly's first pick set up a eight-play, 65 yard drive capped by Ikaika Kuaana-Lacno's 14-yard rushing score.
Rodriguez's interception set up Talamoa's 33-yard touchdown catch and he put through the kick to complete a 19-point quarter and Farrington went up, 41-14.
He had a 53-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
"I want to thank my o-line, I love when I run. I get out there and make plays," Talamoa said.
Sylas Alaimalo was held to a season-low 39 rushing yards on 14 carries but caught a 28-yard touchdown pass in the fourth.
Savea finished with a game-high eight catches for 121 yards and caught his third and final touchdown from 12 yards out.
Kilinahe Aki had nine total tackles and two sacks, Lafaele had three tackle for losses, two were sacks and Rodriguez added six total tackles for the Govs defense.
Tyven Self-Gomes-Kealakai had eight solo tackles, Micah Neizman, Sales, and Shason Tomisa each had fumble recoveries for the Monarchs.
Farrington last played Damien in the 2007 preseason.
The Govs last qualified the state tournament back in 2016 when it was in the Open Division. It picked up its first opening round win since 2014, a 22-6 win over Maui back when it was the two division set up.
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