HHSAA Football
Waimea holds off Roosevelt to return to D2 title game


Sat, Nov 18, 2023 @ Hanapepe Stadium [ 1:00 pm ]

Final 1 2 3 4 T
Roosevelt (9-4-0) 0 10 0 010
Waimea (4-5-0) 3 0 7 313

HANAPEPE, Kauai—Waimea will have a chance to defend its title after holding off Roosevelt, 13-10, in the semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division II Football State Championships at Hanapepe Stadium.

"It's humongous. It's big for our island. Having us and Kapaa doing well in D1, it gets people looking over here at some of our athletes to give them a shot to get off this rock and do something. That's the biggest part of it. As far as our community, they're going to travel well and we're proud we can be a part of it and our community has been waiting a long time for something to cheer about and we're glad we're a part of it," Waimea coach Kyle Linoz said.

Menehune set up an all-neighbor island final against Kamehameha-Maui (7-1 overall) at Mililani's John Kauinana Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 4 p.m.

It will be a third consecutive year the KIF meet MIL in the title game. Last season, Menehune defeated King Kekaulike, 45-6 for its first title. KS-Maui reaches the title game for the first time since 2021 when it lost to Kapaa, 61-7.

Seven different players carried the ball as the Menehune (3-5 overall) gained all their offense on the ground for 234 net rushing yards and threw two passes the whole game.

"Our o-line is solid. Our o-line practices hard day-in-day-out and they are dawgs in the trenches," Senior running back Wesley "Kamu" Santiago said.

"Playing Roosevelt, that was our plan to come in with our power package and control the clock and lessen their offense so they're not out there as much, that was our plan. Not scoring wasn't our plan but controlling the clock and getting him the ball was part of what we wanted to do. It was enough, just enough," Linoz said.

Three players that were not on last year's championship team factored in the semifinal win. Santiago did not play last season, but led the seven-ball carrier attack with 19 carries for 90 yards.

"It feels great, I didn't have a chance to play last year. Being with these boys is a blessing. We really are a brotherhood. I didn't play last year, I was working, and put football on the side," Santiago said.

Shayden Ranis-Alameda Dela Cruz, in his first year on varsity, made 15 field goals and five extra points on the season and converted field goals in the first and fourth quarters.

"I was on JV last year. I never got this kind of experience until now. It's super different coming from JV to varsity," Ranis-Alameda Dela Cruz said.

Keona Tam was a JV call up and scored Menehune's only touchdown of the game with two carries for 4 yards and had six total tackles on defense.

"The scoring touchdown by Keona Tam, he was a call up from JV. He's an awesome athlete. Shayden struggled earlier during the season but he didn't show it today. He showed up and thank you Shayden, thank you," Linoz said.

Kameron Apilado had 11 carries for 73 yards and added seven tackles on defense.

Ezekiel Lomu ripped out the ball from Santiago's grasp and Maikolo Taetakua Thompson recovered the fumble to get the ball back for the Rough Riders.

"What was going through my mind was I was upset with myself that I fumbled since we were supposed to drive down and run out the clock. But I knew my boys got my back," Santiago said.

"He handled it well. The team rallied around him, no head down. We're moving on because of him, not because of that fumble. Our defense was lined up two-high and cross our fingers and let it ride," Linoz said.

Kamanao was sacked on the first play of the drive and Roosevelt called timeout. His pass intended for Souza-Armstead was long and Jayden Sablan broke up a pass to set up fourth down. Roosevelt turned it over on downs after a Mykah Brun broke up a pass intended for Davis.

"All week we was practicing no huddles and it was tiring for the boys on defense. They did a great job out here today. We were practicing pass defense, we didn't practice the runs. Our two-high safeties Kameron (Apilado) and Mykah (Brun), they're really good. That's what we did all week," Santiago said.

After offsetting unsportsmanlike penalties, the Menehune ran out the rest of the time on the clock.

"It feels really great. We played a hard game today. We battled all the way and feels just great to be back with the boys and playing football," Santiago said.

Shayden Ranis-Alameda Dela Cruz hit a 26-yard field goal to complete a 13-play, 53-yard drive to get Menehune on the scoreboard.

Roosevelt got down to the Waimea 2 on a 11-play, 66 yard drive and Journey DePeralta tied the game at 3 with a 28-yard field goal.

"The d-line just got enough pressure. They're (Roosevelt) awesome. A little inch here and a little inch there, they could've scored a few more touchdowns. I'm glad they were a little bit off today," Linoz said.

The Rough Riders got a stop on defense and Taimane Souza-Fautanu and Jahsiah Souza-Armstead caught passes of 14 and 18 yards on a drive that took 1:03. Keawe Davis caught a game-high six passes for 104 yards and hauled in a 33-yard touchdown from Ioane Kamanao four seconds before halftime for a 10-3 lead.

Kamanao finished with 285 yards on 23-of-34 passing without an interception in the season-ending defeat.

Keona Tam dove in for a 1-yard plunge to cap a 12-play drive that started on the Roosevelt 45 and Ranis-Alameda Dela Cruz's kick tied the game at 10 with 4:36 in the third quarter.

After a quick three-and-out, Waimea took advantage of a short field. Apilado rushed to the 25 and two plays later, settled for Ranis-Alameda Dela Cruz's 35-yard field goal with 10:29 to go in the fourth.

"We were practicing getting it down, telling my coach what I need to fix and with my foot stepping and drilling it. It was a normal kick, just practicing it and making it perfect," Ranis-Alameda Dela Cruz said.

Kamanao gained 15 yards and Souza-Fautanu caught a 9-yard pass. A holding penalty in the secondary nullified an interception. Three plays later, Kamanao connected with Souza-Armstead for a 28-yard pass. The Rough Riders lost six yards on the next three plays, but DePeralta's would-be tying 34-yard field goal attempt fell short.

Waimea ran the ball nine times on the next series for 62 yards before turning over to Roosevelt. Arakaki carried it three times for 24 yards, Apilado added 11 yards and Santiago carried it six-straight times before fumbling, giving the Rough Riders one last opportunity.

Luke Tuasivi had 11 total tackles, Nainoa Aguiar and Bobby Sousa each added eight tackles for the Rough Riders' defense.

Three of Waimea's four losses in KIF play came against Kapaa, who lost to defending state champ Konawaena, 37-19, in the Division I semifinals.

Rough Riders was seeking its first title game appearance in school history.

Reach Brandon Ching at [email protected].

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