[ HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ]
over Castle, into
McKinley rolled into the Oahu Interscholastic Association football playoffs last night by pounding Castle 34-6 at the Roosevelt High School field.
It was do or die for both teams, but the Tigers (5-3, 4-3) proved harder to stop with an impressive balance of passing, running and heads-up defense. The defending league champion Knights (4-4, 3-4) won't be able to repeat their run to a second-place state tournament finish.
The Tigers, who avenged their triple-overtime state semifinal loss to Castle a year ago, visit Mililani (8-0, 7-0) in the first round of the postseason on Friday.
"This is the best game we've played this year by far," said McKinley clutch receiver Iakopo Taumua, who caught nine Abel Werner passes for 142 yards. "The defense came up big."
McKinley allowed Castle sophomore quarterback Bryce Kalauokaaea to complete 25 of 39 passes for 237 yards, but they also intercepted two of his passes and kept most of the receptions underneath coverage. McKinley didn't allow any points in the second half while intensifying the pressure on Kalauokaaea, who was sacked three times by Cheyenne Aiko in the final 24 minutes.
The 1-2 punch of McKinley running backs Quinton Sayers and Michael Vasconcellos combined for 176 yards, and they kept the clock moving and the ball out of the Knights' hands as much as possible.
"We faced a team that hit its stride tonight," Castle coach Nelson Maeda said. "They got on a little run with a bunch of early touchdowns and were able to control the game. They ran the ball effectively with some nice cuts, and Abel got great protection and threw great. I thought we were prepared to play them, but McKinley did a great job."
The Tigers wiped out an early 6-0 Castle lead by driving 80 yards for a 6-all tie as Werner snuck in from 1 yard out.
Daniel Desoto's interception, Sayers' 52-yard TD run and Werner's 2-point run put McKinley up for good, 14-6, late in the first quarter.
The mix of running and passing continued and the Tigers tacked on two more scores by halftime. Long runs by Sayers led to both touchdowns -- 1-yard runs by Werner and Sayers.
"We've got a pretty good chance now (in the postseason)," Sayers said. "We have a lot of confidence and think we can go all the way."
After a scoreless third quarter, Chris Quiocho capped the scoring midway through the fourth by hauling in Werner's 10-yard pass.
"In our last two games, our offense has really started to jell," McKinley first-year coach William Moeava said. "And the defense is really coming together. Hopefully it will give us a push in the playoffs."
Castle struck 3:06 into the game when Kalauokaaea hit a wide-open Brandon Shimomura for a 36-yard TD and a brief 6-0 lead.
"We just didn't play our game," said Castle's Keoni Gomes, who got in for three of the Knights' five sacks on Werner. "We tried our best, but it wasn't enough."
At Roosevelt H.S. field
Cas -- Brandon Shimomura 36 pass from Bryce Kalauokaaea (run failed)
|Castle (4-4, 3-4)
|McKinley (5-3, 4-3)
McK -- Abel Werner 1 run (kick failed)
McK -- Quinton Sayers 52 run (Werner run)
McK -- Werner 1 run (Sione Liufau kick)
McK -- Sayers 1 run (Liufau kick)
McK -- Chris Quiocho 10 pass from Werner (run failed)
RUSHING -- Castle: Guy Humalon 1-4, Damon Reames 3-2, Kalauokaaea 5-(-12). McKinley: Sayers 9-114, Michael Vasconcellos 14-62, Werner 17-(-15).
PASSING -- Castle: Kalauokaaea 25-39-2-237. McKinley: Werner 16-24-0-251.
RECEIVING -- Castle: Shimomura 4-73, Jarred Suzui 4-54, Ikaika Ho 6-23, Ethan Gonsalves 3-38, Joe Park 2-18, Junior Mansanas 3-16, Robin Smith 2-15, Reames 1-0. McKinley: Iakopo Taumua 9-142, Vasconcellos 4-81, Sayers 2-18, Quiocho 1-10.
Junior varsity -- Castle 36, McKinley 0