[ HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ]
by beating Kapolei
Whatever fates conspired to keep Damien out of the state tournament for two decades couldn't prevent it from winning a state tournament game last night at Aiea.
The Monarchs turned the ball over twice but beat Kapolei 20-14 in the first round of the Division II First Hawaiian Bank State Football Championships. Damien overcame a pair of bad mistakes with a stifling defense and Ranson DeCosta.
DeCosta scored on the Monarchs' first drive and slashed for a career-high 219 yards on 23 carries to keep the ball out of the hands of the previously explosive Kapolei offense. The Hurricanes, who finish their season at 9-2 after winning their first nine games, only managed 62 yards of offense before their final drive and were forced to punt six straight times. The 4-5 Monarchs travel to Kauai to take on Waimea in the second round.
Damien won the game where all coaches profess to win their games -- in the trenches. While DeCosta had enough room to dominate on the ground, the Monarchs' defensive line sacked Kapolei quarterbacks six times and gave the Hurricanes no room to run.
"We knew we had to get pressure up front or we would be in deep kim-chee," Damien co-head coach Rudy Alejo said. "We had specific assignments, but mostly we wanted to let them stay in front of us."
The Monarchs' first mistake came on their second offensive series, when Kapolei defensive back E.B. Fernandez provided the yardage that his offense couldn't on Kapolei's second possession, jumping a simple slant route and running it back 42 yards inside the 5-yard line before DeCosta tripped him up. Kapolei had an easy time from there, tying the game at 7 when quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada waltzed in for the score and Kerisiano Tuaniga added the extra point. Their second mistake was a 54-yard pass that slot receiver Andrew Canoy fumbled out of the end zone from the 2-yard line.
"Whenever we would make mistakes we would go to the seniors and tell them that we have got to step it up," Alejo said. "We have been fighting for respect all season long and we knew we were a good ballclub."
Kapolei would not be heard from again until there was less than two minutes remaining.
Up 20-7 going into the third quarter, the Monarchs ran DeCosta six times in a 16-play drive that ended inside the Kapolei 5-yard line. But the yardage didn't matter as much as the 6 minutes, 45 seconds they were able to run off the clock. Kapolei answered with a 14-play drive that didn't end until Chaves Gamboa scored with 1:28 left. Damien recovered the onside kick to seal the game and win a date with Waimea on Kauai in a second-round game Friday.
"It just gets tougher all the time," Alejo said.
Damien took Kapolei's momentum right back on the next possession, marching 61 yards -- jump-started with a 49-yard run by DeCosta -- before seeming to stall at the 28. Instead of calling on the kicker in the fourth-and-7 situation, Damien took a page out of the Hurricanes' playbook.
Monarchs QB Tevita Williams saw Canoy one-on-one with a cornerback and lofted a pass to the corner of the end zone that Canoy easily collected over his shoulder. With Damien's defense, the gutsy call held up for the rest of the game.
"They played real hard and really did a job on us in the trenches," Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said. "They won the battle of the trenches, but we have nothing to be ashamed of. Our guys showed their hearts."
Dam -- Ranson DeCosta 14 run (Cory Mullen kick)
Kap -- Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada 3 run (Kerisiano Tuaniga kick)
Dam -- Andrew Canoy 28 pass from Tevita Williams (Mullen kick)
Dam -- DeCosta 35 run (Mullen kick failed)
Kap -- Chaves Gamboa 8 pass from Kaheaku-Enhada (Tuaniga kick)
Rushing: Damien: Ranson DeCosta 23-119, Va'a Faualo 5-13, Fehi Sevelo 1-8, Tevita Williams 4-4; Kapolei: Kaheaku-Enhada 9-15, Chaves Gamboa 1-10, Gilbert Brown 5-9, John Dela Rama 2-5, Colin Dumlao 1-0, Jonathan Medeiros 8-(-2).
Passing: Damien: Williams 11-25-156-1; Kapolei: Medeiros 8-14-103-0, Kaheaku-Enhada 5-9-36-0.
Receiving: Damien: Faualo 7-99, Andrew Canoy 4-58. Kapolei: Brandon Pieper 9-92, Gamboa 2-30, Charles Recamara 1-8, Dela Rama 1-1.