[ HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ]
Weather helps Waipahu
into title game
Feeling like he was back home in Hilo, Waipahu head coach Sean Saturnio didn't mind the rainy weather that turned Waipahu's football field into a mud bowl.
Krypton Taito rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Austen Benito added a 40-yard touchdown run as the Marauders (7-2) clinched a spot in the HHSAA Division II state tournament by defeating the Kaiser Cougars 28-6 last night in an Oahu Interscholastic Association White semifinal game at Waipahu.
Coming into the game, the Cougars (4-5) were averaging 210 passing yards and 366 total yards a game, but a mixture of the rain, mud and a physical Marauders defense held Kaiser to 105 total yards.
"The field conditions were a huge advantage to us," Saturnio said. "It really seemed to limit their playmakers in what they could do."
Cougars quarterback Shannon Wise, who finished second in the OIA White in rushing and passing, struggled all night with his footing and grip on the ball, and finished with only 74 total yards of offense, nearly 200 yards below his season average.
"It was very slippery out here," Taito said. "But I liked it."
It was evident from the first play of the game that the weather would play a significant role in the game as Wise's first pass slipped out of his hands and was badly underthrown, resulting in an interception by Marauders defensive back Ryan Winfree.
The Marauders took the ball down the field and scored on their first possession as Benito connected with Stan Abasial for a 31-yard touchdown throw that proved to be the only pass play of more than 10 yards in the game.
"Coming into the game, we figured that (Kaiser) was going to load up on the run, so the game plan was to try to throw the ball a bit more," Saturnio said. "But as I talked to (Cougars head coach David Maeva) before the game and looked at the field, we realized that we had to throw our game plans out the window."
With the Cougars struggling to find any rhythm on offense, the Marauders took advantage by scoring on three of their four offensive possessions in the first half. Benito took an option-keeper 40 yards for a score early in the second quarter, and then Taito broke a 62-yard touchdown run with 13 seconds left to give Waipahu a 22-0 halftime lead.
"We were able to keep their offense off the field, and in the end, we just went with what brought us to the dance," Saturnio said.
Trying to make any adjustments that might work, the Cougars opened the second half with senior Steven Pratt at quarterback and Wise at receiver. However, just as it happened with Wise, Pratt's first pass attempt slipped right out of his hands and was intercepted.
However, the Cougars did get a glimmer of hope as they managed to get on the board via an Isaac Saffrey 3-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 16. But the Marauders recovered the ensuing onside kick and Taito recorded his second touchdown of the game, a 42-yard run, to finish off Kaiser.
"Dave's my good buddy and I give them credit because they played so hard out there," Saturnio said. "It was a tough situation for them to be in, but you could see that they left everything they had on the field."
The win puts the Marauders into the OIA White championship game against Campbell on Nov. 12 at Aloha Stadium at 4:30 p.m.
Waipahu 28, Kaiser 6
At Waipahu H.S. Field
Waip-Stan Abasial 31 pass from Austen Benito (kick failed)
Waip-Benito 40 run (Krypton Taito run)
Waip-Taito 62 run (Winfree pass from Benito)
Kais-Isaac Saffrey 3 run (kick failed)
Waip-Taito 42 run (run failed)
RUSHING-Kaiser: Shannon Wise 12-49, Saffrey 11-25, Landon Kaaua 2-13, Steven Pratt 3-(-2), Nick Yuzawa 2-(-2), team 1-(-17). Waipahu: Taito 16-138, Benito 14-52, Abasial 5-27, Ben Ameperosa 1-3.
PASSING-Kaiser: Wise 4-7-1-25, Pratt 3-5-1-14, Kaaua 0-1-0-0. Waipahu: Benito 4-6-0-45.
RECEIVING-Kaiser: Kaaua 3-18, Ching 3-17, Steele Legros 1-4. Waipahu: Abasial 3-39, Anthony Vith 1-6.
Junior varsity-Aiea 27, Waipahu 6