— ADVERTISEMENT —
[ HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ]
Leilehua knocks off Kahuku
A funny thing happened to the Kahuku Red Raiders last night.
Leilehua advanced to next week's First Hawaiian Bank State Football Championships Division I title game by rattling the Red Raiders 17-14 at Aloha Stadium in one of the biggest upsets in recent Hawaii high school history.
Kahuku (10-2) held the No. 1 spot in the Star-Bulletin Top 10 poll throughout the year and was trying for its fourth state title in the past five seasons.
But the Mules (11-2), building on the momentum they gained in a 12-6 loss to the Red Raiders in the Oahu Interscholastic Association semifinals earlier this month, never caved in. They'll play Kamehameha in Friday's championship meeting.
Surprisingly, Leilehua had a 10-0 lead before Kahuku touched the ball.
"We wanted to score first and then try an onside kick to catch them off-guard," Mules coach Nolan Tokuda said. "Nobody does that to Kahuku."
But Leilehua did. After Ryan Bibilone's 35-yard field goal on the game's first possession, his onside kick bounded more than the prescribed 10 yards and right into the hands of the Mules' Charles Sanchez.
Four plays later, quarterback Bryant Moniz threw a dart to Chustin Senas in the right corner of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown and 10-0 lead.
"This is the most fun I've had with my clothes on, and I know the school administration is probably going to kill me for saying that," Tokuda said to his fired-up team in the locker room after the game.
Leilehua assistant coach Jon Morikawa broke down in tears while addressing the team. Most players were hooting it up and others were joyfully crying, giving high-fives and pats on the back.
"This is what we imagined from Day 1," said Moniz, who completed 19 of 35 passes for 176 yards. "We pictured it and this is what we got."
"You visualized it and you watched them count down 3, 2, 1," Kurisu told the players. "You saw what it was like. It happened on the video and it happened now. We shocked the world, man."
Kahuku went 23 straight games against Hawaii competition without a loss. The Red Raiders' last setback in Hawaii (they lost this season's opener against Skyline in Utah) came in the 2002 OIA playoffs against Farrington.
"They (the Mules) deserve every bit of it," Kahuku coach Siuaki Livai said. "They played two great games against us. They're great football players and coaches and their program is coming up good.
"We get comfortable all the time. It took awhile before the players realized that, hey, this is getting late. Leilehua stopped our running game and they mixed it up on defense."
The sixth-ranked Mules held Kahuku to 177 rushing yards.
"We got beat, but we played with heart to the end," Red Raiders center Desmond Enesa said. "The main thing is that people expect so much out of us, but what can you say? They came out on top. We had trouble with communication on offense. We weren't talking together as one."
Tomasi Fuller's interception set up Kahuku's first score, Siaosi Lauhingoa's 8-yard run early in the second quarter, to cut the gap to 10-6.
Leilehua's defense came up huge, stopping Kahuku at the Mules' 9 with 1:51 remaining before halftime.
Another Leilehua defensive stop killed the Red Raiders' hopes of a successful comeback. With 9:13 left in the game, Kahuku had a first-and-goal situation from the 10 and couldn't crack into the end zone on four plays. On fourth down from the 2, Mules lineman Aviata Faaloua brought down Malosi Te'o at the 1.
Bronson Ponciano-Ahue's 25-yard TD pass to Redmond Tutor and Spencer Hafoka's flea-flicker 2-point pass to Ponciano-Ahue trimmed the Kahuku deficit to 17-14 with 3:15 remaining.
But the Red Raiders never got the ball back as Leilehua converted two first downs to run out the clock.
Next week's title game will be the first without either Saint Louis or Kahuku as a representative in six years of state-tournament play. The Crusaders failed to win the Interscholastic League of Honolulu for the first time since 1985. The Oahu Prep Bowl, which preceded the state tournament as the unofficial state championship, also had at least one of those two teams in it all the way back to 1985, when Pac-Five beat Waianae for the title.
Leilehua, which is making its first state-tourney appearance after placing third in the OIA, won the 1984 Prep Bowl with a 10-0 victory over Saint Louis.
"We came out and played football," Tokuda said. "We weren't intimidated at all."
— ADVERTISEMENTS —
— ADVERTISEMENTS —
BACK TO TOP