[ HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ]
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kamehameha's Jayson Rego looked for room against Leilehua in the third quarter of last night's Division I football championship.
Warriors storm back
Pono Kam and Jayson Rego lead
Kamehameha to the state Division I
A dinged-up knee was enough to keep Pono Kam on the sideline, but when the Warriors needed a minor miracle, they turned to their dutiful senior.
Kam came off the bench to throw three touchdown passes, and Jayson Rego rambled for 212 yards on 39 carries as Kamehameha rallied past Leilehua 28-7 last night to win the Division I title in the First Hawaiian Bank State Football Championships.
A boisterous crowd of 17,757 watched on a blustery night at Aloha Stadium. Kamehameha captured its first state title, and its first postseason crown since beating Leilehua in the 1974 Prep Bowl. The Warriors closed the season 10-2-1.
Leilehua, the longshot squad that knocked out then-No. 1 Kahuku in the semifinals, finished 11-3.
"We wore them out. Our O-line was huge, and eventually, we got to them," said Kam, who tied a state-tournament record with the three touchdown passes. He shares the mark with Tim Chang.
Leilehua's stalwart defense kept Rego under some control early on, but he finally wore down the Mules' defense.
"It feels so good, I'm shaking," Rego said. "I'm speechless, but I'll remember this day for the rest of my life."
Kanani Souza, who waited years for a shot at the championship, was complimentary.
"You've gotta give credit to the entire program, from the intermediate on up," he said. "We're the recipients of what they started."
After stalling in Kamehameha territory, and then turning the ball over on an interception, the Mules got on the scoreboard early with their third possession of the game.
Leilehua drove 63 yards in eight plays to the end zone, overcoming a personal-foul penalty. Justin Lawelawe came up with three key receptions, including a play where he leaked out of pass protection and turned a short pass into a 33-yard gain. Moniz found Lawelawe, who lined up as a fullback in an offset-I, again on a pair of rollout passes to set the Mules up at the Kamehameha 2-yard line.
Sione Faleofa entered the game and scored on a 1-yard run to give the Mules the lead. Ryan Bibilone's PAT kick made it 7-0 with 10:46 left in the first half.
Kamehameha moved the ball consistently on the ground, only to turn the ball over by air. Parker Bode, replacing Kam as the starting quarterback, completed his first four passes, but was intercepted by Guyes Galdeira and B.J. Fruean to end promising Warrior drives in the first quarter.
A botched toss sweep by Leilehua led to a fumble recovery by Mika Kane, who raced 11 yards with the ball to the Mules' 5-yard line. Two plays later, at the 1, Bode and his center appeared to move forward before the snap. No call was made, and on the snap, Leilehua linebacker Galdeira hit Bode, who fumbled on the sneak attempt. Leilehua's John Felix recovered in the end zone for a touchback. That gave Kamehameha three turnovers on its first four possessions before Kam replaced Bode.
Leilehua led at intermission 7-0.
The Warriors got a prime opportunity midway through the third quarter when they partially blocked a punt by Bibilone. After the 20-yard punt went out of bounds, Kamehameha had the ball at Leilehua's 30-yard line. The Warriors went to work on the ground, giving the pigskin to Rego six straight plays before Ikaika Hardie ran around left end for a 6-yard gain to the Leilehua 4.
Kam faked to Rego and found Jacob Ho open in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown pass. Kepa Gaison's extra-point kick tied the game at 7 with 4:09 remaining in the third quarter.
Michael Holt intercepted a deep fourth-down pass by Moniz, intended for Chustin Senas, giving Kamehameha first down on its own 2-yard line. On third-and-8, the Warriors got a break when Leilehua cornerback Charles Sanchez inadvertently tripped Aaron Nichols on a fly route. The pass-interference call gave the Warriors a first down. Moments later, Rego followed center Tyler Williams off right tackle and sprinted to pay dirt. He escaped the grasp of Fruean at the 5-yard line for a 79-yard touchdown run.
The Warriors led 14-7 with 1:54 left in the third. "I was telling myself to just make it. Don't run out of gas," Rego said. "I tried to keep my balance."
Leilehua's hybrid passing offense wilted in the second half, going three-and-out on incomplete passes. The Mule defense stopped Kamehameha on downs soon after, but Moniz's pass attempt to Dwight Villanueva was intercepted by Drew Ueno at the Leilehua 29-yard line.
That led to Kam's second touchdown pass, a 3-yard lob to the sideline, where Hardie hauled the ball in for an easy score. Gaison's PAT increased Kamehameha's lead to 21-7 with 7:26 to play in the game.
Kamehameha 28, Leilehua 7
At Aloha Stadium
Lei--Sione Faleofa 1 run (Ryan Bibilone kick).
Kam--Jacob Ho 4 pass from Pono Kam (Kepa Gaison kick).
Kam--Jayson Rego 79 run (Gaison kick).
Kam--Ikaika Hardie 3 pass from Kam (Gaison kick).
Kam--Aaron Nichols 25 pass from Kam (Gaison kick).
RUSHING--Leilehua: Justin Lawelawe 11-39, Faleofa 1-1, Bryant Moniz 5-(-44). Kamehameha: Rego 39-212, Hardie 4-33, Parker Bode 1-0, Tyson Fujimoto 5-(-4).
PASSING--Leilehua: Moniz 15-36-4-231. Kamehameha: Kam 5-9-0-59, Bode 4-8-2-31.
RECEIVING--Leilehua: Chustin Senas 7-119, Lawelawe 3-54, Anthony Palomares 3-42, Dwight Villanueva 2-16. Kamehameha: Hardie 5-31, Nichols 3-55, Ho 1-4.