OIA RED WEST
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Waianae's Chad Paaluhi and Leilehua's Christian Mendez dove for a pass intended for Mendez in the end zone last night. The pass fell incomplete.
Mules still have some kick
Leilehua's Daniel Phelps knocked a 32-yard field goal through the uprights with just over 7 minutes left in the game to give the injury-riddled Mules an improbable 3-0 victory last night over No. 9-ranked Waianae in an Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West game at Hugh Yoshida Stadium.
The win leveled Leilehua's overall record at 4-4 and league mark at 3-3 entering the OIA Red playoffs. Waianae (6-2, 4-2) also qualified for the postseason in a game delayed 45 minutes due to a serious injury to Leilehua wideout Joe Iosefa.
The 2005 season has undoubtedly been a year full of frustration for the Mules. After going 11-2 and advancing to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I championship game last year, Leilehua has had to deal with a number of key injuries and losses this season. All-State second team quarterback Bryant Moniz looked to be a huge key for the Mules' aerial attack, but was lost for the year just a couple of games into the schedule.
Returning all-league and honorable-mention all-state linebacker Guyes Galdeira missed considerable action due to an injury, as did fellow returnee Mene Coffin. Leilehua also lost All-State receiver Chustin Senas, who was dismissed from the team.
Last night, the Mules were dealt another big blow when Iosefa was injured during a scramble for a loose ball against Waianae. Iosefa dove toward the ball near midfield on the muddy track and never came back up. Iosefa reportedly snapped his left arm and had to be taken off in an ambulance.
Mules quarterback Guy Cantrell hit Tianeva Tyrell Edra for an apparent long gainer with about 2 minutes remaining in the first half, but a Waianae defender was able to strip the ball from the junior receiver, beginning the sequence that would end with Iosefa's injury.
For the most part, the contest was slowed by penalties from both squads, as well as five Leilehua turnovers. The Mules scored an apparent go-ahead touchdown late in the third quarter when Cantrell hit Will Landestoy in stride down the right sideline for what seemed to be a 68-yard score.
But an illegal-motion penalty brought the ball back to the Leilehua 32-yard line. Phelps attempted one field goal later in the game, but the apparent 3-pointer was taken off the board because of a procedure penalty. Phelps later knocked the game-winner through with 7:11 left to keep Leilehua's postseason dream alive.
BACK TO TOP
Aiea hands Mililani its first division loss
After the offense put on a show, it was the second-half defense that made the difference as Aiea handed No. 8 Mililani its first league loss of the year, 27-20.
Both the Trojans and Na Alii had already secured bids into the upcoming Oahu Interscholastic Association playoffs, but the two teams still battled to the very end for the win.
With Aiea leading by seven as the final minutes ran by, its defense stepped up. On third down with less than 2 minutes to go, Na Alii defensive lineman Issac Tuilaepa batted down a Rustin Funakoshi pass to force the Trojans to go for the first down on fourth and 5. And again, Na Alii spoiled the play as the pass went incomplete. From there, Aiea ran out the clock as Na Alii fans celebrated in the stands.
"It's a big boost," said Aiea coach Wendell Say, who was doused with water as the clock ran out. "You're knocking off the undefeated, the No. 1-seeded Mililani Trojans. It gives us a little momentum going into the playoffs, to show we can play."
"It was a team thing," Aiea quarterback Kali Kuia said. "It was our defense, our offense, our O-line, our receivers, everything. Everyone came together."
The Trojans, who secured the top seed in the West with a win last week over Leilehua, finished the regular season at 6-2, 5-1 in OIA Red West play. Na Alii improved to 6-2, 4-2 in the OIA Red West.
The tandem of Kuia and receiver Lofa Liilii made for a difficult challenge for the Trojans. Kuia passed for 280 yards, 125 of which were to Liilii.
"He's a deep threat, a short threat, everything," Kuia said. Liilii also ran for 78 yards, including a 54-yard breakaway in the first half.
Funakoshi threw for 131 yards on 12-of-19 passing. Kekoa Perbera led the way for the Trojans on the ground, rushing for 57 yards on 14 carries.
The teams traded blows in the first half, as neither offense could be stopped. But while Na Alii simply passed downfield, the Trojans completed two risky plays that gave them great field position.
On their first possession, the Trojans pulled off a fake punt that gave them first down at the Na Alii 29-yard line. That gamble paid off when Funakoshi capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Then in the second quarter, the Trojans recovered an onside kick to start their drive on the Aiea 39-yard line. Mililani again scored, with Michael Smith catching a 20-yard pass from Funakoshi to put the Trojans up 20-13.
"The first half was tough; it could have gone either way," Say said.
Na Alii also came out firing in the first half, zipping their way down the field.
On the first drive of the game, Kuia threw three passes for 40 yards. Senior Landon Dela Cruz then ran in the 1-yard touchdown.
After Mililani scored, Aiea came roaring back with two big completions from Kuia to Liilii. From his own 7-yard line, Kuia got his team down the field in a hurry, finding Liilii wide open down the middle of the field for a 55-yard bomb. A few plays later, he got Liilii the ball again down the middle, completing the 36-yard strike that gave Na Alii the ball at the 1-yard line. Liilii put Na Alii ahead three plays later, bouncing to the outside to run in the touchdown.
"We try to get better every week," Say said. "So far, we seem to be on track."