HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Damien's Kealoha Pilares carried 48 times for 300 yards and scored five touchdowns.
No. 8 Iolani keeps up with Damien’s Pilares
In a game that featured 106 points and nearly 1,000 yards of total offense, leave it to Iolani coach Wendell Look to single out his defense as the key to victory.
But behind a huge goal-line stand late in the game, the eighth-ranked Raiders clinched the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's lone spot in the Division II state tournament with a wild, record-setting 57-49 victory over Damien yesterday at Iolani.
Despite an incredible performance from Monarchs running back Kealoha Pilares, who rushed for 300 yards on 48 carries and scored five touchdowns, Iolani (7-4, 4-3) got a five-touchdown performance of its own from running back Mike Hirokawa, and four touchdown passes from quarterback Kiran Kepoo as the Raiders scored 35 second-half points to come-from-behind and defeat Damien (4-6, 2-5).
The 48 carries by Pilares is believed to be a single-game state record while his 300 yards are the most gained on the ground this year, and 52 shy of the single-game record, held by Iolani's Joe Igber, who ran for 352 yards against Pac-Five in the late 1990s.
"Finish the deal," Look said. "In everything we do, we always talk about finishing the deal. If we wanted to be champs, we had to pick ourselves up after being knocked down like champions do, and we did."
Leading 50-43 with 5 minutes to go, the Monarchs drove 76 yards on nine running plays, and Pilares' fifth touchdown of the day cut the lead to one with 1:48 to go. But the Iolani defense, who had given up three conversions already, stopped Pilares cold on the 2-point try, and Hirokawa added a 45-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds to go to seal the victory.
"We've got nobody over 200 pounds on our defensive line and against a team like Damien, they're going to get their yards," Look said. "We ask so much of our defense and they reached down deep and made an unbelievable play. They made it when it counted the most."
Coming off consecutive loses, including a heartbreaking 24-20 defeat on the same field a week ago against Punahou, the Raiders needed a win to avoid a playoff game against Damien for a berth in the Division II state tournament. Early on, it seemed things were headed that way as the Monarchs raced out to a quick 15-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run from Pilares and a 33-yard interception return by Freyton Castillo. But as was the case throughout, the game would see-saw back and forth.
Kepoo shook off a slow start by eluding four Monarchs defenders on one play before hooking up with Kekai Kealoha for a 24-yard touchdown score with 9 seconds left in the first quarter. After the Raiders defense forced one of just two punts the entire game, Kepoo hooked up with Blayne Yama for a 16-yard score. A successful 2-point conversion tied the game at 15.
"We had been in a slump and came out slow early, but this team has so much heart," Kepoo said. "We knew we couldn't have any letdowns and no matter what we kept battling."
After Damien took the lead again on a 17-yard pass from George Martin to Sheldon Bailey, Kepoo led the Raiders on a 55-yard drive in the final minute of the half before hitting Hirokawa with a 19-yard pass on a screen play that looked to give Iolani a 22-21 lead heading into halftime. But Pilares, in one of the best plays of the year, took the ensuing kickoff 76 yards to the house with 3 seconds to go to put Damien back up 29-22 at halftime.
"He's their workhorse," Hirokawa said of Pilares. "They put all the pressure on him and he delivers. He's good."
Pilares wasted no time adding to what would eventually be a career day as on the first play of the second half, he took the handoff 69 yards to put Damien up 37-22. But not to be outdone, Hirokawa answered Pilares' challenge immediately, as he took the ball 63 yards for a touchdown on Iolani's first play of the second half, capping off a 36-second period of the game where four touchdowns were scored.
"That was just unbelievable," Look said. "(Pilares) is awesome, one of the best I've seen and a Division I-caliber running back, but we've got a pretty good running back of our own as well."
No. 8 Iolani 57, Damien 49
At Iolani School field
|Damien (4-6, 2-5)
|Iolani (7-4, 4-3)
Dam--Kealoha Pilares 1 run (Mike Sipili run).
Dam--Freyton Castillo 33 interception return (Matt Tom kick).
Iol--Kekai Kealoha 24 pass from Kiran Kepoo (Kody Adams kick).
Iol--Blayne Yama 16 pass from Kepoo (Travis Nishioka pass from Kepoo).
Dam--Sheldon Bailey 17 pass from George Martin (kick failed).
Iol--Mike Hirokawa 19 pass from Kepoo (Adams kick).
Dam--Pilares 76 kickoff return (David Tuiasosopo pass from Martin).
Dam--Pilares 69 run (run failed).
Iol--Hirokawa 63 run (Adams kick).
Dam--Pilares 1 run (Sipili pass from Martin).
Iol--Nishioka 28 pass from Hirokawa (Adams kick).
Iol--Kealoha 7 pass from Kepoo (Adams kick).
Iol--Hirokawa 9 run (Adams kick).
Dam--Pilares 1 run (run failed).
Iol--Hirokawa 45 run (Adams kick).
RUSHING--Damien: Pilares 48-300, Bailey 12-74, Timo Gasolo 1-3. Iolani: Hirokawa 22-210, Justin Yamamoto 1-7, Kepoo 2-2.
PASSING--Damien: Martin 4-7-2-40, James Skizewski 1-6-0-21. Iolani: Kepoo 21-35-3-272, Hirokawa 1-1-0-28.
RECEIVING--Damien: Bailey 2-33, Bronson Sonico 1-21, Pilares 1-4, Rein Ota 1-3. Iolani: Yama 8-88, Nishioka 6-100, Kealoha 3-53, Hirokawa 2-42, David Whitehouse 2-16, Mark May 1-1.