HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Moanalua's Jordan Monico pulled down Iolani's Mike Hirokawa after a first-half reception during yesterday's game at Eddie Hamada Field.
Red Raiders air it out against Menehunes
The Moanalua Menehunes saw their share of airborne attacks during the regular season.
Until yesterday, however, they hadn't seen anything quite like Kiran Kepo'o and his fleet of speedsters. Kepo'o passed for 303 yards and four touchdowns -- in the first half -- as Iolani overwhelmed Moanalua 48-20 at Eddie Hamada Field.
A full house saw Iolani (8-4) advance to the final of the HHSAA/First Hawaiian Bank State Division II Football Championships. Iolani will meet the Radford on Friday, 5 p.m., at Aloha Stadium.
Moanalua, runner-up from the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Conference, finished the season 9-3.
"Our kids played their hearts out. I learned more from them this season than I have in 15 years," Menehunes coach Arnold Martinez said.
Iolani's defense, anchored by linebacker Jon Takamura, bent without breaking often. Moanalua quarterback Stanford Leti rushed 16 times for 139 yards, but only two runs were for more than 20 yards. The Menehunes amassed 323 total yards.
Iolani racked up 510 total yards. Travis Nishioka caught five passes for 132 yards, including a pair of touchdowns, and Kekai Kealoha hauled in five passes for 120 yards.
Humid weather and a spongy grass surface did little to slow the Raiders, who scored touchdowns on five of their first six possessions. Kepo'o was nearly flawless and his receivers did not drop a pass in the first half.
Kepo'o finished the game with gaudy statistics: 17-for-25 for 355 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 28 yards on five attempts.
"Our linemen did a great job," the left-hander said.
Perhaps more impressive than Kepo'o's offensive numbers was Iolani's effort in stifling Moanalua's Quinton Tang. The powerful, fast linebacker did not record a sack because Iolani's offensive line knew exactly how dangerous he could be.
"Robbie Lopes makes all the calls," Iolani coach Wendell Look said of his senior center. "He and Matt (Kohatsu) and Lucas (Kennard) did a good job today."
Lopes, who has been Kepo'o's center since their intermediate-league days, called it a matter of teamwork.
"We knew we had to watch him. He has speed. We made sure someone always scraped off," he said.
Kepo'o also made an adjustment.
"We tried to change up the count on him because he anticipates well," he said.
Martinez expected Iolani to pay attention to Tang.
"They did a good job of finding where 'Q' was, but if he's blocked, our D-line has to get in," he said. "It comes down to assignment football. You gotta give Iolani credit. Their O-line is well-coached."
Iolani's first drive, a 62-yard march, required three plays. Kepo'o connected with Nishioka on a fly pattern for a 61-yard touchdown. Nishioka, who caught two of the first-half touchdown strikes, gave Iolani a 7-0 lead with 8:55 left in the opening quarter.
Moanalua's man coverage wasn't enough to slow down Iolani.
"We mixed in some zone blitzes," Martinez said. "We had them right where we wanted, but we had some blown coverages. When you're aggressive, but have one or two blown assignments, (Kepo'o) will find the open guy."
The visiting Menehunes got on the scoreboard in their third series. Leti scored on an option keeper for a 39-yard touchdown run. Moanalua tied the game at 7-all with 4:56 remaining in the first quarter.
The Raiders answered with a nine-play, 63-yard drive. Nishioka and Kealoha caught key third-down passes before Kepo'o threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Mike Hirokawa. Iolani led 14-7 with 2:30 to play in the first quarter.
Moanalua, with several two-way starters, showed signs of fatigue as the second quarter began. Kepo'o's next pass was a 50-yard bomb to Nishioka for Iolani's third touchdown. The Raiders led 21-7 with 11:04 left in the second quarter.
Kepo'o, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior, found Kealoha open on Iolani's next play from scrimmage for a 53-yard pass play. Hirokawa scored right after that on a 10-yard touchdown run, and Iolani led 28-7 with 6:12 to go in the first half.
David Whitehouse hauled in a 35-yard touchdown pass from Kepo'o with 52 seconds left in the half to give Iolani a 35-7 lead.
Moanalua, which had 124 total yards in the first half, did not get beyond the Iolani 48-yard line after its early touchdown.
The Raiders opened the second half with an 11-play, 67-yard march. Kepo'o scrambled three times for 33 yards to fuel the drive. Hirokawa scored on a 1-yard burst up the middle as Iolani surged to a 42-7 lead with 7:51 left in the third quarter.
Reserves played out the remainder of the contest for Iolani.
Iolani 48, Moanalua 20
At Iolani H.S. field
Iol--Travis Nishioka 61 pass from Kiran Kepo'o (Kody Adams kick).
Moan--Stanford Leti 39 run (Landon Watanabe kick).
Iol--Mike Hirokawa 20 pass from Kepo'o (Adams kick).
Iol--Nishioka 50 pass from Kepo'o (Adams kick).
Iol--Hirokawa 10 run (Adams kick).
Iol--David Whitehouse 35 pass from Kepo'o (Adams kick).
Iol--Hirokawa 1 run (Adams kick).
Iol--Leti 2 run (Watanabe kick).
Iol--Justin Yamamoto 42 run (kick failed).
Moan--Jordan Monico 8 run (run failed).
RUSHING--Moanalua: Leti 16-139, Monico 4-51, John Estores 7-34, Jarin Salvador-Atabay 6-21, Quinton Tang 9-20, Watanabe 2-10, Jim Mateo 1-3. Iolani: Justin Yamamoto 11-75, Hirokawa 10-43, Kepo'o 5-28, Reid Furukawa 2-5, Ryan Dung 3-4, Alex Lim 1-(-2).
PASSING--Moanalua: Leti 1-7-1-1, Salvador-Atabay 0-1-0-0, Monico 1-1-0-(-1), Estores 2-5-0-44. Iolani: Kepo'o 17-25-0-355, Dung 1-2-0-11.
RECEIVING--Moanalua: Leti 2-44, Salvador-Atabay 2-1. Iolani: Nishioka 5-132, Kekai Kealoha 5-120, Blayne Yama 3-25, Hirokawa 2-28, Whitehouse 1-35, Mark May 1-15, Scott Wada 1-11