HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Iolani's Jon Takamura held up the trophy as he celebrated with teammates after the Raiders defeated Radford for the Division II title.
Iolani reaches the top with a victory over Radford
The Raiders make up for a loss in last year's title game with a 34-20 win over the Rams
Refusing to watch another team hoist the championship trophy for a second straight year, the Iolani Raiders rallied past Radford to capture the Division II state title with a 34-20 victory last night at Aloha Stadium.
Iolani came back from an early deficit only to lose the lead in the third quarter against the Rams. But the Raiders scored the game's final 17 points to earn the school's first state football crown.
"They left some unfinished business here last year," Iolani coach Wendell Look said, referencing the Raiders' loss to Campbell in the 2004 Division II final.
"That was our theme this year, finish the deal. They set out to do that, and they developed that toughness and character that they didn't want to lose."
Iolani running back Mike Hirokawa powered the Raiders by slicing through the Rams' defense for 217 yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns as the Raiders became the first Interscholastic League of Honolulu team to win the D-II championship.
"I have to give props to my O-line; I'd be nothing without them," Hirokawa said. "I wouldn't want to play with any other five linemen."
Quarterback Kiran Kepo'o completed 13 of 19 throws for 187 yards and two touchdowns, both to fellow senior Travis Nishioka.
Kepo'o's 10-yard strike to Nishioka with 51 seconds left in the third quarter gave Iolani the lead for good.
The Raiders' defense struggled to contain Radford back Alex Daniels early in the game, and the senior went on to finish with 138 yards and two scores.
But rather than scrap their game plan after watching Daniels repeatedly escape their grasp, the Raiders went back to basics in the second half to keep him under control.
"We went more to our base actually, and let our kids play," Iolani defensive coordinator Matt Tan said. "We didn't feel like we had to adjust too much; we just had to tackle better."
The Rams, meanwhile, had a tough time getting a hold of Hirokawa, as the 5-foot-9 senior burst through lanes in the defense to pace the Raiders offense.
"They caught us on the traps, they ran up inside and he's a great back, he's shifty," Radford defensive end Russell Wantowski said. "We had to take away his cutbacks and he was taking advantage of us not taking that away."
Both offenses had little trouble moving the ball early in the game. Radford covered 65 yards in 10 plays on the game's opening possession and Daniels gave the Rams the lead with a 5-yard touchdown run.
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Iolani's Jon Takamura tackled Radford's Alex Daniels in last night's game at Aloha Stadium.
Iolani responded with Kody Adams' 30-yard field goal, which was set up when Kepo'o connected with Hirokawa running up the left seam for a 50-yard gain to the Rams' 7.
A 26-yard Jaime Whitworth field goal put Radford up 10-7, but a defensive stop midway through the second quarter tilted the momentum to the Iolani side of the field.
On fourth and 2 at the Radford 41, Iolani stuffed Daniels for no gain. The Raiders scored two plays later on Kepo'o's 35-yard strike down the middle of the field to Nishioka and tied the game at 10.
"We knew they wanted to dive or run a quarterback sneak, so we just tried to pile the box and bring everyone and it worked," Iolani linebacker Jon Takamura said.
"That was huge in momentum. We gave up points early, and we're not the typical comeback team and we knew we needed the momentum back on our side."
The Raiders then forced a Radford punt and took its first lead on Hirokawa's 4-yard run.
Radford drove deep into Iolani territory in the final moments of the half, and settled for Whitworth's 20-yard field goal to trail 17-13 at the break.
The teams traded punts and turnovers in the third quarter, with Radford getting a break when Hirokawa fumbled the ball on a punt return at the Rams 19.
Radford took six plays to take a 20-17 lead as Daniels angled off the right side and into the end zone on fourth and goal at the Iolani 1.
But Iolani answered immediately. Hirokawa darted through the line and outran the Radford defense for a 56-yard gain. Kepo'o then hit Nishioka for the go-ahead score despite tight coverage.
"It was all Kiran," Nishioka said. "Kiran made a great throw, and the O-line blocked really well."
The Raiders then added another Adams field goal and put the game away with Hirokawa's 14-yard TD run with 2:34 left in the game.
Despite falling short, Radford's run to the final proved a gratifying experience for the Rams.
"It's just wonderful for the school, for these kids that we got this far," Radford coach Fred Salanoa said. "We set our eyes on this goal in the offseason. We got here, we didn't win, but these kids never gave up."
Iolani 34, Radford 20
At Aloha Stadium
Rad--Alex Daniels 5 run (Jamie Whitworth kick).
Iol--FG Kody Adams 30.
Rad--FG Whitworth 26.
Iol--Travis Nishioka 35 pass from Kiran Kepo'o (Adams kick).
Iol--Mike Hirokawa 4 run (Adams kick).
Rad--FG Whitworth 20.
Rad--Daniels 1 run (Whitworth kick).
Iol--Nishioka 10 pass from Kepo'o (Adams kick).
Iol--FG Adams 21.
Iol--Hirokawa 15 run (Adams kick).
RUSHING--Radford: Daniels 30-138, Justin Lord 14-61, Jeremy LeClair 8-31, Team 1-(-27). Iolani: Hirokawa 23-217, Kepo'o 7-(-18).
PASSING--Radford: Lord 9-20-0-76. Iolani: Kepo'o 13-19-1-187.
RECEIVING--Radford: Mike Sooto 4-25, Joe Brundidge 2-14, Kyle Blair 1-24, Daniels 1-11, Shane Masaniai 1-2. Iolani: Kekai Kealoha 4-46, Blayne Yama 4-38, Hirokawa 2-52, Nishioka 2-45, Mark May 1-6.