HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Waianae's Roy Demello blew past Aiea's David Savaaetasi for a first-half touchdown.
Seariders right the ship
Like the waves crashing against the shoreline just beyond the makai sideline at Raymond Torii Field, the Waianae Seariders proved relentless in overpowering Aiea 46-0 last night in an Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference playoff game.
Waianae, the OIA Red West Champion, converted two first-quarter interceptions into touchdowns and scored on six of its eight offensive possessions to advance to a semifinal matchup against Mililani.
The Seariders (6-3) and Trojans meet for a berth in the final and a Division I state-tournament spot on Friday at Aloha Stadium.
While Aiea (4-6) needed a late goal-line stand to survive last week's first-round game at Castle. Waianae had a week off to regroup following a loss to Kapolei to end the regular season.
Although Waianae coach Dan Matsumoto isn't a big fan of down time, the break gave the Seariders a chance to heal some wounds and recharge for the playoffs.
"We came out as a team," Waianae cornerback Bronson Panui said. "That loss to Kapolei was just a phase. We came out as a team, came together, practiced hard. Against Kapolei we wasn't a team, but we came back together."
With Waianae's defensive front putting pressure on Aiea quarterback Alfredo Higa, Panui came up with two of the Seariders' four interceptions, returning the first 70 yards for a touchdown that helped set the tone for the rout.
"The last time we played them we didn't put as much pressure on them and they moved the ball on us quickly," said Matsumoto, referring to the regular-season meeting between the teams. "The defense played well. Both sides of the ball played well tonight."
The Searider offensive line cleared the way for six running backs to roll up 151 yards on the ground with four backs reaching the end zone. Quarterback Ben McQuown completed four of his five pass attempts for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Unlike last week's thrilling conclusion at Castle, there was little drama for Aiea last night as Waianae built a 39-0 halftime lead, putting the OIA's mercy rule into effect for the second half. The running clock brought a quick end to Na Alii's season.
"It's one of those nights you don't want to have happen again," Aiea coach Wendell Say said. "It's a tough way for our seniors to end the season, but Waianae played well tonight."
Aiea's Lofa Liiilii played running back, receiver and quarterback in the game and had a hand in 103 of Na Alii's 138 yards in total offense.
Waianae cornerback Preston Ayala's interception less than 2 minutes into the game set up a 13-yard touchdown pass from McQuown to Kelemeke Maifea for the Seariders' first score.
After Aiea drove into Waianae territory on its next possession, Panui picked off Higa's throw to the right side and sprinted 70 yards for another touchdown.
"I thank my defense, without them I wouldn't have scored," Panui said. "When I picked it, I just saw green and I just went."
The Searider running game extended the lead in the second quarter with punishing scoring runs by David Ferreira (17 yards), Roy Demello (10 yards) and Justin Kauwalu (1 yard).
Waianae also struck through the air when Don Medeiros raced under McQuown's pass deep down the right sideline for a 52-yard connection.
Joe Abell recovered a fumble at the goal line in the third quarter for the game's final score.
"It was important to put points on the board because Aiea's offense is so explosive," Matsumoto said. "It was nice to be up early."
The Seariders now turn their attention to Mililani, which defeated Farrington 33-6 last night.
"They've improved since we played them and they look like they're on a roll," Matsumoto said. "So were going to really have to practice well."