HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kahuku's Junior Mataafa left a trail of Leilehua defenders behind en route to an 82-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that gave the Red Raiders a win.
Kahuku to face Waianae for OIA title
Junior Mataafa makes the most of his chance as his Red Raiders beat the Leilehua Mules 13-7
Junior Mataafa always desired one of those big MVP trophies, so he went out and got one.
The Kahuku backup running back made the final difference in the Red Raiders' 13-7 victory over Leilehua in the Oahu Interscholastic Association football semifinals last night at Aloha Stadium.
"I'm just thankful for the opportunity that I got," said Mataafa, who broke loose for an 82-yard touchdown run with 7:12 left in the game to break a 7-all tie. "I'm a backup and the coaches put me in there. That was my longest run (ever). I knew it was a close game and was trying to do something to help break it. It was a really big hole. In the corner of my eye, I saw someone coming, so I cut (left) and all I saw was open space, so I ran as fast as I could.
"I always wanted one of those (trophies), so it was like a dream come true."
Mataafa -- who also had a fumble recovery and came within inches of blocking a punt -- finished with 105 yards rushing on four carries.
The win was far from easy for Kahuku (8-2), however. The Red Raiders' option offense was out of sync most of the night, and, even though the defense gave up only seven points, they yielded 228 yards to the Mules' balanced attack.
"We just squeaked it out," said Kahuku coach Reggie Torres, whose team plays Waianae on Friday for the OIA title. The Seariders beat Mililani 7-6 in last night's late game.
"Junior showed up tonight with hard inside running," Torres said. "He gave us the momentum and we ended up pulling off a victory. The offense was plugging away, but we needed a spark and Junior gave us that.
"Our defense stepped up and brought the intensity when they had to. Leilehua was tough to stop. That quarterback (Bryant Moniz) and running back (Micah Abreu-Laybon) are tough."
Moniz finished 17-for-32 for 156 yards and Abreu-Laybon had 112 combined rushing and receiving yards. But the Mules' offense never overcame poor field position in the second half.
"We came out slow," said Moniz, who led Leilehua past Kahuku in the state tournament semifinals two years ago when he was a sophomore. "There were a couple of dropped passes here and there and we didn't execute. But the defense did the job and held them to 13 points. We (on offense) gotta do our job."
The Mules (7-3) play Mililani on Friday for third place in the OIA as well as the league's third and final spot in the states.
"Don't count us out," Moniz added. "Two years ago, we got through the OIA third-place game and into the states and all the way to the final. We had pretty much of an off-game tonight. We've got to correct the mistakes."
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Martin Iosefa of Leilehua dove to make this touchdown grab in front of Kahuku defenders Gary Nagy, left, and Jede Malufau.
Prior to Mataafa's game-winning run, Leilehua coach Nolan Tokuda had a big decision to make with a fourth and 1 at the Mules' 49 with a little more than 8 minutes left.
"We tried to pin 'em," Tokuda said.
Instead, the Red Raiders fielded the punt and took over at their own 23. Two plays and an 11-yard penalty later, Mataafa was on his way to the end zone and the win.
Moniz got Leilehua as far as its own 42 with less than 2 minutes left, but Kahuku clamped down, and Moniz's Hail Mary pass on fourth down went over the head of Tony Belen.
In the first half, the Mules drove deep into Red Raiders territory three times, but came away with only one score.
"If we executed a little better, blocked a little better, maybe the outcome would have been different," Tokuda said. "We lost to a damn good Kahuku team. They're physical. We've got one more shot (next week). It's a do-or-die situation the next time we step on the field."
Moniz shook off a 2-for-9 start by going 5-for-7 on Leilehua's first touchdown drive. The senior quarterback's 33-yard strike to Martin Iosefo was a key play in the 84-yard march that was capped by Iosefo's 20-yard TD reception in which he dove with outstretched arms in the end zone to haul in Moniz's timed toss for a 7-0 lead with 5:48 to go before halftime.
The Red Raiders answered right back for a 7-all halftime tie as quarterback Richard Torres, the coach's son, finally got the option attack into gear.
Torres' 22-yard keeper was the biggest gain of the 85-yard drive that ended with his first pass of the night -- a 5-yard TD to tight end Siaosi Vaifoou, who normally plays defensive end.
Kahuku nearly took a halftime lead, but came away empty after Mataafa recovered Leilehua's Tianeva Tyrell-Edra's fumble on the ensuing kickoff. The Red Raiders took possession at the Mules' 24, but Tyrell-Edra redeemed himself by intercepting Torres' third-down pass at the Leilehua 1 with 6 seconds to go before the break.
Leilehua missed a solid chance to score late in the first quarter. Micah Uehara lined up for a 29-yard field goal, but holder Kaipo Derego couldn't control the snap and was tackled for an 8-yard loss.
Next week, Kahuku tries for its 11th OIA championship in the last 14 seasons. Since 1993, Castle (2002), Waianae (1996 and '97) and Kailua (co-champs with the Red Raiders in 2001) have dented Kahuku's dominance.
"We have a lot of corrections to make," coach Torres said. "We struggled. Leilehua controlled the ball on us. If we don't do better in the trenches, we're going to get beat."
Pac-Five 21, Damien 20
OIA RED PLAYOFFS
No. 3 Kahuku 13, No. 7 Leilehua 7
At Aloha Stadium
Lei--Martin Iosefo 20 pass from Bryant Moniz (Micah Uehara kick).
Kah--Siaosi Vaifoou 5 pass from Richard Torres (Kaika Sasaoka kick).
Kah--Junior Mataafa 82 run (kick failed).
RUSHING--Leilehua: Micah Abreu-Laybon 19-78, Bronson Pausa 2-3, Moniz 1-(minus-1), Kaipo Derego 1-(minus-8). Kahuku: Junior Mataafa 4-105, Torres 15-64, Lehi Aumua 15-54, Neal Lokotui 9-31.
PASSING--Leilehua: Moniz 17-32-0-156. Kahuku: Torres 1-6-2-5.
RECEIVING--Leilehua: Iosefo 6-101, Abreu-Laybon 8-34, Tony Belen 1-12, Aric Edra 1-7, Derego 1-2. Kahuku: Vaifoou 1-5.
No. 4 Waianae 7, No. 8 Mililani 6
At Aloha Stadium
MIL--Colin Lund 16 pass from Rustin Funakoshi (kick blocked).
WAI--David Ferreira 7 run (William Duseigneur kick).
RUSHING--Mililani: Jordan Torres 14-74, Isaiah Lawelawe 6-18, Kala Perbera 4-6, Tojo Ishida 1-(-4). Funakoshi 4-(-8). Waianae: Ben McQuown 7-90, Joe Abell 12-81,Danny Kekoanui 13-46, Ferreira 8-32, Preston Cummings 1-1.
PASSING--Mililani: Funakoshi 6-16-0-63, Torres 0-1-0-0. Waianae: McQuown 8-15-2-96.
RECEIVING--Mililani: Lund 2-29, J.R. Rosal 1-17, Scott Burns 1-12, Curtis Murakami 1-5, Torres 1-0. Waianae: Kekoanui 3-35, Abell 2-26, Don Medeiros 1-23, Cranston Newman 1-6, Tyson Ranada 1-6.
Kauai 42, Kapaa 0
King Kekaulike 14, Lahainaluna 14
Kamehameha-Maui 39, Maui High 6
Konawaena 20, Honokaa 0