HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Kapolei steals win away from Kailua
Late-game heroics from Lyle Santiago have Kapolei headed back to a familiar sight.
The junior defensive back intercepted two passes in the final 3 minutes and Cyril Ontai scored the go-ahead touchdown with 56 seconds remaining to lead Kapolei past Kailua 14-7 last night in the first round of the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red playoffs.
The Hurricanes (6-3) advance to a quarterfinal showdown this Friday with top-seeded Kahuku. It's the third year in a row the two teams will meet in the playoffs.
"Now we go to Kahuku and try to slay the dragon known as the Kahuku Red Raiders," Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said. "And I wouldn't want to have it any other way."
The Hurricanes have found themselves in the identical position the past two seasons. Kapolei advanced to the playoffs for the first time in '05 and was slaughtered by Kahuku 47-7.
Last year, the Hurricanes won their first playoff game in school history, but went to Kahuku and had their season ended again 33-15.
"Why would you want to dodge the best team?" Hernandez said. "We have been taking steps in getting better each season. I hope we're not settling for moral victories at this point."
Ontai's 3-yard scoring run with less than a minute left was the only score of the second half. The Surfriders got the ball back with 50 seconds left and drove the ball to the Kapolei 31-yard line.
Kailua quarterback Kale Sumner, who threw for 116 yards, dropped back and was looking for a receiver down the sideline. Santiago stepped in front and came up with his second interception of the game to clinch Kapolei's first home playoff victory.
"I was getting pushed down every play but just kept battling," Santiago said.
As are most teams this late in the season, Kapolei entered the game battling its share of injuries. The Hurricanes played without 6-foot-4, 285-pound Mike Hoffman and 6-5, 290-pound Stan Hasiak on the offensive line.
Senior quarterback Mason Koa, known more for his legs than his arm, was held to 9 yards on 13 carries. Kapolei had only 150 yards rushing as a team.
"We couldn't get out of our own way," Hernandez said.
Kailua scored on its first possession, as Sumner found Dustyn Naki for a 25-yard touchdown to cap a seven-play, 64-yard drive for a quick 7-0 lead.
However, it would be Kailua's only score, as the Hurricanes defense allowed fewer than 200 yards for the rest of the game.
The difference in the game was crucial turnovers with little time on the clock.
The Surfriders held their 7-0 lead in the first half until the final minute.
Maverick Satele recovered a fumble by Sumner and returned it to the 5-yard line. The Kailua defense stopped three straight runs to set up fourth and goal from inches away. Koa went play-action and hit Shaydon Akuna with the touchdown pass with 5 seconds left to tie the game at 7-7.
"Football is a game of momentum and we gave them hope with that turnover," Kailua coach Gary Rosolowich said. "I can't argue with my defense tonight. I just wish we could have put the ball in the end zone a little more."
The score remained that way until Santiago's first interception in the fourth quarter gave Kapolei the ball at the Kailua 25-yard line. A 13-yard run by Kelii Aki and a subsequent face-mask penalty put the ball inside the 5-yard line to set up Ontai's game-winning run.
"That's what you call a bend-but-don't-break defense," Hernandez said. "They did a good job of setting up our offense to score some points and we needed it."
Kaimuki 53, Kalani 7
The Bulldogs used a balanced attack to score 35 points in the second half to beat the Falcons.
The Bulldogs had eight players score, including a punt return by Andrew Savie.
Waialua 22, Nanakuli 8
Donovan Matas threw for 105 yards and ran for 100 yards, scoring two touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs past the Golden Hawks.