HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Waianae hangs on to top Kalaheo in quarterfinal
Kalaheo's Cody vonAppen gave Waianae everything he had. In the end, linebacker Josh Iriarte and the No. 6 Seariders gave him a little more.
Iriarte sacked vonAppen twice in the final 2 minutes on back-to-back downs, and Waianae held on against the scrappy Mustangs 12-6 in an Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Division quarterfinal last night at Raymond Torii Field.
Kalaheo had a final chance to tie or win on fourth down after Iriarte's heroics, but when vonAppen swung the ball to Phil Tauai for a 23-yard trick pass to Bruce Andrews in the end zone with 11 seconds left, Searider defensive back James Ancog applied pressure and the ball landed out of bounds.
There appeared to be some contact on the play, but Kalaheo coach Chris Mellor wouldn't put the loss on a no-call.
"I know better than that; what am I going to say?" said Mellor, a second-year coach. "I'm not going to second-guess the refs, they had a better angle on it.
"Cody was hurt on the last drive and he was playing with everything he had just to stay in there and compete," he added. "We just came up a play short."
VonAppen finished with 150 yards passing and 59 rushing, looking unstoppable at times on play-action passes and scrambles in the Mustangs' veer-option offense. That is, until Iriarte found his way through twice to punish vonAppen for a combined loss of 18 yards. A late-hit penalty on Waianae one play later gave Kalaheo a final realistic shot.
"It just comes down to the defense. I just thank them 100 percent for keeping me up," Iriarte said. "I didn't play up to my expectations as a player for most of the game, but (the linemen) sucked in the tackle so I could get in free. It comes down to who wanted it more, and we came together as a team."
It was one of three sacks on vonAppen for the Searider defense, which also held him 1 yard short on a keeper early in the quarter at the Waianae 32. The quarterback had earned an apparent first down a play prior before a costly illegal procedure nullified it.
"They came to play, they were well prepared," Waianae coach Daniel Matsumoto said. "Offensively they executed so well, and they have nothing to be ashamed about."
Waianae (7-2) advanced to face OIA Red West opponent Kapolei in a semifinal at Aloha Stadium on Friday. The winner of that game receives an automatic state tournament berth.
In what is believed to be the first meeting between the teams at Waianae -- and first OIA Red playoff game for Kalaheo (5-4) this century -- both teams' quarterbacks opened on fire.
VonAppen and Seariders playcaller BJ Jelf combined to connect on their first 10 passes, leading to all three of the game's scores in the first half. But both teams' defenses tightened after halftime, as the offenses combined to go 0-for-5 scoring on drives in enemy territory. Kalaheo notched five sacks on Jelf.