JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Iolani head coach Wendell Look earned his second state football championship last night.
Determined Raiders bring title back to Oahu
Lahainaluna showed up late, but began with a bang. Iolani had all the time in the world to prepare, but came out sluggish from the gate.
Yet it was the Raiders who made plays down the stretch to take their second First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division II State Championship in three years, 28-21 over the Lunas.
Kela Marciel shook off a 1-for-6 start and an interception on Iolani's opening drive to pass for 290 yards and three touchdowns, and was sacked just once thanks to his quick feet in the pocket. Justin Yamamoto went for 88 yards and the game-winning score with 5 minutes, 21 seconds left in the game.
Seemingly every time the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion Raiders (6-6) faced a long yardage situation in the second half, Marciel connected with one of Iolani's talented receivers. No play illustrated that better than a 12-yard pass to Ronnie Hirokawa in the third quarter to tie the game at 21. Marciel could have been sacked, but somehow released the ball to Hirokawa for the touchdown as he was being dropped.
"Coach (Wendell Look) calls our offense a big-play offense," said receiver Lionel Fujioka, who made a big catch to set up the tying score but went out with a hurt left foot in the process. "Everybody just made the big play. That's what it was."
Combined with Marciel's final line of 17-for-28 passing, Iolani's defense packed the box after halftime and denied the Lunas on several of the same plays they had run for big gains in the first half. Lahainaluna was limited to two first downs and gained only 79 of its 268 yards of total offense in the second half.
Lahainaluna showed no ill effects from arriving at Aloha Stadium almost exactly at the 5 p.m. kickoff time because of heavy traffic. The first Lunas walked in at 5:05, and the team only had 10 minutes of warm-up time instead of the usual 30. Meanwhile, Iolani was thoroughly warmed up, but its players had to cool their heels in the locker room for another 15 to 20 minutes before a delayed start time.
"That didn't matter at all," Lunas coach Bobby Watson said. "Ten minutes before the game, 10 minutes after the game. You guys are looking for excuses why we lost the game. There is no excuse."
The Lunas (9-2), in their first state title game after reaching the Division II and I semifinals in 2003 and 2004, fired the first salvo from their playbook of fake handoffs in their spread offense. Quarterback Jake Manning ran in a 35-yard touchdown untouched when he hid the ball on his left and turned the corner.
"I'll have nightmares seeing him run around that corner," Look said.
Manning followed by hitting his twin brother, Jayson, for a 24-yard score on his first catch of the year.
But Marciel, undaunted, hit Reid Furukawa on a rollout pass from 46 yards out to claw within a touchdown, and connected with Fujioka on a 2-yarder to knot things up at 14 early in the second quarter.
Lahainaluna's power game kept right on rolling, capitalizing on a Lake Casco 30-yard punt return to the Iolani 25 before Bryson Williams bulled his way in to give the Lunas a 21-14 halftime lead.
"Tough as nails. Like I was saying all along, they were tough as nails," Look said. "They come in, they're late, (have) 5 minutes, 10 minutes to warm up, and they come out and they kick our okoles in the first half. I have so much respect for (coach) Bobby (Watson) and his team. Tremendous job that they did."
Iolani 28, Lahainaluna 21
At Aloha Stadium
Lah--Jake Manning 35 run (kick failed)
Lah--Jayson Manning 24 pass from Jake Manning (Simione Vehikite run)
Iol--Reid Furukawa 46 pass from Kela Marciel (Kodi Look kick)
Iol--Lionel Fujioka 2 pass from Marciel (Look kick)
Lah--Bryson Williams 2 run (Ivan Delaney kick)
Iol--Ronnie Hirokawa 12 pass from Marciel (Look kick)
Iol--Justin Yamamoto 3 run (Look kick)
RUSHING -- Iolani: Yamamoto 18-88, Marciel 10-40, Furukawa 1-1. Lahainaluna: Kailas McGhee 9-63, Jak. Manning 8-54, Jacob McCarthy 5-40, Blaise Smith 5-33, Vehikite 1-21, Lake Casco 9-12, Bryson Williams 1-2.
PASSING -- Iolani: Marciel 17-28-1-290. Lahainaluna: Jak. Manning 4-8-1-43.
RECEIVING -- Iolani: Fujioka 5-54, Hirokawa 5-37, Furukawa 3-134, Aaron Fong 2-36, Yamamoto 2-29. Lahainaluna: Jay. Manning 1-24, McGhee 1-10, Chris Wanke 1-5, Williams 1-4.