Iolani’s Marciel in no rush to win first state title
Great things in life sometimes require a little extra patience.
For the Iolani Raiders, that patience was tested prior to game time. The scheduled kickoff for the Division II state championship was minutes away and Iolani had finished its pregame routine.
There was a slight problem, however. Lahainaluna was nowhere to be seen.
"I was just confused," Raiders quarterback Kela Marciel said. "We were all stoked ready to play and suddenly it was like, 'ho, where are they'?"
The Lunas arrived at Aloha Stadium just after the scheduled 5 p.m. start, delaying the game 20 minutes. Yet it was the Raiders who seemed to be hurt by the delay as Lahainaluna busted out to a two-touchdown lead less than 7 minutes in.
Marciel completed just one of his first six passes with an interception and the Raiders seemed on the brink of being blown out.
"Down 14-0, I had some doubts," the junior quarterback said. "Other guys were yelling at each other and getting down on each other, but I just flushed it away."
Displaying the maturity of a veteran, Marciel put the Raiders on his shoulders the rest of the game. From that point on, he was 16 of 22 for 284 yards and three touchdowns to lead Iolani to a come-from-behind 28-21 victory to claim its second Division II state championship in three years.
"Kela just needed to settle down and get a feel for the game," Iolani coach Wendell Look said. "Our kids got overanxious and against a team like Lahainaluna, you have to play disciplined."
Marciel struggled early to connect on the out routes, which are used to set up the deep ball. The Lunas were also able to get consistent pressure on him early, not allowing him to give his receivers time to get open.
But as the game wore on, the pressure became less and Marciel suddenly had all day to throw. That created some tough matchups for the Lunas secondary, and Marciel made them pay.
"Kela's fortunate that he has a lot of weapons on offense, too," Look said. "Plus, the O-line really played well. You couldn't ask for a better second half."
Marciel hit three different receivers for touchdowns. Lionel Fujioka was one of his favorite targets with five catches for 54 yards, but injured his left ankle on a catch late in the third quarter.
"When I caught it, I heard something pop but the trainers said it's just a bad sprain," Fujioka said. "Either way it feels good. More than good."
With the game tied, Marciel saved his best for last, completing all five of his passes for 62 yards on the eventual game-winning drive. Justin Yamamoto capped it with a 3-yard scoring run that proved to be the difference.
"When you're younger, you always picture being down seven and leading your team back," Marciel said. "I just had to go out there and do it."