Kauai meets 3-time champ in return to D-II final


POSTED: Sunday, November 29, 2009

They've waited three years for another chance.

The Kauai Red Raiders haven't been in the Division II final of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA State Football Championships since 2006, when they lost to King Kekaulike 33-20 at Aloha Stadium.

Since then, Kauai reached the semifinal round ('07) and lost at 'Iolani 35-21, and was ousted in the opening round ('08) by Radford.

With a 28-14 come-from-behind win over Hawaii Prep on Friday, Kauai (10-0) is in position to notch a first in school history: a state football championship. The big question is, will the Red Raiders be ready for the bright lights and their first ranked opponent of the season?

'Iolani (11-2) may be a D-II program, but the Raiders have been in the Star-Bulletin Top 10 all season. They have tradition, winning three of the last four D-II state crowns, and experience up the middle with quarterback Jarrett Arakawa and defensive stoppers Seali'i Epenesa and Kaena Moose.

The other Raiders at 'Iolani—they dropped the “;Red”; from their nickname many years ago—got past Aiea 21-7 on Friday. 'Iolani, ranked No. 5 in the Top 10, has a win over Kamehameha, which plays for the D-I state title next Friday.

Take away the resumes and pedigree, though, and the two teams look more similar than different. Both are run-and-shoot teams that are willing to run more than pass. Kauai rushed for 135 yards on 24 carries against HPA, taking the lead for good in the third quarter. While running back Peleku Yasay has been a workhorse, quarterback Trey Shimabukuro (208 yards, two touchdown passes) made key plays in the clutch against HPA.

“;Two years ago, they were a run-and-shoot team. They've altered it a little bit, but the shell looks the same,”; 'Iolani coach Wendell Look said. “;They're similar to us, but to try and emulate their speed and what they do, it's hard to see how fast they are and how big they are.”;

'Iolani's defense matched up well against Aiea, which operated a balanced offense out of the run-and-shoot set—perhaps similar to Kauai's. Shimabukuro's favorite target on Friday was Kalena Rodero-Workman (four receptions, 94 yards). Yasay had two catches for 63 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown, and he also rushed for 60 yards on 16 carries.

'Iolani struggled at times against a big, physical Aiea defense.

“;Offensively, we were OK, but we turned the ball over four or five times. That's something hopefully we got out of our system,”; Look said.

The veteran coach was just starting to study footage of Kauai yesterday afternoon.

“;Our focus was on getting past Aiea,”; he said. “;We had to find ways to get it done, so that's a plus.”;





        Scores of the Division I state football final since the inception of the tournament in 1999 (with winning head coach in parentheses):

» 1999: Saint Louis 19, Kahuku 0 (Cal Lee)
        » 2000: Kahuku 26, Saint Louis 20 (Siuaki Livai)
        » 2001: Kahuku 21, Saint Louis 14 (Siuaki Livai)
        » 2002: Saint Louis 34, Castle 15 (Delbert Tengan)
        » 2003: Kahuku 27, Saint Louis 26 (Siuaki Livai)
        » 2004: Kamehameha 28, Leilehua 7 (Kanani Souza)
        » 2005: Kahuku 28, Punahou 21 (Siuaki Livai)
        » 2006: Kahuku 7, Saint Louis 6 (Reggie Torres)
        » 2007: Leilehua 20, Saint Louis 16 (Nolan Tokuda)
        » 2008: Punahou 38, Leilehua 7 (Kale Ane)





        Scores of the Division II state football final since the inception of the tournament in 2003 (with winning head coach in parentheses):

» 2003: Aiea 9, Damien 9 (Wendell Say)
        » 2004: Campbell 28, 'Iolani 7 (Tumoana Kenessey)
        » 2005: 'Iolani 34, Radford 20 (Wendell Look)
        » 2006: King Kekaulike 33, Kauai 20 (J.W. Kenton)
        » 2007: 'Iolani 28, Lahainaluna 21 (Wendell Look)
        » 2008: 'Iolani 35, Radford 20 (Wendell Look)