LIHU‘E — For the first time this year, it looked like the Kaua‘i High School Red Raiders had it.
Up 7-0 in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, the Red Raiders were driving the ball inside the Kapa‘a Warriors’ zone. After a key fourth down conversion by Chase McFadden, the Raiders elected to go to the air on first down on the Warriors’ 28-yard line.
Kaua‘i quarterback Trey Aguano dropped back and fired deep to a receiver streaking up the right sideline. But the ball never found its man. The pass was deflected and found the hands of Kapa‘a’s Keane Agoot, who ran down field and dashed the hopes of the Red Raiders’ first win.
Agoot’s 79-yard interception return, followed by a Syndreck D’Sio two-yard touchdown score, paved the way for Kapa‘a, as the Warriors scored 16 unanswered points in the final quarter to beat the Red Raiders, 16-7, Saturday night at Vidinha Stadium.
The Kapa‘a win severely cripples the Red Raiders’ chances for an ninth-straight title. In order for the Red Raiders to have a shot, they’ll have to win out and Kapa‘a will need to beat Waimea.
This would force the postponed game between Kapa‘a and Kaua‘i from earlier this season to resume. The Red Raiders would have to win that game to force a three-way tie for first place.
Kaua‘i gave its best effort of the year in trying to prevent the end of its season. In the first half the Red Raiders defense was impenetrable, with the defensive line stuffing anything that came its way.
The offense clicked on the final drive of the first half, as Aguano led the Raiders up field and Dreyke Smith-Butac punched in a 1-yard score to give the Red Raiders their first lead of the season with two seconds left in the half.
Coach Aguano said it was nice to see his offense click in the first half opposed to waiting for the second like they have earlier this year, and that his team went into the locker room with confidence.
On the Kapa‘a end, it was the exact opposite.
“Our guys were pretty discouraged and frustrated,” Morgado said. “That was an impressive drive by Kaua‘i to end the half to score with hardly any time left on the clock.”
The third quarter featured several three-and-outs and turnovers for both squads up. Then as the third quarter expired and the Red Raiders drove looking to put the game away, Morgado’s squad finally had the big play it was looking for with Agoot’s interception.
“That was huge,” he said. “You always wait for someone to make a play for you and give your team a boost. At that time we needed it. We kept shooting ourselves in our foot and that was huge.”
Coach Aguano said the call for the pass was a mistake on his part.
Following the interception and the subsequent Warrior touchdown, the momentum was directly in the hands of the boys in green.
On Kaua‘i’s next possession, Trey Aguano scrambled for 20 yards but fumbled as he attempted to get to the sideline. The Warriors recovered and eventually converted an 18-yard field goal by T.J. West with 2:29 remaining to put the score at 10-7.
Kaua‘i couldn’t convert a fourth down attempt on its next drive and the Warriors ran the clock down on their next possession and capped the game when John Das scooted into the endzone for a 3-yard touchdown run.
With the win, the Warriors improve to 2-1 in KIF play. The loss sends the Red Raiders to 0-3.
Aguano said with two games remaining, he’s still looking for his team to improve and secure a win in KIF play and Saturday evening showed that the team is close.
“Kaua‘i High isn’t used to losing three in a row,” he said.
In JV action, the Warriors beat the Red Raiders 36-0.