LIHU‘E — There will be a new KIF champion this season, but the Kapa‘a Warriors made sure the Waimea Menehune wouldn’t be crowned on a night for its own royalty.
John Das orchestrated a game winning 64-yard scoring drive and Zavier Cummings sealed the deal with a late-fourth quarter interception to lead the Warriors past the Menehune, 22-20, Saturday at Vidinha Stadium on Kapa‘a homecoming night.
The Menehune could have clinched the KIF title with a win, but now the Warriors control their own destiny.
“We found a way to finish,” Kapa‘a head coach Keli‘i Morgado said. “We put ourselves in a hole time and time again and we came back and I’m extremely proud of them.”
The Warriors took a 16-7 lead into the half after Das and Corey Somera-Poyamo each had touchdown runs and the Warriors forced a Menehune safety.
The Menehune got their score on a 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter by Cullen Guiterrez.
At the start of the third quarter, the Menehune jumped out to the lead with two touchdowns in a 14 second span.
After forcing a Menehune three-and-out on the opening drive, the Warriors took the ball with Daniel Reis at quarterback. Morgado occasionally subbed Reis in at quarterback and put Das at wide receiver to give the Warrior attack an extra option.
“John is such a dynamic athlete and can get things done in space and Daniel is such a dynamic passer,” Morgado said. “We had the luxury of using two good quarterbacks.”
For the most part, the duo was successful with Reis completing 6 of 9 passes for 118 yards, but after getting the ball after the punt, Reis’ attempt to hit Das streaking down the sideline fell into the hands of Waimea’s Acetyn Emayo.
Emayo rushed the ball back down field for the 60 yard touchdown, to put the score at 16-14 Kapa‘a.
The Menehune got the ball right back, as the Kapa‘a kick returner fumbled the kickoff and the Menehune pounced on it at the 32 yard line.
It only took Waimea one play to score, as quarterback Niko Delos Reyes connected with Johnathon Tangalin for a 32-yard touchdown.
The Menehune failed to convert a two-point attempt, leaving the Waimea lead at 20-16 with 4:55 left in the third.
In the fourth quarter, the Menehune tried to pad its lead after Emayo had another interception, this time on a Das attempt. But with the Menehune, the Kapa‘a defense stood tall and forced a punt.
The Warriors began the drive on their own 36-yard line and worked their way down the field.
With the ball at midfield, Reis dropped back and hit Das for an 18-yard gain that brought the Warriors deep into the Menehune zone.
Syndreck D’Sio took the ball 17 yards on a hand-off the next play, followed by a 16-yard run from Das to the one-yard line setting up Das’ go-ahead TD run to put the Warriors up 22-20 with 5:59 remaining.
The next Waimea drive ended when an Alika Emayo pass was intercepted by Cummings with 3:10 left in the game.
The Warriors milked the clock on the next drive, and the Menehune were unable to convert a fourth and long in the dying moments to give Kapa‘a the win.
Alika Emayo led the Menehune with 25 yards rushing.
Delos Reyese added 43 yards passing while Emayo chipped in 35 yards.
Das finished with 26 yards passing for the Warriors while adding 67 on the ground. D’Sio had 62 yards rushing.
The win improved the Warrior record to 3-1 in KIF play. The Menehune fell to 4-2.
The Warriors play Kaua‘i on Saturday and will face the Red Raiders once again to finish the fourth quarter of the September game that was suspended due to darkness.
If the Warriors win both games, they win the KIF title. If they split the two games, it will set up a one game playoff with the Menehune.
If the win-less Red Raiders win both games, Waimea will be crowned champions.
“We can’t say we didn’t have our chances tonight,” Waimea head coach Keali‘i Aguiar said. “Now it’s out of our hands. We got to hope for the best yet expect the worst. That’s it.”
Morgado said he’s happy that the future of the season is in the Warrior’s hands, but was quick to point out it’s not over yet.
“Waimea is an excellent team and they’re hoping to play us again. We got to make sure it doesn’t happen,” Morgado said. “The Kaua‘i team hasn’t won a game, but they should have won three by now and they make me nervous.”