KAPAA — For their first game playing on their newly renovated home field, the Warriors finished the season in style.
Kapaa High School’s varsity football team defeated Kauai 52-0 in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation season finale Saturday at the Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex.
“Today, I think we played the best football of the year. It feels great knowing that we’re going into the (state) playoffs with a win like this,” said Warriors head coach Philip Rapozo. “I think just getting past this game was a big challenge. … They proved we’re ready. We’re ready for anything.”
Senior offensive guard and team captain Maka Ah Loo got a few snaps at running back deep in the red zone and punched in a 5-yard rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Ah Loo said he dedicated that touchdown to his late coach, Dean “Big Daddy” Petro.
“That was emotions I couldn’t handle. I didn’t even know what to do with myself,” Ah Loo said about scoring that touchdown.
“This is really one of the best teams I’ve ever played with. All of the boys are really tight. We all came out to work every day at practice. Everybody had a good head on their shoulders — good focus,” he added about this year’s Warriors team.
After the game, Kauai (3-3 KIF) head coach Tommy John Cox thanked his players for giving him their best — and his players thanked him back.
Though it wasn’t the result he had hoped for from his last game at the helm as the Red Raiders head coach, Cox said he wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
“Kind of mixed emotions right now. I’m sure it won’t settle in for a while. I’ll miss coaching and I’ll definitely miss these kids,” Cox said. “For the past eight years, these guys were pretty much my life. Now it’s time to move on.
“The kids worked hard all season long,” he added. “We’ve suited up 24-25 guys all year. When they make mistakes, that kind of stuff happens. But that’s life. We’re going to move on. Kapaa is a good football team. Best of luck to them at the state tournament.”
Red Raiders senior linebacker Nicholas Gabriel shared the same sentiments as his coach.
“This season’s been a roller coaster. We had our ups and we had our downs, but it was fun. Overall, it was fun,” Gabriel said. “If I could do it over again, I would — no doubt.”
Kapaa (6-0 KIF) now looks forward to First Hawaiian Bank Football State Championships — Division II tournament, which begins Nov. 8. The Warriors’ first opponent has yet to be determined.
“I think this team can compete for the state championship,” Rapozo said. “Kauai High proved that last year. Now we’re going to do our part and try to bring it home to Kauai.”