LIHUE — The Warriors defense has been the backbone of the team all season long. When it faced adversity for the first time, it came through when the team needed it most.
Kapaa High School’s varsity football team defeated Pearl City of the Oahu Interscholastic Association in a first round game of the First Hawaiian Bank Football Championships — Division II tournament.
The Warriors beat the Chargers 30-22 at Vidinha Stadium on Saturday.
“We had the game plan right off the start. We just weren’t executing it,” said Kapaa head coach Philip Rapozo. “I guess the nerves and jitters (got to them). This is the first time we played a team that got us on our heels in passing.
“It’s just execution. A little on alignment we had to do, but for most of the first half, we just didn’t execute,” he added. “The first half, we weren’t containing (their quarterback). That was the plan — to contain. But we did not. We cannot let him get out of the pocket.”
With 2 minutes left on the game clock, the Chargers found themselves on 4th and 1 in Warriors’ territory. Running back Dominic Maneafaiga rushed up the middle, but was denied of a first down.
On the ensuing Kapaa possession, Pearl City’s defense surrendered a facemask penalty and a first down. Two kneel downs later, the Warriors were victorious.
“We stuck as a team today. We didn’t give up. We all gelled together and found a way to fight,” said Kapaa senior linebacker Austyne Carvalho-Toloai.
Senior running back Shain Davis led Kapaa’s rushing attack with 102 yards on 10 carries, including a 41-yard romp to pay dirt in the third quarter.
“The first half, we tried everything we learned from film but it didn’t work,” Davis said. “In the second half, we just came out playing our game.”
Though Pearl City had a 22-14 lead at halftime, it couldn’t add to it during the second half. The Chargers had several opportunities down the stretch because of Kapaa penalties, but couldn’t punch one into the end zone to possibly tie the game.
“We came up short, but give credit to these kids. They tried their best and gave me 100 percent. I cannot ask for better than that,” said Pearl City head coach Robin Kami. “We had some injuries on the line. It’s not an excuse, but we had some injuries. A couple of D-linemen had to play both ways and you could see the fatigue at the fourth quarter.
“Kapaa did a great job in the second half. They made the adjustments on us,” the Chargers coach added. “Got to give them credit when credit is due.”
Chargers senior quarterback Jordan Taamu recorded 256 yards passing and scored all three of Pearl City’s touchdowns through the air. He also had 78 yards rushing.
“They made a couple of changes and started blitzing on me. They knew that was our weakness,” Taamu said. “We tried to block them as much as we can. They just found a way to get on top of us. We tried our hardest and played our best out there.”
Kapaa will fly to Oahu to face No. 2 Iolani of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu on Saturday in the semifinals of the tournament.
“I know we’re going up against a really good passing team. So this helped us,” Rapozo said about looking forward to the next playoff game. “I know they’re very disciplined. They’ve always been. They execute well. We just want to play football. That’s why we’re here. We’ll play the best to be the best.”