Friday, Aug. 19, 2022 |
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KAPAA — Rain began to pour down just as the Warriors hit the practice field Thursday afternoon. But with what’s ahead one week from now, they aren’t letting the weather slow them down.
Kapaa (8-0, 6-0 KIF) got what they wanted, earning the No. 1 seed and a first round bye in the First Hawaiian Bank Football Championships–Division II state tournament.
“We’re very happy. Everything is falling into place the way we dreamt it to be. I think we couldn’t be in a better situation, as far as getting a first round bye and then playing at home,” Warriors head coach Philip Rapozo said during Thursday’s practice at Kapaa High School.
It’s been about two weeks since the Kauai Interscholastic Federation finale, in which Kapaa defeated Waimea, 36-0, to finish the regular season unbeaten.
In the time since, Rapozo said he’s tried to maintain the same routine as if the team had a game that week.
“Every day, just doing the same thing we did all season — getting ready for a game. The only difference is we don’t know who we’re playing yet,” Rapozo said. “We’re working on ourselves right now — getting healthy and just doing what Kapaa needs to do to win.”
In addition, the extra time allows any banged up players to further heal. Rapozo expects to have all his players on hand come next week.
“We should be with our full squad,” Rapozo said. “Everybody is fairly healthy. We got guys a little nicked up, but they’ll be all right. They’ll be ready.”
Kapaa is waiting to find out who its opponent will be in its upcoming semifinal matchup.
The Warriors will face the winner between Maui Interscholastic League Division II champion Lahainaluna Lunas (6-5) and Oahu Interscholastic Federation Division II runner-up Kaimuki Bulldogs (7-4). The first round game takes place 7 p.m. Saturday at the Lunas’ home field.
“That’s a toss-up. They’re both good teams,” Rapozo said. “Lahainaluna is really well-coached and well-disciplined. Kaimuki is a big team. Playing in the OIA, they’re battle-tested. It’s going to be a great game. I think it’s anybody’s game.”
Kapaa will host the winner between the Lunas and Bulldogs Saturday, Nov. 14 at 3 p.m. at Vidinha Stadium.
During the preseason, Kapaa defeated Lahainaluna, 14-10, at Vidinha Stadium and Kaimuki lost to Waimea, 13-0, at Hanapepe Stadium.
Considering those outcomes, Kapaa ought to like its chances no matter whom the Warriors face next week. But Rapozo said he’s taking those preseason results with a grain of salt.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that easy,” Rapozo said. “I think Kaimuki is a better team than they were when they came here and played Waimea. And I’m sure Lahainaluna is better than they were when they came here and played us. I don’t want to count on that.”
“Preseason counts, but yet you’re undermanned with grades. I think everybody has that same problem. You’re lucky if you can start off the season with everybody,” he added. “We went through that, too. We had nine guys out in the preseason. Everyone goes through that.”
As far as which team would be a better matchup in the semifinals, Rapozo said there isn’t a preference.
“We’re just going to be ready for whoever comes. They both have their good things about them. And then there’s things that we can capitalize on both teams,” he said. “We got to take care of Kapaa. If we take care of Kapaa, then we’ll be fine.”
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