Kapaa hoping to remain No. 1 all the way for 1st title

Dare I say it? On this morning of Nov. 9, have we really survived to see this specific sunrise? None of my overwrought senses are actually allowing me to believe it, but I think that election season is officially — over!

At last, we can all exhale together as one. Last night’s election was the culmination of one of the most gut-wrenching and pessimistic 18-month stretches of my life. Dignity and respect seemed to get tossed out the window in favor of mud-slinging and name-calling, so let’s try to rise above the fray now that it’s all come to an end and focus on some good news for a change.

The Kapaa Warriors have their opponent for Saturday’s Division II semifinal affair at Vidinha Stadium. Routing Waialua by a 40-0 tally in the first round were the fourth-seeded Damien Monarchs (7-2, 4-1 ILH).

Unlike Kapaa (7-1, 5-1 KIF), which has been a Division II powerhouse of late and enters this year’s tournament as the top seed, Damien hadn’t earned a D-II playoff victory since way back in 2003. Missing 11 straight postseasons finally came to an end last year, but it took until 2016 for the Monarchs to earn that next win.

Practicing without a defined opponent to focus on can be challenging, but head coach Philip Rapozo told The Garden Island’s Nick Celario last week that Kapaa had been practicing for both Damien and Waialua and would narrow their sights after round one.

It certainly didn’t take all four quarters for those sights to focus fully on Damien. Showing the firepower that led to at least 33 points in four of the team’s first six wins, Damien ran out to a quick lead and never let up en route to their second shutout of the season.

A similar performance seems unlikely against the KIF champs, who had a bit of a wake-up call towards the end of their conference slate. Following six straight shutout wins to start the year, Kapaa lost for the first time all year in a 20-17 upset by Kauai High. Undeterred by that harsh dose of reality, the Warriors managed to regroup for a 15-12 conference-clinching win against Waimea to earn this top seed.

Coaches sometimes believe that a loss can be just what an unbeaten team needs to refocus. Knute Rockne, one of America’s great football coaches, once said “one loss is good for the soul; too many losses is not good for the coach.”

If that one loss leads to a couple of wins in the state tournament, I’m sure Coach Rapozo won’t have to worry about “too many losses” ever again.

Now begins Kapaa’s chance to climb one step further than they ever have before. Getting the No. 1 seed was a welcome surprise, but this is one of the most wide open fields in recent D-II memory. It doesn’t feel like anyone, Warriors included, is much of a favorite against any given opponent.

Despite the negativity of election season, our high school athletes often show us that there is still plenty about which to be optimistic. Instead of the low-hanging fruit and easy digs made during a contentious political battle, youth sports often remain on a higher plane. Opposition and competition can still coexist with respect — and more often than not, young athletes are the best examples of these traits.

Tomorrow’s leaders are usually out there on the field reminding us of exactly how it could and should be done.


David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.


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