LIHUE — The Warriors held off a second-half charge by the Monarchs to get into the state championship game for the second consecutive year.
Kapaa High School’s varsity football team defeated Damien Memorial of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, 21-14, in the semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank State Football Championships – Division II tournament Saturday at Vidinha Stadium.
“Fortunate again. What a game,” said Kapaa head coach Philip Rapozo. “We knew coming in Damien was going to give us a game. I was surprised we jumped out on them at the half. But I told our guys that they’re not done. If we think we’re going to come out and do the same thing in the second half, we’re in trouble.
“I think we got a little tired, and I think they did, too. It was hot,” he continued. “It was really hot. I think it was one of the hottest days we’ve had on this field.”
Kapaa (8-1, 5-1 KIF) got off to a fast start and ended the first half with a three-possession lead.
The Warriors scored its first two touchdowns off runs at the goal line — the first was a 1-yard score from senior defensive lineman Kapena Texeira, and the second was a 2-yard run from sophomore running back Ryno Banasihan.
The third came in the second quarter off an interception returned 79 yards by junior defensive back Dusten Ramseyer-Burdett.
“Our running game. That was our plan — to come in and run the ball, and keep their offense off the field. Keep our defense off the field and just try to control the game,” Rapozo said. “It started to work well. We were driving down the field. We had two scores, and then we had the defensive score. That was big. That’s what won the game.”
Damien then rallied to cut the deficit in the second half.
Damien got its first score off a 25-yard pass by junior quarterback Marcus Faufata-Pedrina to senior receiver James Livingston-Lopez.
The Monarchs then struck again early in the fourth quarter — this time from a 13-yard pass from Faufata-Pedrina to senior tight end Shaun Apiki.
Also, Faufata-Pedrina was able to extend drives by scrambling and evading Warriors tacklers.
“That’s what Marcus does for us. He’s always made plays with his feet, and he made some nice throws down the stretch,” said Damien head coach Eddie Klaneski. “He made a lot of good things happen. We counted on him throughout the season, and he did a great job again tonight to bring us back.”
Rapozo said he and the coaches were shocked by the defense’s inability to bring down the Monarchs quarterback when he improvised.
“That hurt us big time. We missed a lot of tackles,” the Warriors coach said. “We had them a lot of times in the back, and we couldn’t make the tackle. We got to work on that. We work on that every day. We were so surprised. But hey, that’s how it goes. We got to fix it.”
Later in the final period, Damien was again knocking at the door. The Monarchs got down the Warriors 13-yard line, but then senior running back Justice White fumble the ball.
Texeira forced the fumble, and junior running back Akio Tolenna got the recovery to preserve Kapaa’s lead.
“We made a good run of it in the second half, just a few plays here and there, but still made mistakes down the stretch,” Klaneski said. “We fumbled the ball on the 20-yard line in that last drive. That was a killer for us. We needed to score there. It’s just unfortunate for us. Give a lot of credit to Kapaa. They had a great game today, so got to give them some credit.”
Damien got one more possession in the quarter, but was unable to convert on a 4th down and long.
In the ensuing Warriors possession in the final minutes, Texeira bolted for a 31-yard run, forcing Damien to use its final timeout and sealing the win.
“That was the plan. If the game was close and we were ahead, we would try to burn out the clock,” Rapozo said. “We had a couple of packages outside of our base, and it worked out pretty well.”
Damien Memorial ended its season with a 7-3 overall record, going 3-1 in league play en route to winning an ILH Division II championship. The Monarchs defeated Waialua of the Oahu Interscholastic Association in the quarterfinals, 40-0, on Nov. 4.
“It’s hard. I was just trying to explain to them to just think about all the positive things we did this year — all the things we accomplished and going as far as we went,” Klaneski said. “(This is) one of the best teams in Damien’s history, winning seven games and winning a first round playoff game.
“I want them to think about the good things we did and not necessarily focus on this game. We came up short, but I don’t want them to see the bad things about it,” he continued. “I want them to take away the good things we had this season.”
Kapaa will go on to the Division II championship game, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Friday at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
The Warriors will face the winner of the semifinals game between No. 2 Konawaena of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation and No. 3 Lahainaluna of the Maui Interscholastic League. Results of that game were unavailable by press time.
“We got to be so thankful — to win three KIF championships is great (and) to get to the state championship game twice — but we got to finish it. We got to complete it,” Rapozo said. “It’s not going to feel as good if we don’t do it, and that’s been our thing the whole year. Maybe we put too much pressure, but we’re there. We got to take advantage of the situation.”
Damien had a chance at a touchdown in the second quarter. Faufata-Pedrina completed a pass to Livingston-Lopez in the endzone, but was called incomplete because the receiver stepped out of bounds before making the catch inbounds.
In the closing minutes of the third quarter, Warriors senior place kicker Clifton Oliver attempted a 45-yard field goal. The kick had the distance, but the ball bounced off the goal post.