LIHUE — The Red Raiders fell short of reaching the state finals.
No. 2 seed Kauai High School lost to Damien Memorial, of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, in the semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank Football Championships-Division 1 state tournament.
The Red Raiders were beaten by the Monarchs, 13-10, Saturday afternoon at Vidinha Stadium.
“It’s about finishing. Whether it’s in sports, in life or anything we do, today we couldn’t finish,” said Kauai head coach Derek Borrero. “But what’s more important — I think and I told the boys — is I know we’re all sad and our hearts are hurting right now, but it’s about our character.
“It’s easy to have great character and handle yourselves in a wonderful manner when things are going your way,” he continued. “But today, it didn’t. The ball didn’t bounce our way. It’s fine to be sad and hurting, but we need to stand tall. There’s nothing to be sad about. We’ve had a wonderful season.”
Kauai (5-4, 4-2 KIF) capitalized on turnovers to go into halftime with a 10-6 lead.
After recovering the ball on a fumbled opening kickoff, the Red Raiders scored first on junior kicker Logan Noice’s 45-yard field goal.
In the second quarter, Red Raiders senior running back Jaykob Nakaahiki-Young punched in a 2-yard touchdown run for the 10-6 lead. That score was set up by an interception from junior linebacker Hoku Parbo.
“That’s probably the best feeling ever,” Nakaahiki-Young said of the score. “It’s not going to beat the (game we clinched the KIF championship) where I scored the touchdown, but this has to come close. It’s surreal to score in a game this big and in crucial moments like that. I’m just super thankful my line gave a hole and my coach called my number.”
Kauai, however, couldn’t produce more points in the second half.
Down three points with minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Red Raiders attempted to march down. During that drive, Red Raiders senior receiver Noah Ruiz dropped a pass in open space that could have potentially led to a touchdown.
Kauai eventually turned the ball over on downs with seconds left.
“We were just trying to move the ball. We were just trying to get some first downs,” Borrero said of the last offensive possession. “(Nakaahiki-Young), he made a big catch. That Ruiz miscue would have turned things around. I think if he would have caught that ball, we’d be in the end zone. But we’re not putting it all on one guy. Collectively as an offense, we need to be better and more well-rounded.”
Damien (10-3) got its go-ahead score in the third quarter.
The Monarchs started on their own 29-yard line. After three consecutive first-down conversions, Monarchs senior quarterback Marcus Faufata-Pedrina threw deep for a 31-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Logan Lauti.
Faufata-Pedrina on numerous occasions used his feet to escape Kauai rushers in the backfield for big gains. He accounted for Damien’s first touchdown on a 14-yard run.
“A lot of those scramble plays, we really wanted him to throw the ball — take less beating,” said Damien head coach Eddie Klaneski. “But that’s what Marcus does. He uses his legs to make plays. Sometimes, he just pops out and makes good plays. We’d, obviously, rather have him throwing the football and protecting himself a little bit more. So, we’re going to work on getting the ball out of his hands so he only has to use his legs once in a while.”
Damien faced an uphill battle from the get-go. On the team’s first offensive play, Monarchs freshman rusher Aperamo Sulu suffered a leg injury. Sulu was put into an ambulance soon after.
Also, Damien committed five turnovers — three interceptions and two fumbles on special teams.
“Just resiliency and toughness,” Klaneski said. “We talk about mental toughness with these guys. That was something they had to be mentally tough about and put it in the back burner for now — use it as some fuel for the game. We’re so proud of them, to go through that.
“Obviously, we’re worried about ‘Amo right now. He’s a young freshman kid. First run, he dislocated his ankle. So, we got to find out and see,” he continued. “Hopefully, they’re taking care of him and he’s OK. We’ll be praying for him. We got a great bunch of kids, and they deserved this victory.”
With Saturdays’s win, Damien advanced to the Division I championship game which is set for Nov. 18 at Aloha Stadium. The Monarchs will face with No. 1 Hilo of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, or Maui of the Maui Interscholastic League.
The semifinal between Hilo and Maui was played Saturday night. The result was not available by press time.
“It’s something we worked for the whole season,” Klaneski said. “The senior class, the last three years we’ve been working to get to this point. It’s a great opportunity. It wasn’t the prettiest win that we’ve ever had, but a win is a win. We got a chance to do something special with this group, and we’re excited for them.”
Kauai High ended its season on its home field Saturday. The Red Raiders earned its berth in the state tournament after winning its first Kauai Interscholastic Federation title since 2013.
“Today’s semifinal, we just have to take it with grace and humility,” Nakaahiki-Young said. “Like I’ve said each and every day, all glory goes to the Man above. He brought us here. He brought this team closer and helped us out of situations that we never thought we could get out of. So, I’m just super grateful for the opportunities. Super grateful for these fans, the parents and the coaches, and all the opportunity they’ve given us and the opportunity to play football here.”
11:03 KAUAI Logan Noice 45-yard field goal, 3-0 Kauai
06:40 DAMIEN Marcus Faufata-Pedrina 14-yard run, Shiloh Kaeo PAT no good (miss), 6-3 Damien
02:05 KAUAI Jaykob Nakaahiki-Young 2-yard run, Logan Noice PAT good, 10-6 Kauai
08:35 DAMIEN Logan Lauti 31-yard reception from Marcus Faufata-Pedrina, Shiloh Kaeo PAT good, 13-10 Damien
Passing: Christian Manera, 5-18, 58 yards
Rushing: Christian Manera, 15 carries, 39 yards
Receiving: Jaykob Nakaahiki-Young, 3 receptions, 36 yards
Defense: Kyle Bissara, 10 tackles, 1 interception
Passing: Marcus Faufata-Pedrina, 10-25, 120 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions
Rushing: Marcus Faufata-Pedrina, 14 carries, 75 yards, 1 touchdown
Receiving: Lindon Sevilleja, 4 receptions, 47 yards
Defense: Jon Dalmacio, 5 tackles, 1 sack