The Warriors could not hang on despite a 19-point lead at halftime.
Kapaa High School’s varsity football team lost to top-seeded Lahainaluna High School of the Maui Interscholastic League in the championship game of the 2018 First Hawaiian Bank Football Championships–Division II state tournament.
The No. 2 Warriors fell to the No. 1 Lunas, 34-32, Saturday afternoon at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
“Helluva game. So proud of this Kapaa Warrior team,” said Kapaa head coach Philip Rapozo in a phone interview from Honolulu. “Resilient. They kept fighting. Yeah, we didn’t win the game, but I’m so proud of these guys — the way they handled themselves and the way they fought until the end.”
Kapaa (7-3 overall, 1-1 HHSAA) went into the break with a 26-7 lead.
Warriors junior quarterback Kahanu Davis threw two touchdowns and ran for one in the first half. One of his passing touchdowns was for 52 yards to senior receiver Jai Alapai.
Davis ended the game 5-9 for 83 yards passing, three touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 48 yards and one TD on six carries.
Warriors senior running back Ryno Banasihan nearly broke the 200-yard mark, totaling 197 yards rushing on 25 carries.
“We executed our game plan on both sides of the ball,” Rapozo said. “We did what we had to do. When you play a great team like Lahaina, there’s two halves. We won the first one, and they won the second one.”
Lahainaluna (11-0, 2-0 HHSAA) then answered back with four unanswered touchdowns, three of which were scored by Lunas junior running back Joshua Tihada.
A four-yard run by Tihada in the middle of the fourth quarter gave Lahainaluna a 27-26 lead. A 23-yard run by junior rusher Derek Perez padded Lahainaluna’s lead to 34-26.
Tihada ended with 152 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns on 27 carries. Tihada also had a 28-yard reception for a TD in the first quarter.
“I think we kind of ran out of gas, for one thing,” Rapozo said. “When you play in a game like this, physical and close, things like that are going to happen. Like I said, that first half, we were in charge. And then the second half, they took over the second half, and they did enough to win the game.”
Kapaa scored one more touchdown to cut into Lahainaluna’s lead on a two-yard pass from Davis to senior running back Tyson Tranilla. The ensuing two-point conversion failed.
Though the Warriors cut the deficit to two points, the team had no more timeouts. With about two minutes left, the Lunas ran out the clock to win their third consecutive Division II state football championship.
“This team would never give up. If we could have stopped them on third down and get the ball back, who knows?” Rapozo said. “Seconds, whatever time we could have, I felt like we could come back and win that game because we would need a field goal at that time.”
Saturday’s slate of championship games at Aloha Stadium included No. 1 Hilo of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation against No. 2 Waipahu of the Oahu Interscholastic Association for the Division I championship and No. 1 Saint Louis of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu versus No. 2 Mililani of the OIA for the Division I-Open championship.
Results for both the Division I and the Division I-Open championships were not available by press time.
“Great season. This team, the love on this team, the coaches, the respect, working together (was great),” Rapozo said of Kapaa’s 2018 campaign. “These boys, they loved each other. They worked hard for each other. They just kept fighting. Coaches worked well together. We just had a great season.
“Nothing to be ashamed of. Falling short to a great team like Lahaina, I’m pretty sure they feel like they got away with one. We just came out on the shorter side of the stick. We’d be more than glad to get another chance next season.”
New state record
Warriors senior kicker Chysen Lagunes-Rapozo booted a 55-yard field goal in the second quarter to set a new Hawaii state record for longest field goal.
The previous field goal record was 53 yards set in 2014 by Punahou School’s Jet Toner.
Lagunes-Rapozo also converted from 45 yards just before halftime.
“Being from the KIF, we don’t get the exposure like all the other islands, but we knew what he was,” Rapozo said of Lagunes-Rapozo. “The KIF knew what he was, but nobody else knew. I knew he’d prove himself if he had the opportunity, and he did it.”
Still no state title for Kauai
Kauai will again have wait at least one more year for that elusive championship. The Kauai Interscholastic Federation has yet to win a football state title.
This was Kapaa’s third trip to the Division II championship game in the last four years. Twice, the Warriors lost to Lahainaluna (2018, 2016).
“You know, that’s sports. That’s football. I hope we get three more chances,” Rapozo said. “It doesn’t come easy, but I hope we get three more, five more. Whatever it takes for us to win a state championship, we’d be more than happy to take the opportunity.”
07:52 LAHAINALUNA Joshua Tihada 28-yard reception from Nainoa Irish, Kaihulali Casco PAT good, 7-0 Lahainaluna
05:59 KAPAA Lanakila Pagtolingan 3-yard pass from Kahanu Davis, Chysen Lagunes-Rapozo PAT good, 7-7
00:59 KAPAA Jai Alapai 52-yard reception from Kahanu Davis, Chysen Lagunes-Rapozo PAT no good (blocked), 13-7 Kapaa
06:55 KAPAA Kahanu Davis 5-yard run, Chysen Lagunes-Rapozo PAT good, 20-7 Kapaa
02:48 KAPAA Chysen Lagunes-Rapozo 55-yard field goal, 23-7 Kapaa
00:00 KAPAA Chysen Lagunes-Rapozo 45-yard field goal, 26-7 Kapaa
03:46 LAHAINALUNA Joshua Tihada 1-yard run, Kaihulali Casco PAT good, 26-14 Kapaa
11:55 LAHAINALUNA Joshua Tihada 2-yard run, Kaihulali Casco PAT good, 26-21 Kapaa
07:02 LAHAINALUNA Joshua Tihada 4-yard run, 2-point conversion failed, 27-26 Lahainaluna
04:05 LAHAINALUNA Derek Perez 23-yard run, Kaihulali Casco PAT good, 34-26 Lahainaluna
02:17 KAPAA Tyson Tranilla 2-yard pass from Kahanu Davis, 2-point conversion failed, 34-32 Lahainaluna
Passing: Kahanu Davis, 5-9, 84 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interceptions
Rushing: Ryno Banasihan, 26 carries, 197 yards
Receiving: Jai Alapai, 1 reception, 52 yards, 1 touchdown
Defense: Keilan Ibaan-McCarthy, 15.0 tackles
Passing: Nainoa Irish, 10-15, 132 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
Rushing: Joshua Tihada, 29 carries, 155 yards, 3 touchdowns
Receiving: Kaihulali Casco, 3 receptions, 34 yards
Defense: Nyles Pokipala-Waiohu, 9.0 tackles
Info from Hawaii High School Athletic Association and ScoringLive.
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or email@example.com.