Headed for a showdown

  • Jason Blasco / The Garden Island

    Kapaa High School football coach Philip Rapozo talks with his top running back, Baba Na-O, center, and quarterback Kahanu Davis Thursday afternoon at practice on campus in preparation for today’s Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II semifinal playoff game against Kaimuki at Vidinha Stadium in Lihue.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island file

    Kapaa High School football players Iosefa Lea‘e, Joshua “Squashy” Baltazar and Loni Tafea pause before kicking off against Kamehameha-Hawaii during a mid-season exhibition game at Vidinha Stadium in Lihue earlier this season.

Kapaa High School head football coach Philip Rapozo emphasized one critical area leading up to the game with Kaimuki at 2 p.m. today at Vidinha Stadium.

Rapozo said the Warriors must win the battle of special teams for his No. 2 seeded Warriors (6-0, 7-1) to advance over the third-seeded visiting Bulldogs (9-1, 10-2).

Though special teams are one-third of the game, Rapozo said the unit is responsible for dictating the flow of the game.

“We are going to have to play great on special teams to beat these guys,” Rapozo said. “In every single game, special teams are so important.”

He said the Warriors have won the battle of field position all season thanks to special teams.

“Having good field position and scoring points with field goals is why our team puts so much time into it,” Rapozo said. “I want to think, in every single game, we’ve won, and special teams have played an important role every single time out.”

A battle in contrasts

Throughout the season, the Warriors’ defense has shut down opponents and permitted only 45 points.

The Bulldogs, in contrast, have generated points in bunches. Their offense has averaged 36.9 points per contest. They’ve generated 416 yards a game, passing for 257 yards, and rushing for 159.9 yards per contest.

“Everyone in their league likes to pass, so they spread the ball out, and they do it well,” Rapozo said. “I think pretty much everyone in that league is in a spread offense, and we have to be ready to defend the pass. That is for sure. I think the last few games against Waimea High and Kauai High have given us confidence in defending the pass.”

Seeking revenge

Last year, the Warriors got the better of this semifinal rematch 20-12 before falling to Lahainaluna 34-32 in the 2018 First Hawaiian Bank state football championship.

Of the many changes both teams have made to their personnel, the Bulldogs made one significant change, and it was at quarterback.

In 2018, the Bulldogs were led by quarterback Jonah Faasoa, who was moved to a slot receiver, allowing sophomore quarterback Jayden Maiava to become the 2019 signal caller. Standing 6 feet, 5 inches tall, Rapozo said Maiava’s ability to throw the football presents a challenge for the Warriors.

“I think we have a good scheme, and we are confident in our players,” Rapozo said. “In a game like this, it’s all about matchups. We have to play as a team, and can’t have guys trying to do their own thing. We are a unit when our team plays like they are capable of and everyone does their jobs, and if we do that, we will be successful.”

For more information: Hawaii Athletic Association will post real-time statistics online at http://www.statbroadcast.com.

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