HANAPEPE — Kapa‘a High School scored two touchdowns in the final seven minutes of play Saturday to escape the clutches of the Menehune, 20-6, before a celebratory Menehune homecoming audience at Hanapepe Stadium.
Kapono Na-o, the sophomore quarterback for the Warriors, hit two scoring passes, and powerful Solomone Malafu broke through the Menehune’s goal-line defensive effort for a score to pull Kapa‘a out of a 7-6 edge that stood for most of the game.
Na-o hit Jaysten Pimental on a long bomb to open the scorebooks, Kala Velasco’s boot splitting the uprights for the early 7-0 bulge.
The Menehune gave the audience reason to cheer when they responded in the second quarter. Menehune quarterback Tresten Shigematsu, scrambling and passing for most of the game, found Anson Lazaro in the end zone on a one-yard toss with 5:13 showing on the clock.
With the audience on the edge of their seats, the point-after touchdown failed and Waimea chased a one-point deficit until late in the contest when Malafu plucked a Shigematsu aerial a yard shy of the end zone. The big 6’1”, 225-pound junior ran the interception back out to the 35-yard line, only to have the ball turned back to Waimea on a roughing-the-passer infraction.
The Menehune second chance at scoring was stymied by another turnover, and in the ensuing drive Na-o found Canaan Coleman for a near-cross-field bomb to the Menehune 30-yard line with 7:22 showing. Kapa‘a capitalized on the turnover when Na-o found Coleman in the end zone with 5:42 left in the contest. Velasco upped the ante, 14-6, on a successful PAT boot.
After Waimea failed to convert on its possession, Kapa‘a special teams member Keanu Ebesu set the stage for Kapa‘a’s final score on a punt return to their own 39-yard line. Na-o hit Conor Payomo to get to the Waimea 31-yard line before Malafu capped the drive on a 13-yard charge to the end zone with 1:50 showing on the game clock.
The win Saturday keeps Kapa‘a undefeated through the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation season with one more game scheduled on its calendar, the homecoming meeting against Waimea Dec. 11 at Vidinha Stadium in Lihu‘e.
Waimea will face Kaua‘i High School Saturday in the Red Raiders’ homecoming game scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. at Vidinha Stadium.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.