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Kapa‘a makes history in Honolulu rain

HONOLULU — One word describes the Kapa‘a High School football team’s 61-7 win over Kamehameha Schools-Maui Thursday night in soggy conditions at Da Skippa Dias field at Farrington High School: historic!

Participating in the First Hawaiian Bank Hawai‘i High School Division II state championships for at least 18 years since the formation of Division II in 2003, the Thursday night victory brings the iconic koa trophy to Kaua‘i island for the first time in decades.

“It’s awesome,” said Kapa‘a coach Mike Tresler on Friday as the team returned home from the overnight adventure. “It still hasn’t sunk in. I need a few days before I can believe it.”

Previously, the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation representatives finished in runner-up pukas seven times, Kapa‘a coming close on at least four previous years, according to the HHSAA record books on its SportsHigh.com website.

“Congratulations to our Kapa‘a High School Warriors for bringing home the state championship in Thursday’s game,” said Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami. “Your perfect season has been incredible to watch, and it has been truly inspiring to follow your journey this year. All of Kaua‘i is extremely proud of each and every one of you for your hard work, dedication, heart, and sportsmanship displayed in every second on and off the field. This victory is so much more than a victory for Kapa‘a. It is truly a victory for the entire island and it comes at a time when this island needed it the most. Mahalo, congratulations, and I Mua Warrior Nation!”

Rated top seed entering the championship game, Kapa‘a, the Warriors from Kapa‘a went all-team, most notably its offensive line, to defeat the third-seeded Warriors from the Valley Isle in a lop-sided romp in the rain under first-year coach Tresler who took over the reins following the retirement of Coach Philip Rapozo who drove the Kaua‘i Warriors to the No. 2 spot in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no HHSAA championships in 2020.

Solomone Malafu rose to the occasion against the Warriors from the Valley Isle, taking the first ball from scrimmage to a 98-yard touchdown with 8:48 showing in the opening quarter. This was the first of four touchdowns Malafu scored, two coming in the second quarter and his final 43-yard breakout closing the scorebooks with 2:25 showing on the game clock.

Malafu’s scores came on each of his four carries for 152 yards to lead the Kapa‘a ground game.

On the other side of the ball, Malafu marked an interception and a near-interception that was ruled a pass breakup. He also led the Kapa‘a defense with five unassisted stops totaling 14 yards.

Malafu was joined on defense by Bruno Likio and Eli Keoho who also marked five stops.

Defensively, Kapa‘a limited KS-Maui to just 70 yards on the ground, and held the passing attack to 134 yards, the only section where the Maui Warriors outperformed Kapa‘a.

Offensively, the Kapa‘a Warriors churned the pot by amassing a record-breaking 553 yards — 477 yards rushing, and 76 yards passing — to KS-Maui’s 144 yards. Kapono Na-o, in addition to picking up 99 yards on the ground and a touchdown, completed three of his four passing attempts for 76 yards, including a touchdown pass to Nakoa Kimi.

Kaikea Tandal who never touched the ball during the Division II semifinals, added 87 yards, and a touchdown, and Poki Tafea contributed 40 yards, and a touchdown.

KS-Maui blemished the shutout in the third quarter when Keegan Gantala pulled in a 20-yard scoring pass from Po‘okela Aiu, and Trenton Kiesel kicking the point-after-touchdown.

As the game clock ticked to the end of the contest, Kapa‘a snuffed another KS-Maui drive when Keoki Ibaan plucked a Makana Kamaka-Bryce aerial. Malafu drove the pigskin to inside the 10-yard line, and with seconds showing on the game clock, the Kapa‘a Warriors took a knee to kill the clock.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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