OIA Red Playoffs
The matchup: Kapolei (6-3) vs. Farrington (6-2)
Location/Time: Roosevelt, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Head-to-head: Farrington leads 4-0
Biggest margin of victory: Farrington, 26-7, Oct. 24, 2009
Smallest margin of victory: Farrington, 20-10, Oct. 19, 2012
Kapolei’s offensive leadersUpdated: Oct. 20
Farrington’s offensive leadersUpdated: Nov. 18
Is this the year Kapolei finally beats Farrington?
For the fifth time since starting up the varsity football program at Kapolei, coach Darren Hernandez will face the Governors in an elimination game in the OIA Red playoffs.
Kapolei, which finished as the No. 4 seed in the West, beat Kailua last week to earn the right to face Farrington, the top seed out of the East, Friday night at Roosevelt.
Farrington has never lost to Kapolei, winning all four times in the playoffs, including the third-place game in 2007, sending the Govs to the Division I state tournament and the Hurricanes back to the drawing board.
Kapolei has never played in the Division I state tournament. It advanced to the Division II tournament in 2003, losing to Damien in the first round.
This brand of Hurricanes have shown flashes of being good enough to become that first team to reach states in Division I. Kapolei won five of its first six games, highlighted by a 21-point statement win over Leilehua. The Hurricanes ended the regular season with two tough loses, losing by eight to Waianae and four points to Campbell to lose out on an opportunity at a first-round bye.
Kapolei got the win over Kailua to advance to the quarterfinals, but instead of hosting a lesser team, Kapolei has to head to town to play the suddenly-hot Governors.
Farrington dropped out of the Top 10 quickly after the season started, losing by a combined score of 71-19 against Waianae and Kamehameha. Coach Randall Okimoto had 15 days after a 38-3 drubbing at the hands of Kamehameha to get his team ready for the start of league play, but the Govs were still sloppy, needing overtime to win at Castle.
Even as they continued winning, the Govs didn’t quite seem to put it all together until the final game of the regular season, when they beat Kahuku 21-7 to finish 6-0 in the OIA Red East for the second time in three years.
Running back Sanele Lavatai carried the load in that game as he has all year as the leading rusher for the Govs with 799 yards and 12 touchdowns. The big improvement came on defense as lineman Breiden Fehoko gave the Red Raiders fits, forcing double and triple teams that allowed the guys around him, specifically senior Motu Heimuli, opportunities to run down the opposing quarterback.
Farrington looked vulnerable giving up 38 points to pass-happy Moanalua, but controlled Kahuku’s run game, holding the Red Raiders to 83 rushing yards on 32 carries.
That might be a problem for Kapolei, which has had success offensively when it has been able to run the ball.
Running back Triston Pebria, who scored three touchdowns against the Surfriders, finished second in the OIA West averaging 81.8 rushing yards in five games. Senor Mana Reis (64 carries, 364 yards, 5 TDs) and quarterback Aizon Kahana (87-332-2) can also run the ball and if the Hurricanes need to power ahead for a yard or two, they have 230-pound Kainoa Brown ready to take the handoff.
Kahana threw for 203 yards against Kailua but was held under 100 yards passing in six of nine games. In an 18-14 loss to Campbell in the regular-season finale, Kahana completed two passes for a grand total of zero yards.
Kapolei came the closest it’s been to beating Farrington last year, when it was tied 10-10 heading into the fourth quarter before the Govs scored the final 10 points. Kahana threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 10-all and will need a couple of big plays like that one to give Kapolei a chance.
Farrington looked like a legit contender in its win over Kahuku, but it has also looked very beatable at times as well.
Kapolei has closed the gap against Farrington. The Hurricanes returned a lot of players from last year that have been waiting for this very week. Kapolei put Leilehua away earlier this season by forcing turnovers, especially late, and Farrington quarterback Montana Liana has thrown twice as many interceptions (four) as touchdowns (two).
If Kapolei can win the turnover battle, then the Hurricanes could very well be a win away from that elusive spot in the Division I state tournament.
To get you ready for Friday, here’s a look back at last year’s quarterfinal matchup, courtesy of Paul Honda.