Even while sitting in a wheelchair, Bryan Quintero might have been trying to devise a way onto the field Friday night.
He watched the proceedings wearing his jersey and shoulder pads as Leilehua rolled to a 54-17 win to advance to the quarterfinals.
“I think he was trying to wheel his way back in,” Leilehua coach Nolan Tokuda said. “We had to keep telling him back up.”
Quintero was a member of Leilehua’s special-teams units and provided another shot of inspiration as the Mules kept their season alive.
“We hadn’t seen him in a couple weeks after his surgery, so just having him out there I wanted to make sure we honored him,” Tokuda said.
“He put his heart and soul into his brothers here, so I want to make sure we share the love back to him.”
Quintero rejoined the team in time to see the Mules put together perhaps their sharpest performance of the season.
Leilehua scored on its first two plays from scrimmage and averaged nearly 13 yards per play in taking a 40-10 lead into halftime.
The Mules scored on seven on their first eight possession and had three one-play scoring drives.
Ikaika Piceno scored three touchdowns in the first half, while Tristin Kamaka and Randy Neverson had two each. Quarterback Justin Jenks threw for two scores.
After dropping three of four games in OIA Red West play, Leilehua has scored 120 points in the past two weeks.
Neverson, who ran for 170 yards in the regular season, finished with 175 on Friday. He covered 117 on his first two carries of the game, a 61-yard touchdown run and a 56-yard sprint to set up the Mules’ next score.
The Mules will now begin preparing for a rematch with OIA Red West champion Mililani in the quarterfinals next Saturday. The Trojans won the regular-season meeting 44-14 on Sept. 27.