Congratulations, Kaiser and Kauai.
Soak in the glory that comes with your rare victories in the state tournament. Because if history is any judge, the first step was a mere stride in your journey. The second step will be so much bigger.
While the Red Raiders and Cougars were battling to stay alive, ‘Iolani and Lahainaluna have been watching and waiting. The six-time defending champion Raiders host Kauai and the MIL king Lunas wait for a visit from Kaiser. The winners of those games meet for the state Division II title.
When the HHSAA decided that Kaiser was nothing more than the fourth-best team in the division, it didn’t mean much initally. Kaiser beat Konawaena 59-6 and looked invincible doing it. But now is where seeding really comes into play.
Since the Division II tournament began in 2003, a team coming off a bye has lost only three times in 20 tries and enjoyed a stretch between 2004 and 2007 where they won every single game. Here is a look back at those three upsets, and what they meant for the teams that bucked the odds and accomplished them.
Damien 17, Waimea 13 at Vidinha Stadium
The Division II tournament was drawn up with schools like Damien in mind, and the Monarchs took advantage.
Damien’s Lonomana Mikaele picked off a pass from John Palacio with seven seconds left to earn the upset and propel the Monarchs into the first Division II title game against Aiea. It was a stellar defensive effort for the Monarchs, who intercepted Na Menehune three times and got 15 tackles from Fehi Sevelo. Ranson DeCosta rushed 20 times for 113 yards, icluding the go-ahead score from eight yards out with 7:36 remaining while Monarchs quarterback Tevita Williams completed seven of 20 passes for 100 yards. Damien’s defense nearly got it done in the championship, losing to Aiea 9-7 on Kali Kuia’s 34-yard scoring toss to Alden DeMello with 4:43 remaining. The Monarchs had not sniffed the state tournament since, but came within a victory this year when they lost to ‘Iolani in the ILH championship game.
Radford 33, Lahainaluna 27 at War Memorial Stadium
The unseeded Rams continued their road trip with a win over the host Lunas after beating Kauai on the Garden Island the week before. Mosiah Manuma scored three touchdowns, ran for 108 yards and threw for 179 to help the Rams hold off second seed and earn a chance at ‘Iolani. Radford didn’t have the game sealed until Andrew Forester recovered an onside kick with 40 seconds left. The Rams ran out of steam against the defending champions in a rematch of the 2005 final, losing to ‘Iolani 35-20 despite holding a 31:44 to 16:15 edge in time of possession. Radford was held out of the tournament since that appearance until making the semifinals again in 2012 against ‘Iolani and losing.
Kaimuki 28, Lahainaluna 27 at War Memorial Stadium
If Kaiser can take anything from their seeding this year, it is that the thought of beating Lahainaluna on Maui has certainly been done before. Chester Sua scored from three yards out in overtime to bring the third seed home with a spot in the championship against ‘Iolani. Sua finished with 229 yards and three scores on 33 carries despite being held to 45 yards in the first half. Lahainaluna scored on the first play of its first possession in overtime when Jostin Carbajal scored from 20 yards out, but Tytus Lucas missed the extra point for the Lunas. The MIL champs originally lined up for a two-point conversion but a penalty moved them backward and Lucas’ attempt went wide left. The Bulldogs didn’t have any dramatics left for ‘Iolani in the championship, losing 49-14. Sua finished with 77 yards on 16 carries. The Bulldogs went 8-2 the following year but missed out on the state tournament and moved up to the Red division, where they struggled to a 1-7 mark this year.