ALMOST FAMOUS: 2001 Iolani Raiders

Blake Wong was a force for Iolani in 2001. Dennis Oda / Star-Advertiser

Hawaii Prep World will highlight 10 of the best football teams in Oahu history that never earned a division, league or state crown.

For a team to be on this list, it inevitably had to have suffered an upset loss that probably lived with the players and coaches for a long time.

Teams are ranked by positive point differential, excluding the 2010 Kahuku and 2018 St. Francis squads that had games wiped out due to the use of an ineligible player. Add in those teams, and the Red Raiders would be No. 1 on the list and the Saints would be No. 3. They suffered their own kinds of heartbreak, but never on the field.

1970 Waipahu and 2003 Kapolei were featured previously.

This time, Wendell Look’s‘s 2001 Iolani crew and its point differential of 21.4.

The Raiders had every reason to be excited after outscoring Kearney of California and Kaimuki 78-0 in the preseason and kept its unbeaten season going with ILH wins over Damien and Pac-Five.

As impressive as those victories were, the No. 4 ranked Raiders impressed the state the most in a loss to Saint Louis.

Iolani’s defense held Bobby George to eight completions on 21 attempts for 113 yards but lost 13-7. Linebacker Blake Wong had the game of his life for Iolani, forcing a fumble and intercepting two passes.

His second pick put Iolani on the Crusaders’ 2-yard line, but quarterback Kila Kaaihue failed to convert when his fourth down pass fell incomplete. Kaaihue hit Royce Yokono for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but Iolani’s comeback fell short when Saint Louis defensive lineman Tolifili Liufau sacked Kaaihue on fourth down with 3:01 remaining.

Iolani recovered from the loss with two more wins, 33-0 over Pac-Five behind Teo Bennett‘s 185 rushing yards and 47-0 over Damien when Raynold Stowers ran for 122. The Raiders found their title hopes dashed after that, losing 28-14 to Kamehameha at Kaiser. Kamehameha scored two touchdowns in the final 1:49 after Kala Kaaihue helped tie the score with a pick-six with 2:47 left. Iolani tried an onside kick that was recovered by Kamehameha’s Noah Peterson to change the momentum.

Iolani then beat Punahou 14-7 to close the season at 7-2.


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