Big ‘O’ carries Radford to finals

Radford's Kodi Ongory-Mathias was impossible to stop on the ground Saturday against Konawaena. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.
Radford’s Kodi Ongory-Mathias was impossible to stop on the ground Saturday against Konawaena. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

With Radford’s roller-coaster 48-46 win over a vastly underrated Konawaena squad on Saturday night, there’s is one final step for the unbeaten Rams (12-0) and their dream of a state championship.

Kapaa, which blanked a young Lahainaluna team 24-0, shares that same dream. Maybe shares isn’t the right word. Sharing anything but good sportsmanship is all Radford and Kapaa will be doing on Friday night in the Division II title game of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships.

“I’m proud of our kids. We’re glad that we’re able to win this game move on to next week,” Rams coach Fred Salanoa said.

All season long, the Rams had been leak-proof defensively, permitting a very stingy 52 points in 11 games. On Saturday, the offense carried the load, but the Rams’ ‘D’ never let up in terms of effort. They got a huge 47-yard fumble return for a TD by linebacker Jordan Walker to open the lead to 36-19 late in the third quarter. The speed of the 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior was eye-popping.

“Jordan is a player and he’s a Pac-12 guy. We’re fortunate to have him for one more year,” Salanoa said.

For the most part, though, it was the offense that kept Radford in front. Salanoa is about balance. He set passing records as a young slinger at Eastern Washington back in the day. But his Radford squads have always offered balance offensively while playing stout defense.

“Our running backs do a great job. They practice really hard. Our offensive line did a great job,” Salanoa said.

The numbers: 541 yards of total offense, including 249 rushing yards. Kodi Ongory-Mathias rushed for a season-high 176 yards on 26 carries, and LB/RB Ace Faumui finished with 58 yards on 15 attempts.

Salanoa praised his quarterback, Quintin Iriarte, who was 18-for-32 for 288 yards and three TDs. He was picked twice.

“He’s been getting a lot of grief from me at practice, but I’m really proud of him tonight.”


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