The ‘Iolani Raiders made it to the state tournament only to lose by a single point to Waipahu. It’s the second time an ‘Iolani team has had to board the bus wondering where they could have squeezed out one more point in a state tournament game. ‘Iolani’s Wendell Look joined Saint Louis’ Cal Lee as the only coaches to lose multiple games by a single point in the state tournament.
Despite that, the Raiders can still look back and consider all of the things that did go right, winning eight games for the first time since 2013 and enjoying an incredible 22.4 point differential, the highest in program history and the first time over 20 since Look’s 2001 crew. After three straight losing seasons, the Raiders bounced back in a big way in 2018. The offense actually slipped from last year’s juggernaut, averaging 33.8 points per game compared to last year’s 35.4 mark, which was the best in the program’s long history. The defense was where ‘Iolani really improved, yielding only 11.4 points per game after giving up 34.3 a year ago. That 11.4 mark is the lowest for the school since 2001 and only the third time in Look’s 28 seasons they averaged fewer than two touchdowns allowed.
2018 TOP PERFORMANCES
Junior quarterback Jonah Chong was almost the entire show for ‘Iolani’s passing game, throwing for 2,162 yards and 21 touchdowns to 11 interceptions, with backups Sam Faumuina and Tate Shimao combining to throw for three scores without a pick. Chong picked the wrong time to be inaccurate, throwing four interceptions in the state loss to Waipahu, but he had more than two in only two of the team’s 11 games. He had his best effort in the middle of the season against Leilehua, throwing for 312 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions while completing a career-high 31 attempts. Chong led the team in passing in every game and helped the school have a 300-yard game for the second year in a row. Chong didn’t win a state game, but he did become the eighth quarterback in school history to throw a touchdown in the big dance even tough he is the only one to complete fewer than 50 percent of his passes (44 percent) on the big stage.
Senior Kaua Nishigaya led the Raiders in rushing in the last 10 games and was the only player to have a carry in all 11, compiling 983 yards and 16 touchdowns in 206 attempts. That was a yeoman effort, as his backups combined to tote the rock only 56 times. Add in Chong being sacked and team rushes, and the number rises to nearly half of Nishigaya’s total with 105. Rexton Suzuki led the reserves with 82 yards on 22 carries with two scores. Nishigaya’s biggest breakout game came against rival Damien at the stadium, taking the handoff 41 times and turning it into 226 yards but failing to score a touchdown. Nishigaya scored in his final five games, with three of them over the century mark for yards, but was held to a season-low 29 against Waipahu.
Chong had plenty of targets to hit this season, led by junior Carter Kamana with 84 catches for 959 yards and eight touchdowns, the team leader in all three categories. Jonah Miyazawa and Rayden Kaneshiro stepped up when Kamana was blanketed, combining for 86 catches for 995 yards and 10 celebrations. Nishigaya caught at least one pass out of the backfield in every game, compiling 15 receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Even with Kamana’s brilliance, the Raiders have gone two straight years without a receiver eclipsing 1,000 yards in a season. Kamana’s biggest game came in an early visit to Kailua, where he caught eight passes for 146 yards and two scores, but he was on fire in a two-game stretch against Leilehua and Damien, hauling in 25 targets for 281 yards. Things got tougher after that, he was held under 100 yards in each of his final four games and only broke the plane once. It was the first time’ Iolani went four straight games without a 100-yard receiver since 2014. Kamana has 136 yards receiving in the state tournament, the most by an ‘Iolani player who didn’t caught a touchdown pass. Miyazawa ended his ‘Iolani career second in school history with 25 receptions in the state tournament and third in yards with 314. Only Trevyn Tulonghari (30-388 in six games) beat him in both categories and Tanner Nishioka (402 yards in four games) is the only Raider with more yards in the state tournament.
Look’s boys had two shutouts this season and held Aiea to just a field goal, the first time the school ate two doughnuts in the same season since 2013. ‘Iolani’s best defensive effort came in its first game, bursting out of the gate with a 63-0 drubbing of Kalani. Isaac Ignacio highlighted the effort with a 26-yard interception return and joined Brock Hedani, Kyler Mento, Devin Griffin and Lima Harbottle with sacks against the overwhelmed Falcons. Iolani held Kalani to just 104 yards in the air and 62 yards on the ground. The defensive effort that might be remembered the longest might have come in a loss, though, when the Raiders gave up a ton of yards to Clackamas of Oregon but allowed the defending Oregon 6A champs to score only once in a 7-0 loss.
>> Wendell Look is 196-132-3 in 28 seasons.
>> QB Jonah Chong finished third in Division I in passing yards.
>> RB Kaua Nishigaya finished second in Division I in rushing yards.
>> WR Carter Kamana led Division I in receiving yards.
KEY UNDERCLASSMEN IN 2018
>> LB Brock Hedani (5-8, 162), QB Jonah Chong (5-10, 150), WR Carter Kamana (6-1, 172), LB Lanakila Pei (5-9, 171), DB Isaac Ignacio (5-6, 137), DB Micah Camat (6-0, 172), DL Lima Harbottle (5-8, 211).
FINAL TEAM STATS