CLOSING THE BOOK: ‘Iolani Raiders

Iolani's Carter Kamana (21) celebrates with teammate Rayden Kaneshiro (4) after he scored a touchdown against Waipahu during the regular season. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

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


Passing

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.

Rushing

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.

Receiving


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.

Defense

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.

HEAD COACH
>> Wendell Look is 196-132-3 in 28 seasons.

STAT RANKINGS
>> 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

PASSINGGC-A-IYdsTD
Jonah Chong11202-328-112,16221
Sam Faumuina48-16-0902
Tate Shimao68-9-0561
RUSHINGGAttYdsTD
Kaua Nishigaya1120698316
Rexton Suzuki822822
Jake Lee217740
Rayden Kaneshiro114420
Cole Ichikawa71020
Sam Faumuina4110
Tate Shimao62-30
Jonah Chong1139-491
TEAM1110-490
RECEIVINGGRecYdsTD
Carter Kamana11849598
Jonah Miyazawa11515576
Rayden Kaneshiro11354384
Kaua Nishigaya1115982
Wailoa Manuel66882
Cole Ichikawa77671
Rexton Suzuki810410
Noah Gaudi36361
Jake Yokogawa34240
‘Iolani receiver Carter Kamana broke away for a 75-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter against Kailua. Photo by Jordon Fong/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
‘Iolani running back Kaua Nishigaya (1) carried Clackamas linebacker Justice Pagan (25) for yards. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
‘Iolani kicker Mika Makekau (19) booted three field goals against Damien, including a state record 44-yarder by a girl. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
‘Iolani’s Kyler Mento (3) was brought down by Radfords’ Sean Duff (65), Israel Mann (50) and Hunter Copp (18) after his second interception of the game. Photo by Dennis Oda/Star-Advertiser.
‘Iolani defensive back Lanakila Pei (23) celebrated with teammates after he intercepted a pass against Waipahu. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
‘Iolani’s Kaua Nishigaya (1) was congratulated by teammate Micah Anduha (51) after scoring one of his three touchdowns against Nanakuli. Photo by Darryl Oumi/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
‘Iolani’s Trevor Kan (22) was taken down by Nanakuli’s Charles Hauhio (14) after intercepting a pass during the first quarter. Photo by Darryl Oumi/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
‘Iolani running back Kaua Nishigaya rushed for a career-high 226 yards in a win over Damien. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

COMMENTS

  1. iolani football observer November 14, 2018 7:53 am

    as always, Coach Wendell Look, Delbert Tengan, Joel Lane and Staff, do a remarkable job with what they have. Always undersized but full of tenacity, grit, never quit, they compete with the best. In years past, I’ve seen their teams in street clothes and find it hard to believe they are a Varsity Team compared to other teams. Iolani is the standard where other schools need to strive to be.

    Just look at their game vs Waipahu who was much bigger in size and numbers. Unfortunately Iolani didn’t bring their normal “A” game but Waipahu still have to come from behind to win off of Iolani turnovers. Iolani embodies the “Team Concept” that so many other teams try to strive to be. Imagine what their Staff could do with size and athletic abilities of other teams like Kapolei, Farrington, Castle. Kudo’s to Iolani who do it the right way, combining Academics and Athletics together embracing an unselfish TEAM concept.


  2. phILHarmonic November 14, 2018 11:37 am

    There we go again, too small not enough #’s, one TEAM concept, etc……..

    You win, you’re GIANT killers.

    You lose, you’re undersized but full of tenacity, grit, never quit and so on so forth.

    WIN-WIN

    I love this team. I just hate that you cannot lose without saying that you were outsized and outnumbered.

    May be true, understood, but cmon man.


  3. ??? November 14, 2018 12:35 pm

    Punahou should hire coach Look ASAP!!!


  4. Telling it like it is November 14, 2018 1:59 pm

    Super fun to watch these guys play. They fly all around the field on offense and defense. Well coached, that’s for sure.


  5. Falcon Future November 14, 2018 3:49 pm

    FYI they just got their season ended by Waipahu. Yup, Waipahu!!!

    This is the same Waipahu team that Iolani beat by 40 at the beginning of this season. If Iolani is considered well coached, Waipahu must have had the New England Patriots coaches on the sidelines last week!

    94 Block represent!!!


  6. Wainakea November 14, 2018 6:40 pm

    @Falcon Future

    In all seriousness, it was a different Waipahu team that showed up. It was also a different team from the one that throttled Waianae in the preseason. Waipahu kids have come a long way since August.

    ‘Iolani certainly had a great season too. It is a turnaround from that forgettable season which started with giving Hilo it’s first win 62-35 on Oahu since the 70s…


  7. Iolani football observer November 14, 2018 6:52 pm

    Harmonic Man, you miss the point. Iolani didn’t ‘t lose because they too small in size and numbers, they lost becuz they did play their A game. They have no business being on the same field as Waipahu but Marauders barely won. Iolani dont have those 2nd half turnovers, could have been different outcome.


  8. Joan November 14, 2018 9:32 pm

    Proud of the Raiders for being #oneteam and holding your heads up high. You all kept it clean, acted with class, and showed others what the motto means.

    For players that are often underestimated and not in a school that recruits; you all played as a team. But even more, you all kept your academics up because there is more than football.

    A pleasure to watch you this season. You are winners to me.


  9. phILHarmonic November 15, 2018 8:14 am

    IFO-

    Then say that.

    No need the other excuses.

    Even in your response, “They have no business being on the same field as Waipahu”. It still ekes out.


  10. Falcon Future November 15, 2018 8:49 am

    This must also be taken into consideration … look at Iolani’s facilities, equipment, staffing, overall support (academics and athletics). Then compare it to Waipahu. There is a legit argument that Waipahu had no business being in the same game as Iolani … and yet the Marauders pulled it off!

    94 Block!!!


  11. phILHarmonic November 15, 2018 9:04 am

    Falcon

    Maybe if we talking GPA’s, SAT scores and what colleges they will be attending, not football.


  12. Stay in Your Lane November 22, 2018 1:12 pm

    Iolani is always overrated year after year. Always ranked higher than some of the open teams. But when they play these bigger teams and get hit by them big boys they fold and make all kinds of bs excuses!


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