Damien’s Marcus Faufata-Pedrina thought his high school football career was over in November, back when the Monarchs fell to Hilo in the Division I state final of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships.
But the senior took full advantage of another opportunity to play on Thursday night, leading Hawaii East to a 19-14 victory over Hawaii West in the nightcap of the JPS Paradise Classic semifinals at Aloha Stadium.
Faufata-Pedrina, who has received some college interest and earned an offer from Virginia Union as a slotback, did the bulk of his damage with his arm by completing his first eight passes. He finished 8-for-10 with 144 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions to go with two rushes for 25 yards.
“First of all, I’d like to say thank you to the JPS organization for this opportunity for us to play another game, all glory to God,” he said. “This week has been a fun week, bonding with different guys that we played against during the season and guys that we watch when we’re not playing. It was just a great amount of fun to get coached by some really good coaches, and really unbelievable to come out with a win.”
Despite his efficiency, Faufata-Pedrina played loose and let it fly, often throwing when hurried and on the run. St. Francis’ Scott McLeod, Saint Louis’ Tosh Kekahuna-Kalawe and Kapolei’s Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala were the recipients of his touchdowns, while Farrington’s Stephen Eter hauled in a 53-yard pass to end the third quarter.
“I just wanted to play my game, have fun, enjoy one of the last games I’ll play in high school football and just hopefully come out with a victory,” Faufata-Pedrina said. “I know the boys were doing great and the line was blocking like crazy. Thanks to all of them for making me look good.”
On the West squad, Waipahu’s Braden Amorozo followed a stellar senior campaign with two passing touchdowns. He found Damien’s Akila Arecchi for a 7-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and his 61-yard strike to Pearl City’s Calvin Mock was the last score of the contest with 3:03 remaining. The West got the ball back with 2:22 to go, but their comeback was thwarted when Saint Louis senior and Hawaii signee Kai Kaneshiro picked Amorozo off.
The win for the East may be viewed as a minor upset because of a stacked West roster that included Thompson High School’s Taulia Tagovailoa, who was listed on the roster but not on the sideline.
In the other semifinal, California topped American Samoa 21-13 behind two receiving touchdowns from Freedom High’s Baylei Colston. This sets up the championship game between Hawaii East and California, as well as the third-place game between Hawaii West and American Samoa. Both games will be played on Saturday at Aloha Stadium.