Farrington wasn’t about to get kicked around again, especially at home.
Despite a slow start this season, the unranked Governors showed just how much pride they’ve got by knocking off No. 5 Kapolei in dominant fashion, 28-7, Saturday night at Skippa Diaz Stadium.
The previously super-hot Hurricanes took a double whammy this week, first finding out their 41-7 win over Castle last week had turned into a forfeit loss due to an ineligible player and then getting outplayed all night by Farrington.
So, where did this burst of energy by the Govs come from after early-season losses to Kamehameha (34-15) at home and Campbell (26-20) on the road?
The answer is preparation, according to coach Randall Okimoto and defensive back Chasen Castilliano.
“In the Campbell loss, we gave up almost 400 passing yards,” Okimoto said. “And then to have a performance like we did tonight. Credit the coaches and the kids after the Campbell loss. Fifty guys showed up to practice on Saturday the day after the game and said, ‘I want to get better.’ That was the start of getting the defense back to where we know it can be.”
Yes, the defensive performance was the difference in the game Friday. Not only did Farrington sack Hurricanes quarterback Kanaiala Kalaola six times, but the defensive backs gave the receivers very little room. As a result, Castilliano picked off two passes and teammate Wendell Alob scored on a 60-yard interception return.
At halftime, Kapolei’s high-flying offense had just 45 yards. Farrington only had 53, but that didn’t matter to the ball-control, clock-killing Govs. In the final tally of yards from scrimmage, Farrington outgained Kapolei 156-150 — a defensive battle all the way.
“We took that strategy,” Okimoto said. “We wanted to milk the clock because we got the lead and we were in a position to do that.”
On almost every Farrington snap, there was no hurry. Quarterbacks Stephen Eter and Chris Afe-Alaivanu took their sweet time to call for the ball from center.
And holding the Hurricanes to 150 yards of total offense is not easy to do.
“This (the win) feels awesome, man,” the Govs’ Castilliano said. “We worked our butts off this week and it sure paid off. It was definitely the work we put in. And we had the boys from Connecticut come down and practice with us. They were our Kapolei this week and it helped a lot.”
The boys from Connecticut he was referring to are from Taft High School of Watertown, Conn., a team that originally had a game scheduled against No. 1 Saint Louis before that contest was canceled for unknown reasons.
Special teams was also a factor for the Governors (2-2, 2-1 OIA Red). Thane Tanuvasa broke a scoreless tie by blocking a punt and returning it 32 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Despite the loss, Kapolei’s defense played well, giving up two big plays that went for TDs — an Eter to Malik Lokeni 31-yard pass and a 43-yard, up-the-middle run by Samsen Tanuvasa with just two minutes left in the game.
Defensively, the Hurricanes (2-2, 1-2) have given up just three TDs all year, including those two against Farrington, in their four games. Except for that Tanuvasa rushing touchdown, Kapolei bottled up the Govs’ running game. Junior Tuia made three tackles for loss and Treven Ma’ae had two to go along with a sack. Aaron Faumui, Rocky Savea, Peni Naulu and Dylan Naehu continued to lead a tough front seven and Saige Mactagone-Kuhaulua came up with an interception.
But offensively, the westside boys continue to be one-dimensional. They finished with minus-25 yards rushing. Antoneo Filipo-Brown, a hulking running back who did major second-half damage against Castle last week, was met by Farrington’s Cameron Faletufaga for a crushing 4-yard loss on his only carry Friday night. Feletufaga was waiting for him, knowing the change of pace (running instead of passing) was coming when Filipo-Brown entered the game.
Faletufaga, Blessing Umaga, Sila Foi, Liki Toai, Joshua Matagi and TitanAlii Pesamino all had sacks for Farrington. Tanuvasa was a two-way standout with his coverage in the defensive backfield complementing his ball-carrying skills.
The rivalry between these two teams is becoming pretty intense. The Hurricanes beat Farrington 28-7 in Kapolei in a late-season game last season to clinch the OIA Red. But the Govs came back for a 33-27 win at Aloha Stadium in the OIA semifinals. Interestingly, though, Kapolei, which qualified for states as the OIAs third-place team, advanced further than Farrington in the first Open Division state tournament. The Hurricanes made it as far as the semifinals and the Govs bowed out in the first round.
Farrington plays at No. 8 Kailua (3-0, 2-0) in a crucial OIA Red showdown next Friday. Kapolei hosts Leilehua (1-2, 0-2) on Saturday.