Marcus Hee’s role in two takeaways on Friday doubled as a means of giving back.
With Roosevelt trailing Kaimuki in the fourth quarter of Friday’s OIA Division II championship game, the Rough Rider defensive back forced a fumble that teammate Isaac Kaleikau returned for the go-ahead touchdown. Hee later returned an interception 75 yards for a score to seal a 28-18 win and Roosevelt’s first title since claiming three consecutive ILH crowns from 1955 to ’57.
— Jason Kaneshiro (@jasonkaneshiro) October 27, 2018
“I can’t even put it into words, because this community means so much to me,” Hee said. “They’ve been with me since my elementary days, been with me all the way to high school and they always took care of me and saw me as one of their own. So this is the least I could do for my family here at Roosevelt.”
Hee lives in Papakolea but spent his first two years of high school at Saint Louis. He transferred to Roosevelt as a junior and considered returning to Kalaepohaku, but ultimately remained with the Rough Riders and played a pivotal role in the program’s first championship in 48 years of OIA membership.
“He’s just an all-out gamer,” Roosevelt coach Kui Kahooilihala said. “He’s been a gamer the whole season.”
With St. Francis forfeiting its season, Roosevelt’s lone loss in an 11-1 campaign to date remains a 13-10 defeat to Kaimuki on Aug. 17. Other than St. Francis’ 20-14 win on Oct. 12, which is officially off the books, the Rough Riders have held all of their opponents to under 20 points with Kaimuki’s total on Friday now marking a season high.
Not counting the 2-0 St. Francis forfeit, Roosevelt held seven opponents to single-digit scoring with two shutouts.
“The defensive guys, the defensive coaches, they did a good job the whole week,” Kahooilihala said. “It’s taking the same approach every day.”
Kaimuki spent much of the game in a double-tight end alignment with three backs lined up to one side of the line. The power run game led the way for Jonah Stephens to rush for 122 yards on 12 carries, the bulk coming on a 54-yard run in the first quarter, and Naomas Asuega-Fualaau added 112 on 26 attempts.
Aseuga-Fualaau scored all three Kaimuki touchdowns, the last a 32-yard sprint giving the Bulldogs an 18-13 lead with 3:35 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs held the Roosevelt offense to one first down in the second half and appeared poised to grind out the win in the fourth quarter before Hee punched the ball out of Asuega-Fualaau’s grasp.
“We’re a family, we’re a team, we stick together in times like this and somebody has to step up and help the team out,” Hee said.
Kaleikau picked up the loose ball and sprinted 58 yards for the stunning go-ahead score.
“All I saw was the ball on the ground and my teammates behind me blocking for me and I just ran my heart out,” Kaleikau said. “I just finally scored and I thanked God for everything.”
Kaleikau later came up with an interception on an attempted double pass and Hee’s pick-6 ended the drama with 23 seconds left.
“I was thinking go down because I saw some huge guys coming after me,” Hee said. “But I had that thing in the back of my mind just knowing I had to ice the game.”
“I owe it all to our coaches, they push us every single day. I owe it all to them and the 10 boys I played with.”
Roosevelt clinched one of the OIA’s two berths in the Division II state tournament with its semifinal win over Pearl City last week and will make its first state appearance since 2007.
“It’s huge for us, for the program, for the kids and for the community,” said Kahooilihala, who spent close to 30 years as an assistant before taking over three years ago. “I’m happy for the kids. This journey we started in February, just a lot of sacrifice these kids made.”