‘Iolani makes statement just getting to final

'Iolani receiver Brent Nagami made a tough catch over Mililani defensive back Asher Pilanca. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
‘Iolani receiver Brent Nagami made a tough catch over Mililani defensive back Asher Pilanca. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

‘Iolani’s journey toward a state title ended with a 31-20 loss to Mililani in the HHSAA Division I championship game.

And what a journey it was.

The Raiders’ (5-8) roller coaster season started with a perfect nonconference record after wins over Radford, Waimea and La Jolla Country Day (Calif.).


The Raiders followed with seven losses in as many weeks to Saint Louis, Kamehameha and Punahou in ILH Division I play.

“You’ve got to give this senior class credit,” ‘Iolani coach Wendell Look said. “They went winless in the ILH for two years. You ask any 15-, 16-, 17-, 18-year-old to do that and the enthusiasm that they had knowing they were going to play Saint Louis, Punahou and Kamehameha, I think it speaks loudly about these guys and their character and what they’re made of.

“For them to get to this spot and have this opportunity, I think they’ll enjoy and remember this experience. Obviously, we’d want to win, but when you lose you learn just as much and more.”

The postseason was a different story for ‘Iolani. Changes in the state tournament enabled the Raiders to clinch a berth in the Division I state tournament before the regular season even began.

They seized that opportunity and beat Moanalua 17-14 in the first round. In the semifinals, the Raiders got their signature victory in a 35-12 statement win over Campbell.

“We had a great finish to the end of the season. We had a young team and we progressed really well toward the end of the season,” running back KJ Pascua said. “Just making it to the championship, nobody thought we’d be here. It would have been a little nicer to cap it off.”


Pascua was the workhorse for the Raiders offense all year, rushing for 958 yards and 16 touchdowns on 248 carries— an average of approximately 19 carries a game. Against the Trojans, he showed his vertical ability with six receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

It’s safe to say that he left it all on the field.

With a promising wrestling career ahead of him, the senior hopes to earn a scholarship and move on from football. He was state wrestling champion at 145 pounds in 2015 and plans to wrestle at 152 this year.

“I’m not sure yet. This might be my last football game,” he said. “If I don’t get any wrestling scholarships, I might come to UH and try to walk on. But if something comes my way for wrestling, then I’m gonna take it.”

Another highlight of the ‘Iolani offense was quarterback Tai-John Mizutani, who passed for 2,522 yards in 12 games.

“The reason why we’re so emotional right now is because who would’ve thought? I mean, we went 0-7 for two years straight and just to even be in this position is unbelievable,” Mizutani said after the game. “It sucks that it’s over but I’m so proud of my seniors, so proud of the guys that fought and so happy for the team.”


While the loss marks the end of the season for Mizutani, a junior, he hopes the team will benefit from the experience and be in a similar, but higher, position next year.

“We have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of core guys coming back, a lot of speed coming back,” Mizutani said. “We’re excited about next year but it’s a process. We have a long offseason and it’s gonna be a long time until the next game.”

COMMENTS

  1. TooMeke November 19, 2016 8:17 am

    This just in…

    “HPW makes statement that they are obviously biased towards ILH”

    Good night.


  2. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate November 19, 2016 8:42 am

    the only statement i hear coming from iolani is crying and whining about not being able to climb the big mountain so they gotta find smaller mountains to climb. the oia dont cry about competitiveness we just take it on the chin like real men


  3. Jason Keuma November 19, 2016 8:58 am

    “The postseason was a different story for ‘Iolani. Changes in the state tournament enabled the Raiders to clinch a berth in the Division I state tournament before the regular season even began.”

    Wait. Changes happened after the season started. So is this writer saying that the changes were known before before the season started? And only announced to everyone else three weeks into the season?

    At least have the appearance of being fair.


  4. D10 November 19, 2016 10:26 am

    Don’t think Iolani is crying. What about the OIA, why don’t they want to join the ILH and make one fantastic three division football league on Oahu. Mililani was too good of a team playing for a D1 state title. They’re definitely an Open division program. Coach York does a fantastic job with that program. That’s why the ILH did not let Kamehameha play in the D1 division because they belong in the Open. The ILH has 3 Open teams for next year, Punahou, St Louis and Kamehameha. 3 D1 teams, Iolani, Damien, and St Francis. One D2 team, Pac-5. Hopefully, next year we’ll have just one very competitive 3 division high school football league on Oahu. This is the time to do it!


  5. 3-Prong November 19, 2016 10:58 am

    Do the readers know that Iolani graduates a class of only about 250? With half of them girls. I’m guessing Mililani graduates 600+ (3x) the size. Maybe 1000 boys to field a team with vs Iolani’s 300 or so. Just saying.


  6. "UNITY=STRENGHT" November 19, 2016 11:09 am

    It was because of the open that the neighbor islands had a shot congrads to the Lunas they where put in this bracket and they won right on should stick to this format but Kamehameha should have also been in the D1 finals would have been more interesting 1 & 2 ILH in the open 4 & 5 ILH in the D1 and 5 & 6 D2!!!


  7. RidgeRunnerE-5 November 19, 2016 1:25 pm

    ‘Iolani was placed at the very opposite end of the bracket from Mililani, guaranteeing the Raiders that they wouldn’t have to meet up with the Trojans in the quarterfinals or semifinals. I’ll give them credit for beating Campbell, but they had the easier road to the title game.


  8. TheHeartlessPrick November 23, 2016 12:21 am

    RidgeRunnerE-5 November 19, 2016 at 1:25 pm
    ‘Iolani was placed at the very opposite end of the bracket from Mililani, guaranteeing the Raiders that they wouldn’t have to meet up with the Trojans in the quarterfinals or semifinals. I’ll give them credit for beating Campbell, but they had the easier road to the title game.

    _____________________
    Iolani(3-7) beat Moanalua & Campbell in there state bracket which led them to the Championship game. What more do you expect from a WINLESS ILH TEAM? This is shameful for all these D1 Division State contenders. A team that’s goes winless in their league making it to the championship game? Shame


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