‘Iolani wins Father Bray game but still struggles to close games

'Iolani sophomore running back Brody Bantolina rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-24 win over Kaimuki in this 2019 interleague matchup. Photo by Dennis Oda/Star-Advertiser.

‘Iolani coach Wendell Look was very happy with the Raiders’ 20-point third quarter that helped put away Kaimuki 34-24 in the Father Bray Classic on Saturday at Kozuki Stadium.

As for the final 12 minutes, well, that’s becoming a concern.

“I didn’t like how we finished the game,” Look said after ‘Iolani fumbled on the Kaimuki 2-yard line in the fourth quarter and failed to score on its final three drives. “These guys need to learn that they can’t finish games like that regardless of who is in there or the score. We expect a certain standard of play.”


>> CLICK HERE FOR A PHOTO GALLERY FROM THE GAME

Look is one win away from his 200th as ‘Iolani head coach, which he can get in two weeks at Kailua. He also wishes he had already gotten there.

The Raiders’ lone loss of the season was a 21-20 defeat to Moanalua two weeks ago on a last-second field goal. ‘Iolani led 20-16 but took a bad safety late in the third quarter and then gave up the game-winning kick after failing to score in the final 16 minutes.

‘Iolani (3-1, 1-1 ILH D-I) has not scored in the fourth quarter in all four games this season.

“After Moanalua we were all bummed but that was just the first game and we still have plenty more games,” sophomore running back Brody Bantolina said. “We need to learn how to finish. After today’s game Coach was still disappointed in us because we still need to learn how to finish. It’s a hill but we’re climbing it.”

Bantolina rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns against the Bulldogs (2-1, 1-0 OIA D-II) as ‘Iolani showed off a balanced attack on offense. The Raiders finished with 30 rushing attempts and 29 passes and 165 yards on the ground and 192 through the air.

“Coach always tell us if we can run the ball we can do anything,” said Bantolina, who was nearly tackled on his 37-yard touchdown run in the first quarter but managed to get a hand down and somehow keep his knee off the ground — or so the referee ruled.

“Honestly, I thought I was down but I didn’t hear the whistle or anything,” Bantolina said. “I got up and kept running.”

Fellow running back Brock Hedani also scored twice, catching a 46-yard screen pass for a TD and running for a 35-yard score in the third quarter.

‘Iolani’s 20-point third quarter proved to be the difference in the game.


“It takes us a while to get used to the size differential and the speed, and once we get used to that and settle down a little bit we can kind of manage things a little bit better,” Look said. “(Kaimuki) has got a lot of weapons. They got athletes. I told my team don’t overlook them because they only have 30 or whatever guys. They are tough kids and well coached.”

The respect was equal from both sides as Kaimuki coach David Tautofi relished the opportunity for his group to take a week off from D-II play to challenge themselves against a Raiders team that made the state tournament last year.

“This was something that we have been looking forward to,” Tautofi said. “I think (‘Iolani) is going to be a contender for sure. Division I is shaking up to be something crazy this year.”

Kaimuki sophomore quarterback Jayden Maiava threw for 248 and two touchdowns, including a 17-yarder to Matt Williams with 1:25 remaining in the first half to cut the deficit to 14-10 going into the break.

‘Iolani senior quarterback Jonah Chong started the second half completing all three of his throws on an 8-play, 66-yard drive capped off by Bantolina’s 3-yard run for a 21-10 lead.

After a Kaimuki three-and-out, junior Sam Faumuina got his first snaps at QB and had a 41-yard TD called back on his first throw. Unfazed by the flag, his screen pass on the next play to Hedani went for 46 yards and a score for a 27-10 advantage.

Hedani then escaped out of a pile near the line of scrimmage on the next drive for a 35-yard TD for a 34-10 lead.

“I think just fatigued kicked in,” Tautofi said. “It challenges the boys and tests the boys mentally and we are able to shake them up a little bit and get them straight again.”

Chong is the returning senior starter at QB but Faumuina has earned himself playing time with his ability to both throw and run.


Chong finished 14-for-21 for 118 yards with a TD and Faumuina was 6-for-8 for 74 yards and a score and also had two nice runs for 32 yards.

“They are being efficient and managing the game and that’s all we need for them to do. Don’t turn over the ball,” Look said. “Jonah is the returning guy and he’s the starter right now and Sam gives us some good production off the bench. He’s getting to be very reliable and I think he’s excited about what he’s doing out there.”

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