The No. 1-ranked Kahuku Red Raiders had been practicing it for months waiting for the right time.
It came in the fourth quarter of the OIA championship game in the Open Division with the scored tied 14-14.
Facing a fourth-and-6 at the Mililani 26, the call of ‘Summer special’ was sent in.
Named after junior Liona Lefau‘s mother, Summer, Lefau wasn’t about to let the play call go to waste. Quarterback Waika Crawford took a deep drop and rolled to his right before throwing across the field to Lefau, who leaked out from his spot on the line and caught the ball near the Mililani 10, where he was hit for the first time.
One defender bounced off, a second couldn’t come up with the tackle, and a third was trying to make a play when Lefau fell over the goal line for a 26-yard touchdown that proved to be the difference in Kahuku’s 21-14 victory on Friday night at Hugh Yoshida Stadium.
The play gave the Red Raiders the lead for the first time all game. It proved to be the difference in Kahuku winning the OIA championship for the fifth time in six years and for the 28th time in school history.
“I knew I needed to get in there for my team and it was a tied game,” Lifau said. “I knew I could make it in there.”
“We’ve been practicing that play for weeks,” added Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho. “We actually dedicated that play to (Liona’s mom) and we were just waiting for the right time … and it was executed very well.”
Crazy effort by Liona Lefau on a 4th-and-6 pass from Waika Crawford to put Kahuku up 21-14 on Mililani in the OIA Open title game with 7:35 to play. pic.twitter.com/jGTT4k2rY7
— Brian McInnis (@Brian_McInnis) December 11, 2021
The game was over when junior linebacker Leonard Ah You forced a Mililani fumble with 1:11 to go after the Trojans had converted a fourth down. Mililani’s Kapono Ho‘okano-Sallas caught a pass and made two defenders miss to pick up the first down. As he ran for more yards, Ah You came from behind and swiped down on the ball, forcing it loose.
Brock Fonoimoana made the recovery to allow the Kahuku offense to finish off the game in victory formation.
“All we had to do was focus on getting off the field and the game was over,” Ah You said. “Big time players make big plays so I tried to go out there and make a play for my team and my community because this championship means so much to them.”
Kahuku (8-0) entered the game having won all seven of its game by at least 26 points.
Mililani got the start to the game it needed if it wanted to upset the team it lost to by 35 points during the regular season.
The Trojans intercepted two passes in a span of 30 seconds and led 14-0, but couldn’t score over the final 43 minutes of the game.
“I will probably be tossing and turning a long time knowing we was up 14-0,” Mililani coach Rod York said. “You can’t ask for anything more than that.”
York’s 100th win in his 11th season at Mililani would have been one of the sweetest, but instead, he’ll have to go for it against ILH champion Saint Louis in the semifinals of the Open Division state championships next Saturday at Farrington.
Kahuku will play Saturday’s Campbell/Waianae winner in the other semifinal.
“I’m just so proud of our boys how they’ve persevered throughout this whole season and even last year with no season,” Carvalho said. “For them to be down 14-0, they never stopped believing. They never got down on any one person, any one sides of the ball, everybody stayed positive together and I think that was the biggest thing.”
Crawford bounced back from throwing a pick-six on his first attempt to finish 10-for-16 for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
He played every drive after starter Jason Mariteragi was intercepted on his second pass of Kahuku’s first drive in the game.
“Because of this rain we needed our quarterback to run a little bit more and I didn’t want Jason to get hurt,” Carvalho said. “(Crawford) was able to give us that little bit extra with his legs throughout the game.”
Lefau led the Red Raiders with eight tackles and had one of two interceptions thrown by Mililani.