THIRD IN A SERIES
(On the five Neighbor Island teams in the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships)
There isn’t much complaining to be done by Kapaa coach Philip Rapozo this season.
Normally, the most successful coaches start to moan about one part of the game or another. Not Rapozo in 2019. Things have gone smoothly so far, and the Warriors are hoping that continues for two more games.
If that happens, the whole Garden Island can have a parade and throw a huge celebration. No Kauai team has ever won a state championship.
If you look at the history of the Division II state tournament since 2003, you’ve got Kapaa and Kauai High finishing as runner-ups three times. Never could get farther.
Is this the year?
“There’s been more ups than anything,” said Rapozo, when asked for a general rundown of his Warriors up and downs. “We’ve been fairly healthy. That is always a plus. The defense has been great and the offense has been really good. We’ve been playing well and are a close-knit team. That closeness is really important and we’re really excited about that. We’re focused on what’s a head of us.”
Kapaa finished 6-0 in the KIF and is 7-1 overall. They’ve gotten super close to the state championship koa trophy, losing 21-14 to Lahainaluna in the final three years ago and again to the Lunas, 34-32, in the title game last year. In addition, the Warriors had a 16-14 lead over Radford before falling 30-16 for the banner.
“Kaimuki (the first-round state tourney opponent)) is what we’re looking at,” Rapozo added. “We’re not looking beyond that.”
Two players spearhead the Warriors on offense — quarterback Kahanu Davis and running back Baba Na-O.
“Kahanu (5 feet 11, 175 pounds) is an exceptional athlete, a D-I prospect in my eyes as maybe a receiver or a DB” Rapozo said. “Baba (5-6, 170), that guy is a machine, a steady, hard-working, reliable running back.”
Among the other key players are linebacker Unique Kamelamela, defensive lineman Joshua Baltazar, linebacker Jeffrey Brown and defensive back Kaiola Lingaton.
“Unique is playing lights out,” Rapozo said. “He’s leading our team in tackles. Baltazar plays with a lot of intensity, a hard guy to block, with good size and quickness.”
THe Warriors host Kaimuki in the D-II semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships on Nov. 23 at Vidinha Stadium.
“It’s a blessing that we’re back in the tournament with another opportunity to compete for the state championship,” Rapozo said. “All the hard work is paying off. The kids are focused and hungry and we gotta play four quarters. We know that we’re up against the best in the state and that a team from Kauai has never won it. The boys know that. We have some unfinished business. We know what’s ahead. We’re not looking beyond anything. The big test is at hand. Kaimuki is a well-coached, athletic team.
Kapaa’s regular-season finale, a 51-0 win over Kauai High, was on Oct. 26, so it will be exactly 28 days before they play another game.
“Four weeks is a long time to be off,” Rapozo said. “We’re taking a different approach. We’re trying to be smarter about how we practice — a lot of classroom, a lot of fundamentals, a lot or weight room and a lot of conditioning. I think we ran out of gas last time around.”
The Warriors are 5-5 all-time in the D-II state tournament, including 5-0 at home and 0-5 on Oahu.
The three KIF teams — Kapaa, Kauai High and Waimea — are a combined 15-21 in all state tournament games, including contests in D-I and D-II. That breaks down to 3-6 in D-I and 12-15 in D-II.
At home at states, KIF teams are 14-5 (3-1 in D-I and 11-4 in D-II).
In D-II championship games, however, KIF teams are 0-6.
At states, Kauai High is 7-9 in D-II and 0-2 in D-I, and Waimea is 3-4 in D-I and 0-1 in D-II.
2019 Kapaa Warriors (7-1)
>> Aug. 16: At Lahainaluna 21, Kapaa 18
>> Aug. 30: Kapaa 41, Waimea 0, at Vidinha Stadium
>> Sept. 6: Kapaa 20, Kauai 2, at Vidinha Stadium
>> Sept. 20: Kapaa 24, Waimea 0, at Hanapepe Stadium
>> Sept. 27: Kapaa 21, Kauai 6, at Vidinha Stadium
>> Oct. 12: Kapaa 47, Kamehameha-Hawaii 0, at Vidinha Stadium
>> Oct. 19: Kapaa 31, Waimea 19, at Vidinha Stadium
>> Oct. 26: Kapaa 51, Kauai 0, at Vidinha Stadium
>> Nov. 23: Kaimuki vs. Kapaa, at Vidinha Stadium
All-time Division II state tournament appearances
>> First round: Kapaa 7, Pearl City 0, at Vidinha Stadium
>> Semifinals: At ‘Iolani 17, Kapaa 13
>> First round: Kapaa 30, Pearl City 22, at Vidinha Stadium
>> Semifinals: At ‘Iolani 29, Kapaa 24
>> Semifinals: Kapaa 24, Lahainaluna 0, at Vidinha Stadium
>> Championship game: Radford 30, Kapaa 16, at Aloha Stadium
>> Semifinals: Kapaa 21, Damien 14, at Vidinha Stadium
>> Championship game: Lahainaluna 21, Kapaa 14, at Aloha Stadium
>> Semifinals: Kapaa 20, Kaimuki 12, at Vidinha Stadium
>> Championship game: Lahainaluna 34, Kapaa 32, at Aloha Stadium
Other KIF teams’ all-time D-I and D-II state tournament appearances
>> D-I quarterfinals: Waimea 20, Kailua 18, at Vidinha Stadium
>> D-I semifinals: Saint Louis 56, Waimea 0, at Aloha Stadium
>> D-I quarterfinals: Kahuku 43, Waimea 17, at Aloha Stadium
>> D-I quarterfinals: Waimea 41, Castle 20, at Vidinha Stadium
>> D-I semifinals: Kahuku 21, Waimea 7, at Aloha Stadium
>> D-I quarterfinals: Waimea 24, Kailua 21, at Vidinha Stadium
>> D-I semifinals: Saint Louis 51, Waimea 0, at Aloha Stadium
>> D-I quarterfinals: Kahuku 41, Kauai 3, at Aloha Stadium
>> D-II semifinals: Damien 17, Waimea 13, at Vidinha Stadium
>> D-II first round: Kauai 49, Pac-Three 7, at Vidinha Stadium
>> D-II semifinals: Campbell 29, Kauai 20, at Moanalua High field
>> D-II first round: Kamehameha-Maui 14, Kauai 7, at Hanapepe Stadium
>> D-II semifinals: Kauai 17, Waipahu 6, at Vidinha Stadium
>> D-II championship game: King Kekaulike 33, Kauai 20, at Aloha Stadium
>> D-II first round: Kauai 40, Roosevelt 9, at Vidinha Stadium
>> D-II semifinals: At ‘Iolani 35, Kauai 21
>> D-II first round: Radford 17, Kauai 7, at Vidinha Stadium
>> D-II semfinals: Kauai 28, Hawaii Prep 14, at Vidinha Stadium
>> D-II championship game: ‘Iolani 24, Kauai 17, at Aloha Stadium
>> D-II first round: Kauai 17, Kalaheo 13, at Vidinha Stadium
>> D-II semifinals: At ‘Iolani 14, Kauai 0
>> D-II first round: Radford 22, Kauai 21, at Vidinha Stadium
>> D-II first round: Kauai 13, Pearl City 7, at Vidinha Stadium
>> D-II semifinals: Kauai 28, at ‘Iolani 7
>> D-II championship game: Kaiser 17, Kauai 7, at Aloha Stadium
>> D-I first round: Damien 13, Kauai 10, at Vidinha Stadium