Kapolei finds itself among the elite

Four Kapolei defenders converged on fourth down to sack Punahou QB Stephen Barber and seal a 33-21 win in the first round of the Open Division. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Four Kapolei defenders converged on fourth down to sack Punahou QB Stephen Barber and seal a 33-21 win in the first round of the Open Division. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Welcome to the upper echelon, Hurricanes.

It’s taken 15 seasons for Darren Hernandez and his Kapolei football program to join the elite teams at the top of the OIA food chain, but the Hurricanes have done that, notching their 10th victory this season and a berth in the semifinals of the Open Divison in the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA State Football Championships with a 33-21 win over Punahou on Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.

Not only did Kapolei win its first state tournament game as a Division I team, but it won for just the second time in 10 tries against the ILH.


Kapolei has come a long way since its last game against an ILH opponent — a 20-0 shutout loss to Pac-Five in 2011.

Imagine that. A Kapolei team getting shut out against Pac-Five.

Punahou couldn’t slow down a Kapolei offense that scored touchdowns on its first three drives of the second half. The Hurricanes shut out the Buffanblu 13-0 in the fourth quarter and were led by sophomore quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who recorded his 10th 300-yard passing game already with a superb night.

Tagovailoa finished 28-for-37 for 367 yards and five touchdowns without an interception. It gave him 41 touchdown passes this season and moved him to third on the single-season passing list, trailing only record-holder Timmy Chang of Saint Louis and Pac-Five’s PJ Minaya.

“You know the saying when you play together, bigger things happen and that’s what we did today,” said Tagovailoa, who already is 10th on the career passing list as well.

Wyatt Perez came up big with eight receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown, but it was senior receiver Jaymin Sarono who continued to shine as Tagovailoa’s go-to-guy, especially in the red zone. Sarono had nine catches for 87 yards and four touchdowns to give him 21 TD receptions this season. He is officially the first player in Hawaii high school history with 100 receptions in one season.


“It wasn’t just me and (Tagovailoa),” Sarono told the Star-Advetiser’s Jason Kaneshiro. “We had Wyatt Perez opening things up for me and me opening things up for him. Throughout two years we’ve built a great connection and were just trying to move forward.”

Kapolei secured its first 10-win season in the 15-year history of the program and has wins over Campbell, Farrington, Mililani, Waianae and Punahou in the same season.

That resume alone puts you in elite status.

The Hurricanes will now get to take their best shot against defending state champion Kahuku. The Red Raiders are 6-1 all-time against the Hurricanes and have ended Kapolei’s season each of the last two years.

Hernandez is all too familiar with the champions from the North Shore, but will take the best team he’s ever had with him into next Friday night’s semifinal at Aloha Stadium.

“How’s that for a prize?” Hernandez joked. “We’ll enjoy this tonight and go back and look at their film. If you want to be the best you have to go against the best. There’s no avoiding Kahuku. Kahuku is like a mountain, like there’s a big mountain in front of you. They’re unbelievable. … They’re almost like freaks how good they are, it’s amazing.”


To be fair, Hernandez has a few freaks of his own.

Just check the record book.

COMMENTS

  1. Paper Crane November 6, 2016 1:45 am

    Great write Billy, and you right about Kapolei Elite versus the EMPIRE.


  2. Hau’ulaBoy November 6, 2016 2:29 am

    Congrats Kapolei! Huge win for the program. Sorry though, cant cheer for you next week. Good luck. RR4L!


  3. ??? November 6, 2016 5:46 am

    Biggest win in school history. Once again June Jones & Taulia are the best thing that ever happened to Kapolei..


  4. ??? November 6, 2016 6:00 am

    Punahou D-coordinator should get demoted, Taulia loved the four man rush with hardly no blitz packages against a JJ offense is CRAZY!!!!


  5. TooMeke November 6, 2016 6:56 am

    Congrats to Kapolei. Great win for them and for OIA.

    Where’s @ILH?? ;( lol.

    After next week the two QB brothers will something else in common. Getting lickings from Big Red’s D.

    RRFL!


  6. 731grown November 6, 2016 7:20 am

    ILH is overrated…punahou was even coming off of a bye week and still couldnt. High scoring game though as usual when theres no real defense. Next week will have some real defense .RRFL lets do this


  7. 808 RR4L November 6, 2016 8:33 am

    LOL DAS WHAT I BEEN SAYING FOR HOW LONG ALREADY?? BRAH, I WAS SAYING THAT IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW LONG ILH HAS BEEN GOOD, IF EVEN ONE ILH TEAM LOSE THIS YEAR TO ONE OIA TEAM, THEN ILH IS SUPER LOSER OVERRATED!!! AHAHAHAHAH HOW YOU LIKE THAT, PUNAHOU?? YOU THINK YOU GUYS SO BAD WITH YOUR SCHOOLBALL AND EDUCATION!

    AHAHAHAHA NEVER COUNT ON THE FIELD! LOLOL AND BECAUSE YOU GUYS LOST ONCE TO OIA TEAM THIS YEAR, ALL YOU GUYS IS OVERRATED!

    EH, KAPOLEI, NO GET ALL BIG HEAD JUST CUZ YOU WENT BEAT ONE JUNK OVERRATED PUNAHOU TEAM! YOU STEP UP TO BIG RED AND WE GOING WORK YOU JUST LIKE JUNE JONES WENT WORK LILY IN THE PARKING LOT! GOING BE LIKE THE SUGAR BOWL ALL OVER AGAIN. YOU READY JUNE? YOU NOT READY. GO BACK TEXAS ALREADY.

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    RR4L! HATE US CUZ YOU AINT US BRUH! ENEIINES OF THE STATE!


  8. Manley November 6, 2016 8:53 am

    808RRFL, lol, you da guy education first yeah. Do the kind reverse physco logical comment in caps to get ppl to haTE the kind RR. Who da he’ll says “hate us cause you ain’t us bruh”?? Bruh??? Really? Lol.


  9. Simple Simon November 6, 2016 9:27 am

    RR fans need to be humble like their players. It’s you fans who give the program a bad name!!!


  10. AUWE November 6, 2016 10:02 am

    @Simple Simon

    Amen to that! Be humble Red Raider Nation!! Didn’t see punahou play this year but I suspected their O line was the reason they lost to St. Louis twice, but wasn’t sure if canes D line could put pressure on puns QBs? They did a heck of a job last night. Definitely answered my question! Next question is how good are they at stopping the run? Guess we’ll find out next Friday!


  11. 88 November 6, 2016 10:11 am

    This is a sports forum where fans good or bad have the freedom to post what they want when they want. To tell someone to be something they are not or act a certain way is dumb. What’s even more dumb is to judge an entire community by the comments posted on this site. You want humility go to church.


  12. Ohhreally November 6, 2016 10:35 am

    Simple simon- obviously this clown 808rrfl is not from kahuku and does not represent our community. He’s just a troll trying stir things up so people like you respond… Don’t bother, Kapolei did us all proud by representing the entire OIA


  13. Simple Simon November 6, 2016 10:37 am

    @Ohhreally – You’re right I think he’s 88 too lol


  14. 85 November 6, 2016 10:56 am

    Simple Simon November 6, 2016 at 10:37 am
    @Ohhreally – You’re right I think he’s 88 too lol

    @ Simple Simon, you are a prophet my brotha!

    Kahuku will win the title. It won’t be that close. Every other team has too many weaknesses. No Hawaii team has the personnel to exploit Kahuku’s one weakness.


  15. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate November 6, 2016 10:59 am

    808RR4L is that skinny little boy at sandy beach that plays his ukulele under the tree and rides those annoying mopeds. he not from kahuku he just got lickins from samoans so he on here making trouble.

    goodluck kapolei n kahuku next week, the key is in preperation.

    kahuku is truly enemy of the state especially when chris chun and the rest of the hhsaa say kapolei will beat kahuku.

    lets get it on, from a TRUE RR4L!


  16. Roll Waves November 6, 2016 11:06 am

    What great football last night! Last week we were treated to some outstanding volleyball. Now we are treated to great football. Congratulations to all the kids and coaches for representing your schools and communities so well. Even in defeat, people should hold their heads high. Great job to Punahou and Farrington. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. You both came to compete and fell short. We all have fell short in our lives. You just got to work hard and make adjustments for the futures. To the seniors, the best of luck in the future.


  17. Roll Waves November 6, 2016 11:08 am

    Hi everyone, did anyone see the Leilehua vs. Hilo game? I have relatives saying Hilo got robbed. I think it’s unfortunate that people blame refs. Everyone is human and they are trying to go a great job for the kids. If anyone has any feedback on the Hilo-Leilehua game it would be greatly appreciated. Aloha!


  18. TooMeke November 6, 2016 12:27 pm

    @simon

    I humbly disagree. Hahahahaaaaa!!

    There’s no flag for taunted my in these forums. All’s fair in love and hate. I love being a RRFL! While da ILH hates us.

    AINOKEA!

    HEA.WI.KO!!!!


  19. Adeeperlook November 6, 2016 12:28 pm

    You gotta give credit to Kapolei as a team but the front four was the defining difference…great game


  20. anywaaaays!! November 6, 2016 1:24 pm

    TooMeke take a rest from the computer cause you killing me. Be humble you duufuus!


  21. TooMeke November 6, 2016 1:45 pm

    @anywaysss. Hi Pot. Go smooch your buddy Kettle (EF).

    I just scrolled past all your novels so don’t talk about camping.

    HA!!!

    RRFL!


  22. The Rim November 6, 2016 4:14 pm

    @Roll Waves – I believe what they’re referring to is four or five judgement calls against Hilo on the Leilehua drive that gave them the lead, and a waived off obvious penalty on 3rd down that would have gave Hilo 1st down inside the 10 with 2 min left. All that aside, it came down to adjustments in the second half that Leilehua made and Hilo didn’t. No doubt about it, in my opinion Hilo was the better team, but Leilehua was better prepared and well coached. The bigger story was Hilo #22 RB Huddleston who had minimum carries for 216 yards. He’s a junior and someone to watch next year.


  23. AiNoKea November 7, 2016 11:40 am

    Offense wins games but Defense wins Championships. Whoever get the better Defense will win the Championship. No doubt Big Red has the Defense but Kapolei is no slouch either. May the best prepared team WIN!!!


  24. Jason Keuma November 8, 2016 9:32 am

    AiNoKea- Agreed. Kapolei’s defense I believe is second in the OIA, in points allowed at 16.


  25. Simple November 11, 2016 10:21 pm

    Over the years I have had a lot of respect for the Kahuku Red Raider football team and fans, even cheering them on against Bishop Gorman . The display shown at the Kapolei vs Kahuku game was a shock to me to see how classless and taunting the fans were. It’s one thing to come to play after all it is Football, but this has got to be the most classless display ever. Singing na na na na good bye while 8 minutes remained in the game. Both teams came to play, congratulations Kahuku as you move on to face St Louis. Maybe show more class at that game after all you’re representing the OIA.


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