Kapolei’s finesse won out over Waianae’s ruggedness Friday night in the Hurricanes’ 28-20 win over the seventh-ranked Seariders at Raymond Torii Field.
Playing somewhat of a second fiddle, however, were the Seariders’ finesse and the Hurricanes’ ruggedness. Without those secondary factors, it’s possible either team could have slipped up badly.
Let’s start with the smooth work of the Hurricanes’ offense. Noa Bailey went 20-for-29 with four touchdowns at quarterback. De’Zhaun Stribling continued to show why he’s one of the best receivers in the state, catching 13 passes for 132 yards and two TDs.
But Stribling wasn’t the only one. Bula White caught four passes and nearly hit the century mark with 99 yards to go along with his two touchdowns.
And then there was Jayven Reyes, who toughed and deked his way to 91 yards on 14 carries. His running helped the Kapolei run out the clock at the end.
Defensively, Kapolei’s front, led by Macael Afaese, caused problems for Waianae starting quarterback Sheldon McLeod. He wound up throwing three interceptions (the only three turnovers in the game for either team), with the Hurricanes’ Zechariah Kanahele-Mone, Isaac Sheridan and Matt Gutatala doing the picking off part.
In addition, linebacker Jacob Saole-Su’e contributed two sacks and a tackle for loss in the winning cause.
Waianae, which is known for its ruggedness, got just that from running back Kolu Quisquiran-Sabagala, who rushed for 103 yards on 15 carries.
At quarterback, McLeod — despite the three interceptions — shook off the intense pressure and connected with eight different receivers. That type of passing game that he brings gives the Seariders a dimension they lack in most years.
Unfortunately for Waianae and McLeod, the Seariders couldn’t punch it in with time running out in the first half. It would have given them a lead in the back-and-forth half, but instead, it was an omen that momentum was shifting Kapolei’s way.
Trailing 21-20, the Seariders pushed to the Kapolei 5, but a fourth-down desperation heave was intercepted by Kanahele-Mone.
When Stribling’s TD catch of 9 yards from Bailey made it 28-20 with 16 seconds to go in the third quarter, the Hurricanes had a bit of breathing room.
Still, Waianae had a chance. The Seariders got into Kapolei territory once before a Saole-Su’e sack put a damper on the drive. On its final possession, Waianae was foiled on a Gutatala pick.
For the Seariders, however, the 28-20 loss signals a big improvement over last year, when they lost 46-0 to the Hurricanes.
Neither Waianae (1-1, 0-1 OIA Open) or Kapolei (2-0, 1-0) made the OIA Open playoffs a year ago, ending the league campaign with one win each and a three-way tie for last with Farrington. The Govs won the coin toss for the fourth (out of six teams) playoff spot.
“I’m real proud of my team,” first-year Seariders coach Mike Fanoga said. “They did a great job showing up and playing one of the top teams in the league. It was a tough loss, but they fought all the way to the end. One thing I shared with the team this week is that when you’re surrounded by a (top) team, you have to attack. And they did attack. We didn’t finish … didn’t finish strong enough.”
According to Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez, nothing about the victory was easy.
“It was a physical game and I am proud of my guys,” he said. “It wasn’t no easy win. It was a hard-fought battle and we had to battle for every inch. A typical Kapolei-Waianae game. It’s a big win, no doubt. We had to fight for it.”