Kapolei enters the OIA Division I playoffs with a four-game winning streak powered in no small part by the Hurricanes defense.
The Hurricanes (5-3, 4-3 OIA Blue) held their final three opponents of the regular season to a touchdown or less while allowing a total of 19 points in wins over Campbell, Farrington and Aiea.
Kapolei held Aiea to two field goals and 135 yards in total offense in a 16-6 win on homecoming night on Friday. The defensive performance kept the Hurricanes within range of Na Alii until the offense put together a five-play, 80-yard scoring drive with less than four minutes left.
Protecting a 9-6 lead, the Hurricanes gave Aiea renewed hopes with fumble with 2:34 left. Na Alii took over at the Kapolei 37, but the Hurricane defense pressured Aiea quarterback Kobe Kato into an intentional grounding penalty then pushed Aiea back nine more yards with Johnny Morrison’s third sack of the night and 10th of the season.
Ezra Savea then put the game out of reach by returning an interception 64 yards for a touchdown.
Senior linebacker Lorenzen Panapa provided Kapolei’s first points by blocking an Aiea punt out of the end zone for a safety on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“The defense was sensational,” Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said. “They kept us in the game. If our offense didn’t score, (the defensive scores) would have been enough to put us over the top.”
Kato completed just three of his first 12 passes but connected on his next 11 attempts. He extended the run to 17-for-19, chipping away with short throws. But Kapolei pushed Na Alii back with six sacks and Aiea’s run game amounted to negative-six yards.
Kapolei was already assured of a home game to open the OIA Division I playoffs as either the third or fourth seed in the OIA Blue. The Hurricanes’ placement — and their opponent next week — will be determined by Saturday’s game between Campbell and Farrington. A Campbell win gives Kapolei third place. Farrington clinches third with a win in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Aloha Stadium.