KIF champion Kapaa will take another swing at winning a state title

Kapaa running back Baba Na-O cut through the Kaimuki defense in the first half of Saturday's win over Kaimuki to secure a return trip to the state final. Photo by Dennis Fujimoto/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Kapaa quarterback Kahanu Davis dipped, shimmied, deked, bulled, faked and sprinted his way to 174 yards and three touchdowns on the ground to carry the Warriors to a 35-28 victory over Kaimuki in the Division II semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships on Saturday at Lihue’s Vidinha Stadium.

And now it’s on to the final against Lahainaluna (10-1) on the day after Thanksgiving. That title game is a place the Warriors (8-1) are going for the fourth time in the last five years without a championship trophy to show for it.

To coach Philip Rapozo, that’s OK. You can’t win it without getting there.

“Like always, it’s a great opportunity,” Rapozo said. “We keep getting there. We get the opportunities so that means we get the chance. We’re going to play a great team and we won’t shy away from that.”

Rapozo’s biggest fear came true after his team went up 35-14. Kaimuki (10-3) came back hard.

“We never expected anything less,” the coach said. “I knew they were coming. That’s a really good team. It makes me feel good, knowing that we can play with a really good team and get the W. (At 35-14), I knew it wasn’t over. I kept telling the boys on the sideline, we gotta close the deal. These guys are coming.”

Davis also threw a touchdown pass to Dreyden Iwamoto in the contest, and teammate Baba Na-O rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown.

Kapaa’s Micah Tabura was brought down by Kaimuki’s Niko Eason after pulling in a Kahanu Davis pass in the third quarter. Photo by Dennis Fujimoto/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

“Davis is crazy good every game,” Rapozo said. “He’s been a spark for us all year, a great leader.”

Davis, Iwamoto and Laakea Gonsalves (and possibly others on the Warriors’ roster, according to Rapozo) were all members of Kapaa’s Division II state champion soccer team from last spring.

“The soccer team showed it was possible,” Davis said. “We know how it feels to get over the hump and finally win. We just gotta carry it over to football and do our thing.”

Jeffrey Brown, who made an interception that virtually sealed the game in the late stages, said, “This team is older this year. Lots of seniors. Everybody wants it.”

The Warriors lost to the three-time defending champion Lunas on Aug. 17 in a nonleague game, 21-18.

A year ago, Kapaa also beat Kaimuki at Vidinha Stadium, 20-12, before losing to Lahainaluna 34-32 in the state final. Kapaa also fell in the state title games to Lahainaluna 21-14 in 2016 and to Radford 30-16 in 2015.

In state-tournament games since the inaugural tournament in 1999, KIF teams are 14-5 (3-1 in D-I and 11-4 in D-II) in games played on Kauai.

Kapaa is now 6-5 in D-II state tournament games and 6-0 in games on Kauai. In addition, KIF teams are 15-5 in home games since the state tournament began in 1995.

“The hard work is paying off,” Davis said. “We’re going back to the ‘ship and hopefully we win it all.”


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