Two of the OIA’s best teams in Division I provided an instant classic in Saturday night’s championship game. No. 8 Moanalua and No. 7 Leilehua both had its opportunities to win in regulation, making it all the more agonizing for whoever would lose.
It was Leilehua which fell 21-20 in double overtime. The Mules also had two prominent chances to win, but potential game-winning field goals by Konapiliahi Raymond were missed at the end of regulation and in the first overtime.
“He hadn’t kicked all these years,” coach Mark Kurisu said of Raymond, who is listed as a running back on the Mules’ roster. “He was doing a good job for us but it’s hard, these moments. You cannot duplicate these types of feelings and these moments.
“For him, he’s going to take it the hardest. We want to be there for him, support him and let him know that it’s going to be all right, as a family does. … You always support each other.”
Na Menehune have been on a thorn on the side of the Mules this season. At 9-2, both of Leilehua’s losses are to Moanalua, and by a combined total of five points.
“The first time we played them (a 24-20 loss on Aug. 30), we made mistakes and it cost us,” Kurisu said. “This game, we made some mistakes but we were able to recover from it so it was a good feeling. You never want to lose a championship, but hats off to Moanalua. They executed.”
The season isn’t over yet for the Mules, who will now await their opponent in the HHSAA Division I state tournament.
Last year’s Leilehua squad fell in the OIA semifinals, ending its season right then and there. Getting a step further than the 2018 team shows steady progress, but it doesn’t take the sting off of the loss. Especially when the Mules were so close.
“Any time you play that many overtimes and we make those type of plays to give ourselves a shot, that’s all you can ask for,” Kurisu said. “Granted, anyone who plays in a championship game, you would want to finish up strong and get the title but, just short one point.”
The Mules will next take the field on Nov. 15 against an opponent to be announced. Kurisu knows how the team can spend that time between games.
“Just give the boys some rest,” Kurisu said. “I didn’t think it was going to be that long, it’s kind of awkward but we’re gonna appreciate the rest, let them take care of school, give them some time for themselves and then come back ready to go.”