On paper, it was a solid, sweet homecoming win for the Kamehameha Warriors.
For head coach Abu Maafala, it was less than stellar. Kamehameha’s 32-21 win over Farrington featured a dominant first half. Kamehameha improved to 2-3 in ILH Open play (3-3 overall) with a hard-earned win.
The sixth-ranked Warriors outgained No. 9 Farrington 301-14 en route to a 16-0 lead by intermission. The home team also was in control of the score, 32-7, early in the fourth quarter. What Maafala didn’t enjoy was seeing Farrington score on a drive that took less than 50 seconds — after a foiled on-side kickoff attempt.
After the Govs cut the score to 32-15 on a touchdown pass from Chris Afe to Jace Ehia — his first catch of the game — Kamehameha turned the ball over on the next play from scrimmage. Reserve quarterback Tanuvasa Moe fumbled a handoff attempt and it was recovered by Farrington’s Joshua Matagi.
With 4:53 left in the game, Afe scored from the 1 and the visitors were within 32-21. Kamehameha starter Christmas Togiai returned at QB, and though the Warriors went three-and-out, there was no turnover. Farrington got the ball back on a punt with 2:55 remaining and turned the ball back over on downs.
“We’ve still got a lot to work on. It’s a great crowd. I’m glad the kids and the fans were excited,” Maafala said. “We’ve always played one half. We’re a one-half football team right now. We’ve got to get this fixed fast.”
Farrington (2-5, 1-2 OIA Open) was coming off a 13-0 upset win over Kapolei. Kamehameha’s stout defense, led by linebacker Hoku Arias, dominated for three quarters, but the Govs showed their spirit with the fourth-quarter rally.
“People might look only at wins and losses, but Coach (Daniel) Sanchez is building a good program at Farrington,” Maafala said.
The Warriors coach was pleased with at least one aspect: the ground attack. Kamehameha rushed for 307 yards on 32 carries. Alec Serrao carried the ball 16 times for 136 yards, and Reino Bush had 102 yards on 15 attempts.
“We say it all the time. The hardest-working group that we have is our running backs. It starts with our (position) coach Mike Morita. He does a great job of preparing them every week. I’m really glad our offensive line, they’re meshing with them well. They have this great chemistry and every game, we’ve been able to run the ball,” Maafala said.
The visiting Governors, at 1-2 in OIA Open (2-5 overall), are steadily building momentum, even in defeat.
“Our coach said to push and not to give up,” said Afe, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound senior. “The big motivation for us to come here, the fight for Kalihi. We had to finish strong.”
At one point, Afe was launching rocket spirals to Selau Kalani, who finished with four receptions for 42 yards, all in the second half. With Kalani and Raymond Millare (four catches, 84 yards) in sync with their QB, Farrington’s offense had the balance it craves.
Until the fourth quarter, Kamehameha’s standout defensive back, Tiger Peterson, had Kalani covered.
“By the second half, their corner wasn’t really covering him,” Afe said.