(Ran out of space in the print edition this morning. Here’s the full story on Friday’s Moanalua-Waipahu football game, including info on Waipahu wide receiver Dylan Pakau.)
Big Blue went with the big blast, right up the gut.
The game plan worked to near-perfection, and Moanalua is now in the quarterfinals of the OIA Red playoffs. Richard Parham and Kaleo Yanai combined for 140 yards as Moanalua rallied past Waipahu 31-20 on Friday night.
Moanalua (5-4 overall) took the lead for good, 17-14, early in the third quarter on Micah Kaneshiro’s 5-yard slant pass to Jon-Michael Sharsh. With defensive tackle Scott Pagano wreaking havoc in Waipahu’s backfield, the visitors struggled to move the ball in the third quarter.
With 6:33 to play, Kaneshiro found Chad Aragon for a 21-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone, and Na Menehune led 24-14.
A fumble recovery led to a 7-yard touchdown pass from Kai Mercado-Aiona to Isaiah Alama with 1:45 left, bringing the Marauders within 24-20. But Pagano blocked the PAT kick and Tahi Caldwell emerged with the football after a pileup on the ensuing onside kick.
Wide receiver Donald Lambert then lined up as a wildcat quarterback and scored on a 53-yard run to put the game away with 1:25 remaining.
A crowd of about 1,500 watched at Moanalua’s field as the home team overcame 182 yards in penalties. Pagano had four of his team’s five sacks to keep Waipahu quarterbacks Kaimi Paredes and Solomon Matautia under control much of the night.
“We played our normal defense, but you have to stop Paredes,” Moanalua coach Arnold Martinez said.
Kaneshiro spent most of the night handing the ball to Parham and Yanai, who were north-south runners on nearly every play. Na Menehune rushed for 209 yards on 36 attempts, reducing the pressure on their junior slinger, Kaneshiro. He still passed for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 13-for-19 accuracy. He was picked off twice by Waipahu safety Solomon Matautia.
“We love our kids and we’re proud of them. They had to deal with a tough, physical team,” Martinez said. “They’ve got beastly players. Thick, aggressive.”
Waipahu missed the play of two starting offensive linemen, Jedidiah Mageo and Numa Viliamu, due to injury, but as a team the visitors still rushed for 143 yards on 36 carries.
“We ran the ball pretty good, but defensively, their offensive line sealed people off with their blocks. That surprised us,” Waipahu coach Eric Keola said. “We had breakdowns on defense. Their line play dominated our line play.”
Parham, who scored on a 20-yard touchdown early, wasn’t surprised by the workload. Moanalua game-planned up the gut, away from Waipahu’s stout outside linebacker, Wesley Nagaseu.
“From watching film, we knew the middle would be open a lot. Our O-line’s play wasn’t a surprise to us. We had miscues in the Kahuku game, but they cleaned it up,” he said.
Moanalua drove with relative ease on the opening series, scoring on Richard Parham’s 20-yard pitchout around right end.
Even with big-play receiver Dylan Pakau in street clothes, Waipahu found ways to move the ball by ground and air. Paredes was on point with a 26-yard pass to Matapua Tulafale before scoring on a leap over the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown. A missed PAT, however, left Moanalua with a 7-6 lead late in the first quarter.
Ogawa’s 26-yard field goal stretched Moanalua’s lead to 10-6 on the third play of the second quarter, and Bryan Billena’s interception gave Na Menehune the ball at Waipahu’s 44-yard line moments later. However, Moanalua came up empty after driving to the 8-yard line. Kaneshiro’s pass was picked off by Matautia in the end zone.
Waipahu diligently drove for nearly 5 minutes, scoring on Isaiah Alama’s 9-yard blast up the middle. The Marauders surprised Moanalua with an on-side kick, recovering at the 45-yard line of Na Menehune with 1:32 left in the half, but Jayson Gonzalves’ field-goal try was blocked by Chaz Winham and returned for a touchdown by Branen Oliveros with 4 seconds to go.
The big play, however, was nullified by a block-in-the-back penalty.
Waipahu finished the year 2-7, with four losses of five points or less. The Marauders played for the Division II state title last year, losing to ‘Iolani.
Pakau, a senior wide receiver and kick returner, sat out with a hip contusion suffered during a loss to Mililani last week. He finished the season with 33 receptions for 791 yards and nine touchdowns.
“He’s their go-to guy. He stretches the field and they like to go to him on slants,” Martinez said. “We prepared as if he’d play. I think they missed him.”
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser