The buzz surrounding the frantic finish to Damien’s comeback win against Waipahu on Friday was just starting to settle when Eddie Klaneski’s focused to the week ahead rather than the just completed victory.
“I hope we don’t have too many injuries that hurt us the rest of the way, because we have our nemesis in ‘Iolani coming up this week,” Klaneski said, moments after the Monarchs pulled out a 13–10 victory over the host Marauders in Friday’s OIA-ILH Division I matchup at Masa Yonamine Athletic Complex.
No. 10 Damien will go into the Sept. 15 showdown with the Raiders at 3-1 overall and 3-0 in OIA-ILH Division I play after pulling out Friday’s game in the final seconds. ‘Iolani is 3-1 and 2-0 entering today’s game at Leilehua, which has won three straight.
“We have a long week, but ‘Iolani’s well coached they’ve got some really good football players and hopefully we’re going to be healthy enough and play a good game,” Klaneski said.
“That’s probably going to be one of our toughest games because we know each other really well. As soon as we leave here, we’re looking at ‘Iolani.”
It took a late takeaway and a fourth-down score in the final seconds for the Monarchs to leave Waipahu still unblemished in division play.
The Monarchs trailed Waipahu 10-6 with less than 4 minutes left when sophomore Duke Ho’ohuli stripped the ball away after a short completion near midfield. Damien’s third takeaway of the second half and fifth of the game set up the Monarchs at the Waipahu 42.
“He just made a great play,” Klaneski said of Ho’ohuli, who also recovered an errant lateral in the second quarter. “We couldn’t even see it from our sideline. We just saw him grab the ball and start running the other way. He’s such a great athlete, and he makes so many plays. He’s only a sophomore and he’s such a smart football player.”
After the turnover, Damien quarterback Jake Holtz lofted a pass to Lindon Sevilleja for 24 yards and hit Logan Lauti on a crossing route for 16 more to move the Monarchs to the Waipahu 2.
The Marauder defense had frustrated Damien for much of the night — coming up with five sacks, two interceptions and a fumble recovery — and kept River Iaea out of the end zone on first and second down. Holtz was denied on third down and Klaneski wanted the fourth-down play to be the last of the game.
The clock continued to run until it stopped during a discussion among the officials with 11 seconds left. It started again as the Monarchs lineup in a wishbone formation on fourth-and-goal and this time Iaea managed to find enough space to pound his way into the end zone for the go-ahead score.
“That was crazy. That was the experience of my life,” Iaea said. “I told coach I wanted that ball.”
— Jason Kaneshiro (@jasonkaneshiro) September 8, 2018
But how much time was left when he scored was in question following the play. The clock kept running to :00 and after a discussion among the officials, 3 seconds were restored. Waipahu’s last-ditch effort fell incomplete to drop the Marauders to 3-2 overall while remaining 2-0 in the OIA Division I race.
Iaea scored Damien’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run after the Monarchs recovered a fumble at the Waipahu 6 early in the second quarter. He was also called for a personal foul in the third quarter for a blindside block that wiped out Sevilleja’s 77-yard punt return for a touchdown. But he found redemption on his last carry of the night.
“I kind of got into him (after the penalty), but I told him I love you and we make mistakes,” Klaneski said. “But I tried to pick him back up because he was worried I was real mad at him. But it’s just part of the game. He told me he got my back and he said, ‘give me the ball.’ He wanted it, he was asking for it the whole game and he came through for us a couple times.”