No. 5 Campbell thwarts Waianae’s spirited ambush attempt

Campbell's Titus Mokiao-Atimalala (1) pulled in a pass over Waianae’s Nalu Popa (6) for a touchdown in 2019. Photo by Marco Garcia/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Scuffling along through a difficult season, a proud Waianae football team rose up and took aim at knocking off No. 5 Campbell on Saturday night.

Staggered early in the contest in Ewa Beach, the Seariders responded resoundingly and landed some big blows before bowing out 41-31.

Had it not been for Campbell’s finely-tuned offense, an upset could have been there for the taking. Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, the Sabers’ whiz-kid receiver, did some serious damage to Waianae’s chances.

It was the Campbell defense that almost failed the Ewa faithful, and coach Darren Johnson was more than a tad unhappy about giving up 31 points.

“We just gotta play better defensively. Play smarter and the boys have to learn to do their jobs,” Johnson said. “We’ve gotta go back and fix it. They just were not tackling. They were in position, but not finishing.”

The “not tackling” was mostly against the bull of a running back named Kolu Quisquirin-Sabagala. He carried the ball 29 times for 142 yards.

“What a game he (Quisquirin-Sabagala) played,” said Waianae assistant coach Zeke Wakinekona, the acting head coach in place of Mike Fanoga, who was not there due to personal reasons. “The boys did really good. They played their hearts out offensively and defensively.”

But the aforementioned Mokiao-Atimalala is a different animal. He, along with running back Jonan Aina-Chaves and quarterback Blaine Hipa made sure that Campbell never lost the lead.

Mokiao-Atimalala finished with a cool 141 yards receiving with three touchdowns. On two of the scores, he came down with the ball with extra-tight defenders on him. He also put on the jets for a 69-yard TD after taking a screen pass from Hipa.

Aina-Chaves, who started strong, slowed down during the middle quarters and came on strong at the end, rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown. Hipa went 16-for-26 for 266 yards with four TD passes and he rushed for 58 yards and another TD.

Campbell (4-3, 3-2 OIA Open) had big leads of 21-3 and 34-17. The Sabers were fortunate to get into the end zone late in the first half, when Hipa hit Zavier Ceruti with a 15-yard TD pass on fourth down as time ran out. That made it 28-10.

Campbell’s Zavier Ceruti (17) reacted after catching a 15-yard TD pass on fourth down as time ran out in the first half. Photo by Marco Garcia/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Later, when it was 34-24 with Waianae (1-5, 0-4) fighting valiantly to get back in it, that 69-yard Mokiao-Atimalala speedshow for a TD was sort of the straw that broke the camel’s back, making it 41-24.

Still, the Seariders pushed to the final 10-point margin on Sheldon McLeod‘s 53-yard TD bomb to Saege Ayala.

Campbell outgained Waianae in total yards 486 to 345.

Waianae has a crucial game at Farrington (1-5, 1-2) next week. It could mean the difference between a playoff berth and sitting at home for the postseason.

“I think they’re ready and rolling,” Wakinekona said.

Added Quisquirin-Sabagala: “We put points on the board. It felt good to get those yards. I worked for this my whole life and I just want to make my mom and dad proud. I do it for them. The offensive line did a great job. We’ve got Farrington next. We just gotta work and work. We want it.”

The Sabers have Punahou (6-1, 4-1 ILH Open) next week.

“We did some things offensively to push us ahead and made plays that we needed,” Campbell’s Johnson said. “We were trying to keep the defense off the field and we did that. All around, we’ve got to be better. People think they can run on us because they feel we’re soft and give up points. Waianae gave a great effort. They fought hard and put themselves in good positions. They had a good game plan. Punahou is a game that doesn’t count (OIA teams do not count games against ILH teams in their regular-season records), but we want to get better and represent the public schools.”

Waianae’s Jahstin Stevens-Somildam (26) hauled in an interception against Campbell during the first half. Photo by Marco Garcia/Special to the Star-Advertiser.


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