‘Iolani head coach Wendell Look said most of his coaching staff had never been to the valley for a football game.
In just the second meeting ever between the Raiders and Nanakuli, No. 9 ‘Iolani inched one step close to securing a state tournament berth with a 39-0 shutout of the host Golden Hawks on Saturday night.
Senior running back Kaua Nishigaya rushed for three touchdowns and quarterback Jonah Chong threw two touchdown passes, including one to Carter Kamana, who has eight TD catches this season.
‘Iolani’s only other game against the Golden Hawks was a 44-6 road win in August 2005.
“This is a beautiful place,” said Look, who notched career win No. 194. “This is what we’re looking for in this experience. We get to play new teams. Most of my guys have never been here and for them to experience this, this is why we’re doing this.”
It was the game Look wanted. A 32-0 halftime lead put the game out of reach and he was able to rest his starters and get his backups valuable experience.
Sophomore Sam Faumuina and freshman Tate Shimao both got in reps at quarterback.
“All of the guys got to get in,” Look said. “It’s valuable for them to get game experience and you know, maybe not this season, but down the road, next season, we’ve got to be able to get everyone ready while we hopefully make a run at things (this season).”
The Raiders (6-2, 5-1 ILH D-I) remained one game ahead of Damien for the lone state berth up for grabs between the two ILH Division I teams.
An ‘Iolani win over Castle next week combined with a Monarchs loss to Leilehua would clinch a state berth. If the two teams finish tied in the standings, regardless of ‘Iolani’s head-to-head win, a playoff game would be held for the state berth.
The Raiders scored on five of their seven possessions in the first half against the Golden Hawks and recovered a fumble on their only punt.
Nanakuli’s Tuitasi Fenumiai intercepted a pass inside the Golden Hawks’ 10-yard line to thwart the other ‘Iolani drive.
Junior Trevor Kan had an interception for the Raiders to set up Jonah Miyazawa’s 20-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter and Micah Shikada recovered the fumble on the punt to set up Nishigaya’s 18-yard touchdown on the next play.
Nishigaya, who rushed for 226 yards on 41 carries in the win over Damien two weeks ago, finished with 102 yards on 15 carries to reach the century mark for the third time this season.
His 1-yard touchdown run on the first drive of the third quarter gave ‘Iolani a 39-point lead to force a running clock.
Nanakuli drove to the ‘Iolani 20 on its final possession before time ran out. A 15-yard diving catch by Charles Hauhio and a 15-yard run by Lexsen Kunukau aided the Golden Hawks’ best offensive possession of the game.
A’alona Aleka had a team-high 59 rushing yards and Kunukau rushed for 45 yards and finished 7-for-16 passing for 55 yards.
‘Iolani defensive back Micah Camat had a game-high seven tackles.