OIA D-I First Round

The matchup: Kapolei (4-4) vs. Aiea (2-5)
Location/Time: Kapolei, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Head-to-head: Kapolei leads 11-1
Last meeting: Kapolei 16, Aiea 6, Oct. 2, 2015.

Life in OIA football, with a dynastic behemoth at the top (Kahuku) and the corresponding food chain below, provides a merciless terrain. Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez knows it.

Kapolei has Top 5 talent statewide but isn’t ranked at all and it doesn’t matter one iota. Aiea closed the regular season with losses to Moanalua and Waianae, but every team is essentially 0-0 when the playoffs begin.

“If you look at what we did, we got a game forfeited that we won pretty good (Castle),” Hernandez said. “We lost a heart breaker to Leilehua in OT. For one half, we played toe to toe with Mililani. We haven’t put it together for four quarters yet, but the basic foundation for a solid team is definitely there.”

Kapolei also lost at Farrington, a battle that the Governors won with defense and special teams. Like Farrington and several playoff qualifiers, the Hurricanes have healed up, improved game by game and evolved as a whole. That’s what makes the OIA playoff format, where 12 of 14 Division I teams reach the postseason, more like the lottery than a purely merited reward. It is a new beginning.

The ’Canes have relied on a stout defensive line. Aaron Faumui has been an iron man on both sides.

With Dylan Naehu, Treven Maae, Junior Tuia, a healthy Kukea Emmsley — he returned from a sprained MCL last week in a key win over Nanakuli — and Faumui, the ‘Canes have a chance to go far. The defensive unit has become more efficient as the offense improved, and that’s where Hernandez rolled the dice, so to speak.

Quarterback Kaniala Kalaola was replaced by Lonenoa Faoa midway in the season. Faoa, a transfer from Bishop Gorman (Nevada) has a quick release and good arm strength, but learning the system on the fly means he will only gain more confidence. So far, he has been excellent with nine TD passes with just two interceptions in three starts.

“He’s getting better every game. He’s going to be very good. Right now he’s still learning. He’s smart, gets rid of the ball quick. He’s a leader. We have to gel around him,” Hernandez said.

Talent and depth at the skill positions favor the ‘Canes, but Aiea and its ball-control passing game will always have a shot. Ty Matsunami (1,419 yards, 11 TDs, 14 picks) can be masterful at times without leaning too heavily on one receiver. Four Na Alii have at least 22 receptions, but defenses have learned to pack the passing lanes and test Matsunami’s deep ball. He’ll have to be as accurate as possible, and the Aiea defense could help. Kapolei’s heavy tilt toward the passing game — 281 pass attempts, 114 rushes — makes Faoa’s short-passing skills (6.7 yards per pass attempt) a de facto running game.

Kapolei’s leading rusher has 111 yards for the entire season, though oft-injured Josh Kansana is back. The predictability could make things simpler for the Na Alii defense. 

“Our practices have been good this week,” Aiea coach Wendell Say said. “So it comes down to our mental aspects. We’ve got to be sharp and avoid letdowns. If something happens, we’ve got to get back on the horse. One play at a time.”

Aiea’s only win against Kapolei was in the first meeting between the two schools — a 22-15 victory in the 2003 OIA White title game.

The winner plays two-time defending league champion Kahuku next week in the quarterfinals.

Top performances in series
Aiea passing vs. Kapolei: Kali Kuia with 335 yards in 2005
Aiea rushing vs. Kapolei: Raymond Tuala with 117 yards in 2003
Aiea receiving vs. Kapolei: Lofa Liilii with 131 yards in 2005
Kapolei passing vs. Aiea: Brad Padayo with 291 yards in 2005
Kapolei rushing vs. Aiea: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada with 147 yards in 2003
Kapolei receiving vs. Aiea: Naliko Kea with 158 yards in 2014

Kapolei’s offensive statistics

Kaniala Kalaola9110-182-81,33111
Lonenoa Faoa595-162-51,06112
Cody Marques12-4-1160
Nainoa Afong42-3-0120
Kukea Emmsley70-1-000
Dreyden-Steele Kawewehi10251670
Dylan Toilolo9171141
Josh Kansana4231213
Jarad Fonoti7231050
Sonny Semeatu12451
Antoneo Filipo-Brown47420
Ezekiel Waiolama33260
Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala98160
Ikari Stokes32160
Kevin Burkel31110
Kukea Emmsley71100
Isaiah Ahana6161
Landon Shove1150
Vai Kamakele1100
Ransen Pasion4400
Nainoa Afong36-10
Keoki Kaluhiwa51-20
Nick Makinano12-40
Lonenoa Faoa45-150
Kaniala Kalaola940-1031
Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala9466045
Isaiah Ahana6324806
Titus Mokiao-Atimalala8333945
Keanu Barboza9223653
Kaeo Alvarez-Ranan7141130
Keoki Kaluhiwa581001
Ransen Pasion513691
Ikari Stokes37531
Marquis Montgomery34501
Dreyden-Steele Kawewehi1012480
Josh Kansana47370
Vai Kamakele11220
Ben Meyer13200
Kukea Emmsley71150
Quentin Nana1190
Jarad Fonoti7280
Elijah Badoyen2230
Antoneo Filipo-Brown4100

Aiea’s offensive statistics

Ty Matsunami7142-254-141,49511
Christian Rapis56-18-1980
Ferenisi Lualemana21-1-081
Fabian Bautista72-4-0-50
Ty Matsunami761891
Isaiah Ripley526680
Fabian Bautista717260
Ferenisi Lualemana24170
Jonathan Pei1150
Sam Okamoto6210
Romance Maae-Liupaono11-10
Ataangi Moli11-20
Ma'alo Auva'a11-40
Christian Rapis54-180
Fabian Bautista7393384
Zachary Kalahiki-Basque5233115
Allen Keohokapu7163010
Sam Okamoto7262600
Teron Kitashima7322382
Baba Capanang22600
Dylan Soberano12400
Austin Mogote25250
Isaiah Ripley52110
Romance Maae-Liupaono12111
Isaac Santos11-10
Ty Matsunami71-80


  1. Education First October 6, 2017 11:07 am

    Here is some information for the nitwits that didn’t believe me. This just illustrates that more people are aware of the risks of playing football and how important academics is.

    You think it’s a coincidence that Punahou could barely field an intermediate and jv team? You think there’s no correlation between the low turnout at Iolani and the risk of CTE? Kaiser, traditionally a community with middle class and higher citizens have kids who are not interested in football (and this was prior to the new coach coming 1 year ago).

    Here is the full story – http://www.staradvertiser.com/2017/10/06/sports/sports-breaking/footballs-decline-has-some-high-schools-disbanding-teams/

    I will highlight parts of the story below. I know many of our Kahuku Fans cannot read the entire article, so I will help you guys out.

    “The situation at Centennial — where a long history of losing has dampened students’ enthusiasm for football — is unique to this part of central Maryland, but there are plenty of similar examples around the U.S. Participation in high school football is down 3.5 percent over the past five years, according to the annual survey by the National Association of State High School Federations, or NFHS. The decline would be much steeper if not for a handful of states in the South and the West. Throughout the Northeast, the Midwest and the West Coast, in communities urban and rural, wealthy and working-class, fewer kids are playing football.”

    “The risks of football have never been more apparent. This summer, researchers at Boston University said they’d found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of the 202 former football players they studied. The athletes whose brains were donated to the study had played football in the National Football League, college and even high school.”

    “A study published last month in the medical journal Translational Psychiatry showed that kids who played football before age 12 were more than twice as likely to have mood and behavior problems.”

    “Maryland is one of 14 states where participation in football was down 10 percent or more over the past five years, according to NFHS data. In all, 41 states saw a decline between the 2011-12 and 2016-17 school years, and just nine states and the District of Columbia saw increases.”

    “In West Windsor Township, New Jersey, which borders Princeton University and has a median household income of $137,000, one of the two public high schools dropped varsity football this year, and the other might have to do the same next year.

    “Trinity High School in Manchester, New Hampshire, also disbanded its varsity team, with hopes that it could return in a lower division next year.”

    “In Ventura County, California, northeast of Los Angeles, Thousand Oaks High School disbanded its junior-varsity team this season because it needed sophomores and juniors to fill out the varsity roster. In Marin County, north of San Francisco, Novato High School announced that it wouldn’t field a varsity team this year, but the program got a last-minute reprieve when more athletes than expected showed up for practice.”

    “The decline in participation isn’t just limited to wealthy, coastal communities. Among the states where participation is down more than 10 percent are Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. Population in Illinois has also declined over that period, while in Michigan and Wisconsin it has only grown slightly.’

    “While participation in tackle football is down, flag football is becoming more popular. Participation in the NFL Flag program run by USA Football for kids ages 6-17 increased by 66 percent from 2013 to 2016, with 385,000 kids playing last year.”

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