Pac-Five’s season is over — for the second time.
The Wolfpack thought the end came a few weeks ago and so they put the pads away. Thanks to rival St. Francis using an ineligible player and getting disqualified, the team had new life. It was back to the practice field to get ready for a first appearance at the state tournament.
They put on a good show Saturday night, trailing by only a touchdown late in the fourth quarter before OIA champion Roosevelt closed them out with a last-minute TD for a 20-7 win in the Division II quarterfinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships at Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium.
The trouble for Pac-Five was an inability to sustain deep penetrations into Roosevelt territory. Aside from their only touchdown — Rocket Uechi‘s 16-yard pass to Angelo Coluccio that was made possible by Noah Johnson‘s interception — Pac-Five had drives stopped at the Rough Riders’ 29, 25, 41, 38 and 35.
The Wolfpack (4-5) just didn’t have the answer to push farther.
The biggest blow to the tournament’s ILH representative came with 3:35 left. That’s when Roosevelt’s Josh Maikui intercepted a Uechi pass. What actually happened was Maikui stole the ball out of the hands of receiver Carson Miyachi.
Without that play, perhaps Pac-Five goes in to tie. But the Rough Riders put together a time-consuming drive that was capped by Keneke Gusman‘s 7-yard TD run to clinch the win. Only 48 seconds remained, and it was time for the Wolfpack to turn their pads in. Again.
“It was a good experience,” Pac-Five coach Kip Botelho said. “We had some execution problems in the beginning, but we kept fighting and came back and made it a game.
“We learned from this. These guys have never been here before. We’ve got a lot of youth on this team and it showed tonight in spots. But we’re getting better and we’re growing. Congratulations to Roosevelt. They played a great game. They’re tough and have good athletes all over the place.”
Evan Ramirez, who played both ways and led the Wolfpack in rushing (31 yards) and tackles (13), said, “We had a lot of opportunities. We messed up a lot. It would have been a lot better if we could have finished (drives). And penalties killed us.
“These teammates, this brotherhood is so strong. A lot of returning starters stepped up and became two-way players. They tried their hardest. I’m proud of them.”
Leif Fautanu Jr. (10 tackles) and Uechi also had some words to say about the memorable Wolfpack season and ending.
“Being here, it’s a once in a lifetime moment,” Fautanu said. “Not every high school player goes to states. It’s a really good rush to experience it. We’re going to remember this. We started off real slow. We had a (halftime) motivation talk together with the team. We got better as the game went on.”
Uechi, a converted linebacker, said, “It’s a blessing to be here. We were close. Overall, I’m disappointed when you consider how close we were. But that’s how the ballgame goes.”