Raiders dumped Sabers with finesse, ruggedness

‘Iolani's Justin Genovia tried to plow through two Campbell defenders after a catch during the Raiders' 35-12 win in the state Division I semifinals in Mililani on Friday night. Cindy Ellen Russell / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
‘Iolani’s Justin Genovia tried to plow through two Campbell defenders after a catch during the Raiders’ 35-12 win in the state Division I semifinals in Mililani on Friday night. Cindy Ellen Russell / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Campbell is known as a rugged football team, but the Sabers got beat in the sturdiness department by ‘Iolani on Friday night.

As a result, Campbell (7-5) is done for the season, having been vanquished by the Raiders 35-12 in the state Division I semifinals in Mililani.

Sure, the Raiders (5-7) had plenty of their usual finesse, but in the trenches and in the tackling and blocking parts of the game, they stood toe to toe with the bigger opponents from Ewa Beach.

‘Iolani coach Wendell Look said he wanted to stop Campbell’s running game and that’s certainly what the Raiders did. Sabers running back Tasi Faumui was contained for just 54 yards and quarterback Kawika Ulufale got loose for 46 with most of those yards coming late in the game when the outcome was no longer in doubt.

‘Iolani’s overall defense went on a huge roll with four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Four of those takeaways led to scores.

Makana LaBoy had two of team’s interceptions and Kaua Nishigaya and Kyler Mento had one each. Jonah Buchanan and Isaac Anderson had the fumble recoveries, and Cameron Chang added a tackle for loss.

In the passing game, Raiders quarterback Tai-John Mizutani was super effective and his line gave him plenty of time. He finished 23-for-35 with three touchdown throws. In addition, running back KJ Pascua bashed his way for 80 yards on 20 carries and two TDs.

So now for ‘Iolani, it’s on to the D-I state championship game against Mililani (8-3) at Aloha Stadium, where Coach Look will be matched up against his former player, Rod York, the head coach of the Trojans.

Both offenses can move the chains, and Mililani offense is a little more dangerous in the deep game. It might come down to how well the Trojans can interfere with Mizutani and his short-passing game.

All in all, it appears to be a great Division I (middle tier) matchup now that the big dogs like Kahuku and Saint Louis, etc., are playing in the Open division.

It’s worth taking a look at how all four D-I semifinal teams fared this season against teams that eventually made the Open tournament:

>> Mililani (1-2): beat Farrington, lost to Kapolei, lost to Waianae
>> Campbell (1-2): lost to Farrington twice, beat Waianae
>> ‘Iolani (0-4): lost to Saint Louis twice and lost to Punahou twice
>> Leilehua (0-5): lost to Kahuku twice and also lost to Punahou, Farrington and Kapolei

You can see how these teams weren’t quite ready for the top tier but are very much a contender in the middle tier.

Add in Moanalua, which was 0-3 against eventual Open teams with losses to Waianae, Kapolei and Kahuku, and it really becomes clear how the pieces seem to be a great fit for D-I. Last week, Na Menehune lost in the D-I quarters by just three points, 17-14, to ‘Iolani. A regular-season game in which Moanalua beat Campbell 12-6 in double overtime is another example of the competitive balance of these D-I tourney teams.

It’s also interesting to note that the other three losses this season by the Mules (5-8) were all to Mililani, all by similar scores (52-35, 63-42, 51-35) in games that Leilehua obviously didn’t just give up on.

And let’s not forget about the Neighbor Island champions, Hilo and Baldwin. The Vikings lost by just one to Leilehua, 26-25, in the quarters, while the Bears ran into the Trojans’ high-powered offense in a relatively competitive 49-28 loss.


  1. hossana November 12, 2016 2:27 am

    Still can’t believe that Iolani was more physical than the Campbell Sabers who really outweighed Iolani on the front lines, offensively and defensively.
    Campbell was a heavy fav to beat Iolani but Iolani showed what a good technical and well-coached team can do playing against Div. 1 open teams. Iolani really don’t have the manpower to stand up against teams like Kam, St. Louis, or Punahou but I give those players tremendous credit playing and voting to stay in the Div. 1 tier playing against those powerhouses.
    Really have to take my hat off to Iolani and they certainly earned a hearty congrats for their performance. Once again, Iolani will be the underdogs when they play Mililani for the regular Div. 1 tier championship but you never know until you play the game……….

  2. LohuiLani November 12, 2016 6:59 am

    Is this the new D1 consolation tournament going on here?

  3. Chloropicrin November 12, 2016 9:29 am

    Don’t know how to feel about the D1 bracket..good for the kids and families, but this is really for a 7th place finish, cause we all know the champs comes from the Open. They should just match the remainder teams up and make “bowl” games, keep the D1 like how it’s always been and then match the teams up, at the teams descretion. If teams wanna participate or not.

    Imagine Iolani vs mililani (which will happen) or Mililani vs Kamehameha? Campbell vs Kamehameha? Moanaloa vs Kamehameha? Baldwin vs Campbell? The host schools would keep the proceeds or split it with the traveling school. This would be like preseason

  4. Chloropicrin November 12, 2016 9:30 am

    Triple headers at the stadium, no OC16 which kills revenue at the gate.

  5. Coach_B November 12, 2016 10:20 am

    I think the new Open/D1/D2 format worked out well. The kids get more games and a chance to win something that might have been out of reach these last few years with just a handful of schools dominating the old D1.
    Who cares if some might consider it being a consolation tournament or a 7th place game? If it benefits the kids, and if they think the new system works better in terms of opportunities and game time, then its a success in my book.

    Its all about the kids

  6. Bumbuchas November 12, 2016 1:57 pm

    D1 Classfication is a great thing, hope it continues, I don’t see how it would not. Open Division teams are at a much higher different level of talent. But….. Keep it at a state tournament level, keep the ILH and the OIA separate during their regular season. Their champions get to meet up at the end of the season. D1 & D2 Champions have nothing to be ashamed of.

  7. DaKineStuff November 12, 2016 11:00 pm


  8. ??? November 13, 2016 10:41 am

    Mililani will destroy FreeOlani for the D1 championship & a 7th place finish in the State…AUWE

  9. No Fefe November 14, 2016 12:38 pm

    Call Iolani and other schools whatever names you want but those kids don’t deserve the name calling. They’re kids and us as adults should act as such. So what if Iolani get smash by Mililani, Iolani will still play with class and as respectful young men. 98% of Iolani kids will never play college but 100% will definitely attend college.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email