Roosevelt is on the verge of its first OIA playoff berth since 2007 after Friday’s 30-10 homecoming victory over Kalani, thanks in large part to an unwavering approach toward coach Kui Kahooilihala’s philosophies: run, run and run some more.
The Rough Riders still hadn’t earned a first down when they trailed 10-0 with the ball on their own 20 with 7:02 remaining in the first half. Regardless, they wore the Falcons down with their run game and cut the deficit to 10-8 by the break.
The second half was much of the same offensively. After a suffocating defense held Kalani scoreless, the Rough Riders used every bit of clock they could, each play taking more wind out of the Falcons’ sails. Roosevelt used six different rushers who had 49 touches for 237 yards in total.
“We just asked ourselves how much we wanted it, to be in the playoffs,” said Roosevelt quarterback Shastyn Kekahuna, who was responsible for three touchdowns. “Now we have to beat Waialua (on Oct. 6). We gotta finish.”
No sequence was more symbolic than in the fourth quarter with exactly 10 minutes remaining, when the Rough Riders were pinned on their own 22 with a 22-10 lead. Kekahuna and Co. ran the ball exclusively on the drive, each play for medium gains, until they finally scored with 1:42 left after Kekahuna’s 6-yard rush.
“Our defensive coaches did a hell of a job,” Kahooilihala said. “They prepared real well and our offensive coordinator and coaches on that side, we said what we were gonna do: run the ball and try to control the clock the whole way through.”
Both teams entered Friday night 2-3 in OIA Division II, with the winner gaining an edge in earning the last seed in the four-team OIA playoffs. The Rough Riders came out on top, and now they control their own destiny.
“We just gotta stay and fight and do what we do and what we’ve been practicing,” Kahooilihala said.