Roosevelt is going somewhere it hasn’t been in 10 years — the playoffs — and the Rough Riders tuned up for that appearance with a convincing 47-7 victory over Waialua at Tosh Nakasone Field on Friday night.
“Oh yeah! It’s been 10 years,” Roosevelt coach Kui Kahooilihala said. “We’re excited.”
Kahooilihala was an assistant under coach Les Parrilla in 2007, the last time the Rough Riders entered the postseason. His son, Lowen Kahooilihala, was the quarterback back then.
“We’re trying to be more of a team and trust each other,” said linebacker Tasi Sofakini, who had two interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown. He also blocked a punt that resulted in a safety when the ball went out the back of the end zone.
“More than the individual performance, the team performance means more,” Sofakini said. “It’s been a long time (since Roosevelt has been this far). We just gotta stick with it. It’s all about the team.”
Altogether, Roosevelt intercepted five passes, four of which were taken to the house for touchdowns. Jared Elwin scored twice via interception return and Caine Fitiausi-Fung did it once.
Roosevelt (4-3, 4-3 OIA Division II) had some success with its option offense, too, gaining all 225 total yards from scrimmage on the ground and throwing only three passes — all incompletions.
But, Waialua coach Lincoln Barit thinks Waipahu (8-0, 7-0) — Roosevelt’s opponent in the playoffs next weekend — has the might to stop a one-dimensional offense.
“They’ve got to open it up against Waipahu,” Barit said. “Waipahu is tough on defense, especially against the run.”
Elwin nearly had three interceptions, but just missed a ball in a crowd.
“I was like, ‘Ahhhhhh!’ I hated missing that,” Elwin said. “Oh man, we’ve came a long way, though. We trust our work ethic and as we move on we gotta keep on going and use this as momentum. And we’ve gotta prepare. It’s all about preparation.”
He also had some high praise for Sofakini.
“Tasi leads us on the field and is vocal and is a big captain for us.”