It was the kind of rarity that had to be seen to be believed, even against Oregon’s defending 6-A state champion.
Clackamas, with five returning starters on defense, was dominant on that side of the ball. If not for that, things may have turned out differently for the visiting Cavaliers in a 7-0 win over ‘Iolani on Saturday afternoon.
The Raiders didn’t have a single first down in the opening half. In fact, four possessions were three-and-out, and three more ended with interceptions. And yet, there they were, the scrappy Raiders staying within one score of the team that went 14-0 in Oregon last season. Clackamas arrived in the islands ranked No. 2 in Oregon by MaxPreps.
“I’m proud of them. They played their hearts out,” ‘Iolani coach Wendell Look said. “Our defense has played lights out all year. They’ll set the tempo for our team. Everything feeds off their play. Clackamas came up with big plays when they needed to. We’ve just got to go back to work and learn how to put the ball in the end zone when things aren’t going our way.”
It was a classic battle for ‘Iolani (3-1, 2-0 ILH Open), which was significantly undersized against the big Cavaliers. Clackamas outgained the Raiders 347-173 in total yardage. However, the visitors struggled often to pick up first downs in short-yardage situations as Raider linebackers Kyler Mento and Lanakila Pei led the charge. Clackamas finished with 130 hard-earned rushing yards on 36 carries, including a good chunk of 37 yards in the final 3 minutes and 5 seconds.
In one key series, Clackamas had the ball at the ‘Iolani 25 in a fourth-and-4 situation, but Pei rocketed to the ball and stopped Noah Hobbs for a one-yard gain. That gave ‘Iolani the ball early in the fourth quarter, but the offense couldn’t do much against a stellar Cavaliers defense.
“I thought about it,” Clackamas coach Joe Bushman said of the possibility of kicking a field goal. “But last year, we had a lot of confidence in our guys in those situations. Credit to ‘Iolani. They flew around the field.”