Kapaa’s Kapena Texeira is a solider, according to Warriors football coach Philip Rapozo.
So, when the Division II state football semifinal game was on the line Saturday, Texeira found himself with the ball four out of six plays on his team’s final possession.
It was time to save the game, or as soldiers do, save whatever they can in the heat of battle. Rise above the fray, they say.
All the Warriors (8-1) needed was to keep getting first downs and the game was theirs. Leading 21-14 against Damien with about two and a half minutes to go, Texeira got the ball and went off left tackle for 4 yards. Same thing on second down: 4 yards. On third down, he busted loose for a 31-yard pickup, breaking though a gang of about five tacklers on the line.
Should be good, right? Game over. Not so fast. The next two short running plays went to Leighton Moniz. Time running down. Back to Texeira, who was supposed to get a direct snap to his left, but the ball went to the right. It bounced off his hands and on to the ground and further to his right.
The Vidinha Stadium clock was ticking down. Nine, 8, 7, 6.
Luckily, Texeira chased it down and picked up the bounding ball and got gang tackled for a 9-yard loss as the time went down — 3, 2, 1.
Finally, the game was over and Kapaa clinched a trip to the D-II state title game for the second year in a row.
Texeira, it should be noted, is not your ordinary running back. He’s listed as a defensive lineman on the roster and is a sizable 5-feet-11 and 250 pounds.
And while Rapozo was super worried on the sideline when the ball got away from Texeira and then even more super worried a split-second later when Texeira didn’t jump on the ball, he kept the faith.
“There was nobody on our team behind him,” Rapozo said.
Had a Damien player got to the ball first, the war could easily have been extended.
Still, Rapozo had nothing but good things to say about his “soldier.”
“He’s one of the most confident guys I’ve ever been around,” the coach said. “Sometimes you gotta argue with the guy to tell him he cannot do something.”
There were other big parts of the Warriors’ victory on Saturday.
>> Moniz rushed for 41 yards on 19 carries.
>> Swift running back Ryan Banasihan provided a spark with a 23-yard sweep around right end on a touchdown drive that he capped with a 2-yard run.
>> Ikona Fernandez had two tackles for loss and a sack.
>> Akio Billy Tolenna had two fumble recoveries.
>> Offensive linemen Morris Unotoa and his brother, Eli Unutoa, led the way in providing the push that led to the Warriors’ 21-0 halftime lead.
>> Raffy Perono and Dusten Ramseyer-Burdett both had an interception, and Ramseyer-Burdett returned his 79 yards for a touchdown.
>> Mana Carvalho and Mana Kupihea each had a tackle for loss, as did Texeira.
And one more thing about Texeira and the work he did in saving the game: On Damien’s second-to-last possession, he made the hit on the Monarchs’ Justice White at the Kapaa 3-yard line that caused a fumble that Tolenna recovered.
The Kapaa boys play Lahainaluna on Friday at Aloha Stadium. They’re playing for something a Kauai team has never won before — a state football championship. Rapozo is relieved to be past the Monarchs (7-3).
“Two really good teams,” he said about his own squad and Damien. “I thought all six teams were good going into this thing (the D-II portion of states). We’re so thankful for this opportunity to get back to the state championship game.”
Earlier in the season, Rapozo’s attitude was the season would be a bust if the Warriors got that far again and didn’t win. A year ago, they lost to Radford 30-16 in the finale.
He certainly will not be taking Lahainaluna lightly. Kapaa defeated the Lunas 21-0 in August, and here is what Rapozo had to say afterward:
“We beat the Lunas on their own field and that gave us some confidence. We didn’t play well against Maui. We were in the red zone seven times and only scored twice. With Lahaina, you’ve got to run the clock and can’t give them more chances. When we play them, it’s like looking in a mirror. They’re going to be a lot better this year (the Warriors topped the Lunas 24-0 in the state D-II semifinals in 2015) and we’ll be a lot better. I expect to play them again. Not to take anything away from the KIF, but we would love to get back to that state championship game. First, we’ve got take care of the KIF.
“(Lahainaluna’s campus field), it’s a little intimidating.They come out of the locker room so organized. You can tell they’re disciplined when they’re warming up. I was like, ‘Man, these guys look like they’ve got everything together. I hope we’ll be all right tonight.’ They just bring it. We were up 21-0 and they were still bringing it. So, that win was really big for us. I felt really good after that game because we knew we didn’t play a good game against Maui (a 16-6 home win one week earlier). They (our players) stepped up. We are conservative on offense, but eventually we’re looking to be balanced. If you let us run on you, we’ll run all night. We’re not looking for a 48-0 blowout. We’re looking to win the game. We’ll throw in some passing. If you stop the run, we’ll throw.”
Well, he was correct. Kapaa is playing Lahainaluna again for the third time in a year’s span. It should be a good one.