During the most crucial part of the regular season, Seth Tina-Soberano saw his dream of Kalani reaching the OIA Division II playoffs took a hit.
During Kalani’s trip to the mainland, the senior quarterback suffered an injury in their game and sat out the next contest. Kalani lost that game, and the Falcons’ playoff chances in a tough D-II race diminished. He probably could’ve sat the remainder of the season, but returned for the latter part of the season.
The elusive, scrambling playmaker got one more game on Saturday, throwing for a touchdown pass and collecting 72 yards from scrimmage to boost Team Liberty over Team Freedom 26-23 in the JPS Classic Select game at John Kauinana Stadium.
The Select game featured mainly players from D-II programs, but the quality was top level and relatively penalty free despite just one week of practices for both teams.
“I just came to play. The offense Coach Robin (Kami) put in was kind of the same as ours as Kalani,” Tina-Soberano said. “It feels good to finish like this.”
Running back Kobe Jackson provided a lift, rushing for 56 yards. The Pearl City senior was comfortable in the offense, which was installed by Liberty head coach Robin Kami, also of Pearl City. The tricky part was this: Jackson moved to defensive end this season, where his 6-foot, 210-pound frame provided speed off the edge for the Chargers’ powerful defense.
On Saturday, he scored on a 14-yard TD run and had the run of the game, a 30-yard gain that included a trail of would-be tacklers who were run over by Jackson. Like many of the D-II players in the Select game, he’s not sure exactly where he will play next year.
“It was kind of, come in and do what you have to do, have fun. Coming off the season, playing D-line, I had maybe five or six carries,” Jackson said. “Coach Robin told us in group text that I’d play running back.”
A crucial play was a 4-yard fumble return to the end zone by defensive lineman Isaac Sagapolutele of Damien.
“The ball was rolling and I went for it. I couldn’t have done it without my D-line,” he said. “It’s the first time I ever scored a touchdown. I was jumping in the air, I was so excited.”
Roy Matthew Dacuycuy was named the impact player of the game for Freedom after rushing for 110 yards and two TDs on 14 carries. The bruising back from St. Francis had 63 yards after intermission to help rally his team from a 16-point deficit.
Freedom, with Braden Amorozo (Waipahu) and Shastyn Kekahuna) at quarterback, drove to the Liberty 26-yard line before losing the ball on a fumble. Jeremiah Ta‘amu recovered the ball for Liberty with 1:36 left and his offense ran out the rest of the clock.
Amorozo, comfortable in coach Bryson Carvalho’s offense, passed for 102 yards and one TD. Carvalho was his coach at Waipahu.
At John Kauinana Stadium
Liberty 0 17 6 3 — 26
Freedom 0 7 8 8 — 23
L—Isaiah Asinsin 14 pass from Seth Tina-Soberano (Zameer Khan kick)
F—Isaac Yamashita 20 pass from Braden Amorozo (Amorozo kick)
L—Isaac Sagapolutele 4 fumble return (Khan kick)
L—FG Khan 43
L—Kobe Jackson 14 run (Khan kick)
F—Roy Matthew Dacuycuy 6 run (Chad Mann Jr. pass from Amorozo)
L—FG Khan 38
F—Dacuycuy 5 run (Alika Ahsing pass from Amorozo)
RUSHING—Liberty: Kaleo Apao 4-(-6), Seth Tina-Soberano 5-29, Justin Yasutake 6-55, Kobe Jackson 7-56, Isaiah Asinsin 1-11. Freedom: Roy Matthew Dacuycuy 14-110, Tyson Shimabukuro 5-29, Salvido 2-2, Emilio Lorenzo 4-(-3), Amorozo 2-6, Ezekiel-Kai Kapanui-Reyes 1-10, Shastyn Kekahuna 1-5.
PASSING—Liberty: Tina-Soberano 5-12-0-43, Apao 2-4-0-0. Freedom: Braden Amorozo 8-11-0-103, Kekahuna 3-10-0-9.
RECEIVING—Liberty: Asinsin 2-15, Damian Veerman 2-13, Akila Arecchi 3-15. Freedom: Ahsing 3-17, Mann 3-37, Isaac Yamashita 1-20, Kapanui-Reyes 3-26, Salvido 1-11