Upsets not hard to find in OIA first round

Terell Johnson had a big game in Campbell's 27-21 upset of Kaiser in the first round of the OIA Division I playoffs in 2015. Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

This year, OIA teams are going to have to earn it.

Last year, in the first edition of the open state championship, each of the four schools that won their opening round games in the OIA playoffs (Moanalua, Farrington, Waianae and Leilehua) eventually made it to the state tournament.

Before last year, the last time a program played in the first round of the OIA tournament and went on to the state tournament was Leilehua in 2007.

With the OIA staying out of the Division I tournament this year, the only state spots available to top-tier teams are three for the Open division.

The OIA tournament didn’t become a 12-team affair until 2011, but there have been a fair share of upsets since the expansion including two six seeds beating No. 3 seeds. Every one of those underdogs went on to lose their next game. The last time a first-round underdog made it to the semifinals was Kapolei in 2007, which beat Kailua as the fifth seed out of the West and then traveled to Kahuku to upset the Red Raiders. Despite the run, the Hurricanes failed to make it to the state tournament.

OIA first-round upsets

>> 2015 Moanalua (Blue 5) def. Leilehua (Red 4), 58-22
Na Menehune’s powerful offense had trouble overcoming its leaky defense early in the season until a 28-20 win over Campbell two weeks before the playoffs. The offense exploded behind quarterback Alakai Yuen and dual threat Michael Feliciano to torch the Mules for 58 points and earn a road trip to Mililani. The Trojans ended Na Menehune’s season with a 48-13 blowout. Moanalua finished the year 4-6.

>> 2015 Campbell (Blue 6) def. Kaiser (Red 3), 27-21
This one was not so difficult to see coming. Amosa Amosa‘s Sabers started the season with five straight losses and went to Kaiser carrying a dreadful 1-7 record. But Campbell played Farrington tough in a 21-14 loss the week before the playoffs began. They loaded up the bus for the ninth time that season, their field was being worked on which left them with no home games, and won a tough game when Kaiser’s Nic Tom suffered a dislocated hip in the second quarter and the Sabers held off a furious Kaiser comeback in the fourth quarter. The Sabers failed to put together their first winning streak of the season when Farrington held Terrell Johnson to just 10 yards on the ground in a 28-0 win at Roosevelt. Quarterback Kawika Ulufale came back the next year to lead the Sabers to the state tournament.

>> 2013 Leilehua (West 5) def. Moanalua (East 4), 54-17
Things looked so good for Tristin Kamaka and the Mules, starting the season 3-0 with wins over Iolani and Campbell before losing three of their next four. And then Leilehua’s offense, which was held to 14 points by rival Mililani in the regular season, caught fire. Justin Jenks took over at quarterback and led the team to 66 points in a win over Waipahu and then switched things up by handing the ball to running back Randy Neverson, who ran for 175 yards against Na Menehune in the first round. Mililani had the antidote for Nolan Tokuda‘s midseason adjustments, though, dropping Leilehua 21-9 in the next round of the playoffs.

>> 2012 Campbell (West 5) def. McKinley (East 4), 35-0
The 2012 Sabers started their season 4-0 before its stifling defense fell apart and their suddenly potent offense, led by veteran quarterback Justin Tago-Sue, couldn’t overcome it. Campbell lost three of its next four to erase its great start and went into the playoffs hurting after a 35-34 loss to rival Kapolei. The close losses forged a stronger team, though, and the Sabers destroyed the Tigers behind a running game led by future all-state quarterback Isaac Hurd‘s 74 yards and a defense that held McKinley to just 102 yards. The dream ended the next week, however, when Mililani trounced Campbell 42-14.

>> 2011 Aiea (West 6) def. Kailua (East 3), 13-12
Na Alii had to grow into a team capable of a big upset, starting the season 1-4 with an offense that couldn’t do much of anything. That changed when quarterback Isaiah Fonoti started looking Jarrel Chaveira‘s way and putting up just enough points to beat Mililani and Radford and lose a close game to Campbell. Fonoti and Chaveira did it again when the playoffs began, edging the East’s N0. 3 team 13-12 in a defensive battle. The difference in the game came when Max Maafala-Maiava led a group of Na Alii to gang tackle Kailua running back Jarrin Young on a two-point conversion in the third quarter. Na Alii’s season ended the week after the upset, falling 13-7 to Campbell in another defensive battle. The Sabers sealed it when Donovan Poniatowski intercepted Isaiah Fonoti‘s pass with just over a second left.


  1. Education First October 6, 2017 11:07 am

    Here is some information for the nitwits that didn’t believe me. This just illustrates that more people are aware of the risks of playing football and how important academics is.

    You think it’s a coincidence that Punahou could barely field an intermediate and jv team? You think there’s no correlation between the low turnout at Iolani and the risk of CTE? Kaiser, traditionally a community with middle class and higher citizens have kids who are not interested in football (and this was prior to the new coach coming 1 year ago).

    Here is the full story –

    I will highlight parts of the story below. I know many of our Kahuku Fans cannot read the entire article, so I will help you guys out.

    “The situation at Centennial — where a long history of losing has dampened students’ enthusiasm for football — is unique to this part of central Maryland, but there are plenty of similar examples around the U.S. Participation in high school football is down 3.5 percent over the past five years, according to the annual survey by the National Association of State High School Federations, or NFHS. The decline would be much steeper if not for a handful of states in the South and the West. Throughout the Northeast, the Midwest and the West Coast, in communities urban and rural, wealthy and working-class, fewer kids are playing football.”

    “The risks of football have never been more apparent. This summer, researchers at Boston University said they’d found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of the 202 former football players they studied. The athletes whose brains were donated to the study had played football in the National Football League, college and even high school.”

    “A study published last month in the medical journal Translational Psychiatry showed that kids who played football before age 12 were more than twice as likely to have mood and behavior problems.”

    “Maryland is one of 14 states where participation in football was down 10 percent or more over the past five years, according to NFHS data. In all, 41 states saw a decline between the 2011-12 and 2016-17 school years, and just nine states and the District of Columbia saw increases.”

    “In West Windsor Township, New Jersey, which borders Princeton University and has a median household income of $137,000, one of the two public high schools dropped varsity football this year, and the other might have to do the same next year.

    “Trinity High School in Manchester, New Hampshire, also disbanded its varsity team, with hopes that it could return in a lower division next year.”

    “In Ventura County, California, northeast of Los Angeles, Thousand Oaks High School disbanded its junior-varsity team this season because it needed sophomores and juniors to fill out the varsity roster. In Marin County, north of San Francisco, Novato High School announced that it wouldn’t field a varsity team this year, but the program got a last-minute reprieve when more athletes than expected showed up for practice.”

    “The decline in participation isn’t just limited to wealthy, coastal communities. Among the states where participation is down more than 10 percent are Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. Population in Illinois has also declined over that period, while in Michigan and Wisconsin it has only grown slightly.’

    “While participation in tackle football is down, flag football is becoming more popular. Participation in the NFL Flag program run by USA Football for kids ages 6-17 increased by 66 percent from 2013 to 2016, with 385,000 kids playing last year.”

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