Three weeks removed from dropping a second straight loss, Waipahu raised an OIA championship plaque for the second consecutive year.
The Marauders broke out to a 5-2 start this season and were 4-0 against OIA Division I competition before stumbling to a 50-20 home loss to Leilehua, followed by a 29-5 drubbing by Moanalua at Aloha Stadium on Oct. 5.
— Jason Kaneshiro (@jasonkaneshiro) October 27, 2018
It took six periods in the mud at Kailua for the Marauders to regain their footing and they hit their stride in playoff wins over Leilehua and Castle to capture the OIA D-I crown a year after claiming the Division II title.
“These other games there were distractions, something going wrong,” Waipahu quarterback Cody Marques said after Friday’s 32-3 win over Castle at Aloha Stadium. “But this game was actually our full potential and the outcome is wonderful.”
After a mud-soaked 12-6 double-overtime win over Kailua on Oct. 12 to close the regular season, Waipahu dominated a rematch with Leilehua 29-6 in the semifinals last week and rolled past Castle, 32-3, on Friday at Aloha Stadium.
The victory over the Knights also gave Waipahu the OIA’s berth in the four-team Division I state tournament, which opens Nov. 9.
“To be able to win a championship and go on to the state championship, we’re the only team out of division to get that opportunity, that’s amazing,” Waipahu running back Alfred Failauga said after rushing for 177 yards and two touchdowns in Friday’s win.
Shifty between the tackles and explosive in the open field, Failauga ran for 187 against Leilehua last week and averaged 7.7 yards in his 47 carries in the OIA playoffs. He scored on runs of 27 and 58 yards on Friday while Marques passed for 146 yards and two touchdowns, both to Branson Jay Reyes.
After claiming the OIA D-II title last year, “we came here D-I and we showed that we compete,” Marques said. “Now look, we won OIA champs and we’re on to states.”
The Waipahu defense also continued to impress, going 12 quarters without giving up an offensive touchdown. The Marauders picked off three passes on Friday — giving them seven in the postseason — and scored on a takeaway for the second straight week when Manuele Pulusila returned a fumble 30 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
“(Defensive coordinator Ron Johnson) and his defensive staff have done an amazing job,” Waipahu coach Bryson Carvalho said. “We just had to stay disciplined.”
Castle was coming off of a 28-14 upset of top-seeded Moanalua and Carvalho said the Knights were
“very impressive and they moved the football.”
“We wanted to make sure we played assignment football and do your job and we were able to do that tonight,” Carvalho said.
The defense fed the offense opportunities and the Marauders generated 374 total yards while running away to a second rout of Castle this season.
“Defense was amazing,” Failauga said. “Without the defense we wouldn’t be the offense we are today.”
After clearing a spot in the trophy case for the latest addition, Waipahu will shift its focus to crafting another reversal when the Marauders open the D-I state tournament, most likely on their home field.
Waipahu traveled for D-II state tournament games the last two years, losing to Lahainalua 52-14 at War Memorial Stadium in 2016 and coming up short in a 53-50 shootout with Konawaena in last year.
“We’re going to celebrate tonight, we’re going to celebrate throughout the weekend. Come Monday I want to make sure our kids are aware we’re 0-2 in state tournaments since I took over,” Carvalho said. “So we want to make sure we turn that around and continue to play the way we’ve been playing the last two weeks.”