Radford coach Fred Salanoa credited the Rams’ trip to Washington last week for reinforcing the bond forged in the preseason.
They returned to league play with a complete team performance in a 54-14 win at Pearl City on Friday night.
A week after setting the program’s scoring record in a 74-6 win over Mount Tahoma in Washington, all three phases contributed to Friday’s victory as the Rams pulled away from the Chargers to remain undefeated and tied with Nanakuli atop the OIA Division II standings at 5-0.
“I think a lot of our bonding was done in the offseason leading up to our preseason scrimmage versus Aiea,” Salanoa said. “I do feel the trip was just a reiteration of the importance of team and making sure we play for one another.”
The Radford offense scored on five of its first six possessions with quarterback Quintin Iriarte running for a touchdown and passing for two scores. Ace Faumui ended the night with 84 yards and three rushing touchdowns on just eight carries and Kodi Ongory-Mathias added 83 yards and a score.
The Rams surrendered more points in the first quarter than they had in their previous four games combined, but shut down the Chargers the rest of the way while limiting Pearl City to 56 yards in total offense. The Radford defense forced three turnovers (two fumble recoveries and a Fauimui interception) and was on the field for just 15 plays in the second half. Six tackles for losses pushed Pearl City back 31 yards.
A miscue on special teams, a muffed punt, contributed to the Rams falling behind early in the first quarter, but the Rams later blocked two punts to set up touchdowns. Jordan Walker reached out for a one-handed stuff in the second quarter and Chevy Villanueva blocked another early in the third quarter.
“That’s probably the No. 1 thing we do,” Salanoa said of the Rams’ emphasis on the kicking game. “We practice special teams every single day.
“We expect that from our young men and we pay attention to detail when it comes to special teams and we feel it’s just as important as having a decent offense and a decent defense.”
Well, the Rams have been a little more than decent on both sides of the ball this season while outscoring opponents 264-26 through five games. They’ll play host to Kalaheo (2-4, 2-3) next Saturday before a showdown with Nanakuli (5-1, 5-0) on Oct. 2 at Waianae.