‘Iolani Falls in Heart-Breaking Fashion to Hilo in D1 State Championships

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A red wave of Raider fans crowded the Aloha Stadium bleachers tonight as ‘Iolani Raiders faced Hilo Vikings on HHSAA D1 State Football Championships. After a dominant victory against Moanalua Menehunes at the semifinals, the Raiders had high hopes against the Vikings to bring a Division I football title to ‘Iolani for the first time in the program’s history under Head Coach Wendell Look. However, the honor of state champion went to Hilo with a final score of 20-17 after a heart-breaking 55-yard game-winning field goal.

The Raiders dominated the first quarter, with quarterback Jonah Chong ’20 and his receivers showing off their big-play ability with multiple 20+ yard completions. After a catch and run of 31 yards, receiver Wailoa Manuel put up the first points of the game with a 45-yard field goal. Defensive backs Trevor Kan ’20 and Lanakila Pei ’20 led the way defensively, holding Vikings’ quarterback Kyan Miyasato to three completions on seven attempts through the first quarter. Hilo could not find success in the trenches either, with running back Lyle Silva only averaging 2.6 yards-per-carry through five attempts. By the end of the first quarter, the Raiders managed to score the first touchdown of the game behind a 2-yard run into the endzone by Chong.

The second quarter provided more of a stalemate between the teams, with the first score coming in the latter half of play. With 5:30 minutes left in the quarter, the Vikings scored their first points on a 47-yard field goal after gaining 50 yards through the air. However, with time expiring, Pei retrieved a Vikings’ punt and rushed 94 yards down the sideline for a Raider touchdown. Pei’s unbelievable return sent Raider Nation into a frenzy as ‘Iolani went into the locker room up 17-3.

However, the tides began to turn for the Raiders in the third quarter. ‘Iolani continued to show success marching down the field, the offense failed to score for the rest of the match. The rushing tandem of Brock Hedani ’20 and Brody Bantolina ’22 particularly struggles, accumulating only 51 rushing yards in total with no touchdowns. Without offensive momentum, the defense began showing cracks. With the quarter nearly over, Vikings’ receiver Kilohana Haasenritter rushed into the endzone from the 6-yard line, cutting the Raider’s lead to seven points going into the final 12 minutes of play.

After stunting another ‘Iolani drive following Haasenritter’s score, the Vikings seemed to take control over their newfound momentum. This became evident with 7:10 minutes left in the quarter when Vikings’ receiver Guyson Ogata caught a 78-yard pass from Miyasato and rushed into the Raiders’ endzone for the game tying touchdown. With the pressure on, Chong and the offense began frequently attempting to pass the ball downfield, but the Vikings’ secondary suffocated the air attack. Over the span of two minutes in particular, Chong attempted to deliver 4 passes directed to ‘Iolani’s receptions leader Carter Kamana ’20, but all fell incomplete. With under a minute left, Hilo found themselves in scoring position to take the championship with a single score. Luckily, the Raiders’ defense held and forced kicker Keanu Keolanui to attempt the game-winning field goal from 55 yards out. In what will surely go down in high school sports history, Keolanui amazingly hit the lower crossbar only for the ball to travel forward, making the field good from the farthest point possible.

The game ended in crushing fashion with a final score of 20-17 to give Hilo their second Division I championship in the last three seasons. This year was surely a historical one for the Raiders, with Coach Look earning his 200th win and receiver Carter Kamana ’20 becoming ‘Iolani’s all-time receptions leader. Although the players cannot look forward to a black banner in the rafters, they can be proud of their hard work over the past three months to become one of the most dominant teams in the state. Although the 2019 Raiders may not have a championship to their name, the greater ‘Iolani community will always remember the incredible performances the team put on the field each and every week.