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Waianae returns to title game

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Waianae's Jaylen Mitchell cuts through the Mililani defense in the second half of the Division I semifinal game between the Seariders and Trojans.
  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Waianae's Jaylen Mitchell pointed skyward after a touchdown run during second-half action yesterday.
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Forty-two days since its first must-win of the season, Waianae is improbably one victory away from a state title in football.

The Seariders carved up 317 rushing yards and Puletua Wilson ran for three scores and threw for another as Waianae held off Mililani 48-41 to advance to the Division I final of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships last night at Aloha Stadium.

Unseeded Waianae (7-6), which was a Radford loss away from having its season end on Oct. 8, has turned it around dramatically to reach the state final for the first time. It reached its last Prep Bowl in 1997.

It’ll be the first title game for Seariders coach Daniel Matsumoto, who has watched his team come together after a 1-4 beginning.

"It’s really the captains themselves that have done a great job of keeping the morale of the team up," Matsumoto said. "As far as leadership goes, Pule (Wilson) really pulls this offense together and our offensive linemen have really started to learn the schemes and our running backs have run really hard."

Waianae’s turnaround can be directly connected to a sputtering offense that was held to seven points or less in four of its first five games.

Against Mililani, the Seariders were one off their season high in points and combined with the Trojans for the highest-scoring game in the history of the state tournament.

"It starts with the boys on our (offensive) line blocking for us," said Wilson, who carried the ball 10 times for 81 yards. "We’re not playing for ourselves, but we’re playing for our family and for the Waianae community out here, and we got one more game to give it our all."

Sophomore Jaylen Mitchell rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns as Waianae found the end zone on seven of its 12 drives.

Mililani’s offense was just as efficient, as Zachary Payomo rushed for a game-high 150 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Trent McKinney ran for 71 yards and two scores and threw for two more, including an 8-yard touchdown to Colby Lum with 7 minutes remaining to make it a one-possession game at 48-41.

Waianae had scored on its last four possessions and picked up a key first down as Wilson rumbled for 9 yards on third down. However, two plays later, Mitchell took a handoff from Wilson and was immediately crushed by Ryan Barsatan, knocking the ball loose. Cornerback Shayne Tanabe jumped on it at the 50-yard line, giving McKinney a chance to bring the Trojans even.

The senior quarterback pulled off runs of 12 and 14 yards, and scrambled for six on a fourth and 5 to get Mililani all the way to the Waianae 6-yard line.

After two runs put the ball at the 3-yard line, McKinney lobbed a pass to 6-foot-5 receiver Hassan Richardson in the corner of the end zone with only seconds remaining.

Richardson dwarfed Waianae cornerback Hookena Kamana, who was giving up a good 6 inches, but the undersized Kamana managed to pull Richardson’s arm away from the ball, stopping the Trojans with a second left.

On the next play, Ervan Jean-Pierre caught a swing pass in the flat, but was stuffed by Chavez Kauwalu to send Waianae on to the final.

"Before the snap, (safety) James (Wilson) said if they come my way he was going to help me," Kamana said of the play before. "I was just ready for the play and we were able to get the stop."

Kamana finished with nine tackles, two pass breakups and an interception, while James Wilson shared game-high honors with nine tackles as well. He also scored on a 6-yard touchdown run to give Waianae a 48-34 fourth-quarter lead.

"Waianae boys, we all have faith in our own players, and I had no doubt we had that," James Wilson said. "We couldn’t get that OIA, so the next thing we are trying to do is that state championship and we’re taking our chance at it."

The Trojans, who won their first OIA title, finished the season 10-2 with their only two losses coming to Waianae.

McKinney finished 23-for-38 for 300 yards passing, while Richardson had five receptions for 103 yards.

 

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at Aloha Stadium

Mililani (10-2) 7 13 14 7 41
Waianae (7-6) 14 6 21 7 48

Wain–Jaylen Mitchell 28 run (kick failed)
Mil–Trent McKinney 9 run (Jarin Morikawa kick)
Wain–Kanekapila Hussey 35 pass from Puletua Wilson (Bryson Panui pass from Wilson)
Wain–Wilson 4 run (kick failed)
Mil–Zachary Payomo 2 run (kick failed)
Mil–DeShawn Benson 8 pass from McKinney (Morikawa kick)
Wain–Wilson 1 run (run failed)
Mil–Payomo 12 run (Morikawa kick)
Wain–Wilson 41 run (Hookena Kamana pass from Wilson)
Wain–Mitchell 10 run (Shaughn Spencer kick)
Mil–McKinney 19 run (Morikawa kick)
Wain–James Wilson 6 run (Spencer kick)
Mil–Colby Lum 8 pass from McKinney (Morikawa kick)

RUSHING–Mil: Payomo 23-150, McKinney 15-71. Wain: Mitchell 12-120, P. Wilson 10-81, Bryson Panui 13-58, Hussey 2-30, Keola Bradley 3-15, J. Wilson 4-13.

PASSING–Mil: McKinney 23-38-1-300. Wain: P. Wilson 4-8-0-93.

RECEIVING–Mil: Lum 7-69, Nainoa Pihana 6-63, Hassan Richardson 5-103, Benson 3-58, Ervan Jean-Pierre 2-7. Wain: Lawrence Akana 1-41, Hussey 1-35, Panui 1-13, J. Wilson 1-4.

 

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