The Division II final of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA State Football Championships was, despite all of Kaimuki’s hearty effort, another demonstration in precision, execution and craftsmanship by the ‘Iolani Raiders.
A 49-14 win over Kaimuki was classic ‘Iolani. The Raiders were systematic on every level, whether it was a perfectly placed pooch kickoff recovery, gang-tackling super running back Chester Su’a, or persistently using motion to gain a numbers advantage in the running game.
"They forged their own way to a championship," coach Wendell Look said. "They added their own personality and character to this team. At times it wasn’t in line with how I was thinking, but they did things the right way to get it done. I’m proud of them. I’m happy for them."
The Raiders (9-3) limited Su’a to 77 yards on 16 carries.
"Defensively, they played as well as we had in the past, even with the big fellas up front (last year)," Look said. "With the smaller front inside, we still did a tremendous job of playing team defense. They were able to become the backbone of the team when everybody thought they would be the weak link."
Sophomore Reece Foy, the former third-stringer who emerged because of injuries to the top two quarterbacks, was 20-for-24 for 297 yards and five scoring tosses. His effectiveness was a result of ‘Iolani’s ground attack: 46 carries for 175 yards, including 105 by Ammon Baldomero.
"Offensively, we kind of grew as the season went along and matured into the offense. You can’t write it off as just one guy," Look said. "I’ve been on them all season about being able to run the ball. The past three games, they’ve established the run."
Foy credited the mainstays of the offense — a savvy line.
"Our O-line were put up to a big test against this physical Kaimuki front. Tiras (Koon) hurt his ankle Wednesday at practice," Foy said of the senior center. "He was carted off the field, but he played through the pain tonight. Everything starts with them up front."