Roosevelt earns its first state-tournament victory
Roosevelt’s Rough Riders are riding high. In front of their home fans Saturday night at Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium, the newly minted OIA champions defeated Pac-Five 20-7 for the first state tournament victory in school history in the Division II quarterfinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships.
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Roosevelt’s Rough Riders are riding high.
In front of their home fans Saturday night at Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium, the newly minted OIA champions defeated Pac-Five 20-7 for the first state tournament victory in school history in the Division II quarterfinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships.
But the win didn’t come easy. After Roosevelt took a 14-0 lead, Pac-Five scratched back to make it 14-7 to put a little bit of worry into the Rough Riders, who closed it out with the clinching touchdown — Keneke Gusman’s 7-yard run — with just 21 seconds left.
“I feel like we made history,” said Roosevelt defensive lineman Chayden Sasaki-Kalamau, who racked up five sacks among his team-leading seven tackles. “The school hasn’t been to states for a long time. I think people have been sort of sleeping on us, but we’re finally making them believe. I felt this game was too close. I felt we should have been up by more.”
A major test awaits the Rough Riders (12-1). They visit No. 6 Lahainaluna (9-0), the two-time defending D-II state champion, in the semifinals next Saturday.
“Pac-Five has gotten a lot better since the first time we played them (a 17-15 win by the Rough Riders),” Roosevelt coach Kui Kahooilihala said. “They came out ready to go. Their defense gave us problems tonight. For us offensively, it was executing, taking care of the ball, and eliminating turnovers. We were concerned (when the Wolfpack cut it to 14-7), but we had confidence in our guys. The kids knew what they had to do to get the ‘W.’ The kids are up for the challenge against Lahainaluna, and hopefully we can go out there and get a win.”
Mitchell Camacho’s 29-yard touchdown run gave Roosevelt a 7-0 lead on the game’s first possession.
The rest of the first half, however, turned into a field-position battle. Fortunately for the Rough Riders, they took advantage of a high Wolfpack punt snap that allowed them to set up shop at the Pac-Five 4 just before halftime. On the next play, Aalona Monteilh was in the end zone with a 4-yard TD run for a 14-0 lead with 3:37 to go before the break.
Late in the third quarter, Noah Johnson’s punt block gave Pac-Five (4-5) new life. Five plays later, quarterback Rocket Uechi found Angelo Coluccio in the left corner of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown to make it 14-7.
The Wolfpack’s offense got into Roosevelt territory five other times in the game, but were stopped after going as far as the Rough Riders’ 29, 25, 41, 38 and 35. That last penetration ended in an interception by Roosevelt’s Josh Maikui. From there, the Rough Riders closed it out with the winning drive.
It was the Rough Riders’ second appearance in the D-II state tourney. In 2007, they lost to Kauai 40-9 in a first-round game.
Pac-Five was making its first state-tournament appearance. The Wolfpack were playing their biggest game since winning the 1985 Oahu Prep Bowl, the precursor to the state championship.
“We learned from this,” Pac-Five coach Kip Botelho said. “These guys have never been here. We’ve got a lot of youth on this team and it showed tonight in spots. But we’re getting better and growing. Congratulations to Roosevelt. They played a great game. They’re tough and they have good athletes all over the place.”