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  • Nick Abramo-Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Kahuku beats Mililani in thriller for OIA title


STEVEN ERLER / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

Kahuku quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava, above, leaped away from Mililani’s Jalen Tuivaiave-Olomua during the first half of the OIA championship at Aloha Stadium.

The Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I football championship game ended up as a tense, nightlong tug-of-war, and it was Kahuku outlasting Mililani 35-31 for its 26th league title. The Red Raiders (10-1) won it in dramatic fashion, going ahead for good with 1:34 to go on Sol-Jay Maiva’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Kaonohi Kaniho. “I’m happy for our players,” said Kahuku coach Makoa Freitas, whose Red Raiders will meet Waianae in the semifinals of the state tournament’s Open Division. “I’m happy for our seniors. I can’t say enough about the effort they put into our program and keeping it at a high level. We had to survive the storm kind of and just weather it and see what we could do.” It was a heartbreaking loss for the Trojans (10-1), who grabbed a 31-28 lead on Dillon Gabriel’s 11-yard TD pass to Kilifi Malepeai with less than five minutes remaining. Alex Fonoimoana-Vaomu was one of the heroes for Kahuku. After Mililani jumped ahead 24-21 on Damien Santiago’s 32-yard field goal, Fonoimoana-Vaomu stripped the ball from Mililani receiver Cy Kuboyama-Hayashi and rumbled 45 yards for a TD and a 28-24 edge.

STEVEN ERLER / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER

Kahuku’s Alex Fonoimoana-Vaomu, bottom, and Miki Ah You upended Mililani’s Kilifi Malepeai in the first half.

“The feeling right now is inexpressible,” Fonoimoana-Vaomu said. “It’s hard to describe it. We played our hearts out.” Kahuku came out storming after trailing 21-14 after intermission. The Trojans had the edge in firepower in the first 24 minutes, but the Red Raiders weren’t about to give away the championship that they’ve owned the past two years and 19 of the past 29 seasons. The Trojans took an early 21-7 lead on the arm of Gabriel, who finished with 297 yards passing to Maiava’s 248. Gabriel’s 15-yard TD pass to Josiah Sampaga and 49-yard scoring throw to Ryan Chang in addition to Jalen Tuivaiave-Olomua’s 5-yard TD run had the Trojans in command. But Kahuku got a boost from the bull-like Toalei Lefau, who scored on a 25-yard pass from Maiava to keep the Red Raiders within seven, 21-14, at the break. After the half, Lefau struck again with a 1-yard run for a 21-21 deadlock after three quarters. “I’m proud of my boys, man,” said Mililani coach Rod York, whose Trojans meet No. 1 Saint Louis in the state semifinals. “They left it on the field, and that’s all you can ask for as a coach. Give credit to Kahuku. They earned it and they took it from us. Their playmakers made plays and, shoot, I give it to them.”

Kahuku beats Mililani in thriller for OIA title

#SolJayMaiava #MakoaFreitas #ToaleiLefau #KaonohiKaniho #AlexFonoimoanaVaomu