Warriors = Warriors on football field…almost

Quarterback+Kala%60i+Yap+runs+a+play+while+trying+to+avoid+a+tackle+from+Kapa%60a+during+a+pre-season+game+at+Kana%60iaupuni+stadium+on+August+18%2C+2012.+The+KS+Warriors+lost+27-13.

Photo by Reid Cairme

Quarterback Kala`i Yap runs a play while trying to avoid a tackle from Kapa`a during a pre-season game at Kana`iaupuni stadium on August 18, 2012. The KS Warriors lost 27-13.

By Reid Cairme, Sports editor

PUKALANI – The KS Maui Warriors varsity football team was locked equally in a heated pre-season battle against the Kapa’a Warriors this Saturday at Kana’iaupuni Stadium, but in the last two minutes of the game, the Kapa’a Warriors tipped the scales and the Maui Warriors lost 27-13.

Despite the loss, the Maui Warriors showed vast improvement from their 2011 match-up with Kapa’a, where they were routed 36-0.

“I think KS beat us for three and a half quarters,” Kapa’a Head Coach Keali’i Morgado said. “We only won the last six minutes.”

When the game started, it looked as if it would be a repeat of last year’s game. Within the first two minutes, Kapa’a running back Leevi Bathel scored. That was followed by a successful point-after kick by Jonathan Paleka, and the score was 7-0, Kapa’a.

Soon after, the Maui Warriors fumbled the ball on a pass which allowed the Kapa’a Warriors to take possession on the KSM 1 -yard line and put them in perfect position to score, which they did on a rush by Kapa’a quarterback Fresno Masaniai.

But Maui began to fight back, and the KS Warriors’ linebacker William Nipp sacked the Kapa’a kicker on the extra point attempt. The first quarter ended 13-0, Kapa`a in the lead.

KS Maui started the second quarter at their 20-yard line after Kapa’a’s fourth down kick rolled into the end zone. A nearly 65-yd. run by Kamehameha quarterback Kala’i Yap, a 12-yd carry by sophomore Chase Newton, and a late hit penalty against Kapa’a helped move Maui to within 6 yards of the goal four minutes into the quarter.

Yap finished the push when he held onto the ball and dove over the corner of the goal line to score. Kapa’a blocked the PAT, and the score was 13-6.

“Im proud of the O-Line,” said Makoa Medeiros, senior running back. “They have improved greatly since last year.”

On their next drive, the Maui Warriors were having trouble getting into Kapa’a territory. Still on the KSM side of the field, Kapa’a was hit with a man in motion penalty, pushing them back and giving the KS Warriors a bonus 10-yard gain and re-set of their downs.

From that point, the team moved forward slowly but surely with Yap, Newton, and senior Stephen Barut moving the ball. Newton also came in for Yap at one point after Yap was briefly sidelined to recover from a minor injury.

Fans were on pins and needles when, with nine seconds left in the quarter and on their third down, Yap’s pass to wide receiver Billy Ayakawa in the end zone bounced off Ayakawa’s hands, and the Maui Warriors were left with one last chance to score and six seconds on the clock.

Yap passed again, this time to wide receiver Jamal Jones at the opposite corner of the end zone. The pass was good and Jones scored. The point after kick was successful, and the score was 13-13 with four seconds left on the clock.

“I was completely impressed by their intensity and discipline,” Coach Morgado said. “Their performance is a testament to great coaching and hard work by the players.”

The sides struggled equally in the third quarter, pushing each other back and forth, but they were locked in a tie throughout that quarter and most of the fourth, and the Maui Warriors were poised for redemption when Kapa’a’s Reece Hickse-Whetsel found a lane and scored a touchdown with 1:42 left on the clock and a successful extra point score.

“Defensively, we found a way to stop KS and give our O-Line the ball back,” said Coach Morgado.

The KSM Warriors were trapped at their own 20-yard line after Kapa`a kicked the ball into the KS end zone after their score. The KS Warriors struggled to fight their way out, but turned the ball over deep in their own territory setting up Kapa’a’s Massaniai to score one last time. The Kaua’i Warriors got the point after touchdown and the score was 27-13.

“We got lucky in the last quarter,” Kapa`a Linebacker Dustyn DeSilva said.

The KS Warriors took their ground game to the air with a series of attempted Hail Mary passes in the 39 seconds that were left in the game, but none of the passes found their way into the hands of a receiver.

“The bottom line is that they know how to win,” KS Maui Varsity Head Coach Kevin O’Brien said, “and we need to learn how to win.”

See the new and improved Kamehameha Warriors play their first Maui Interscholastic League game against Maui High at War Memorial Stadium on Friday, August 24. The junior varsity will play at 4:30 and the varsity game will be at 7:00 p.m.

“I’m trying to convince them they can do it,” Coach O’Brien said. “I believe in them.”

Earlier in the day, the junior varsity lost to the Kapa’a junior varsity team, 25-0.