Iolani tops Radford for DII title, 34-20
|||Kahuku turns back Punahou for Division I championship|
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Wes Nakama
After 100 victories over the past 15 seasons, Iolani School football coach Wendell Look finally has a championship trophy to show for his program's perennial success.
Look's Raiders held off Radford, 34-20, last night to win the Division II state title at Aloha Stadium. It is Iolani's first championship at the statewide level since 1980, when it tied Wai'anae 7-7 in the Prep Bowl, which was then the "mythical" state title game.
"This gives our kids something to hang their hat on," said Look, who is 100-73-2 since taking over in 1991. "Our teams have always been competitive, but we didn't really have a chance to win a championship against the bigger schools. This Division II title gives schools like ours, with kids like ours, something they can strive for. Our kids invested a lot and sacrificed a lot for this, and it's finally paid off. I'm very proud of them."
The Raiders, with only five players weighing more than 200 pounds, were undersized again last night, but made adjustments to contain Radford's running attack after the first quarter. The Rams (9-3) rushed for 94 yards in that opening period and led 10-3, but Iolani (9-4) regrouped to take a 17-13 lead into halftime. After the teams traded third-quarter touchdowns, the Raiders went up 27-20 in the fourth on Kody Adams' 21-yard field goal and then sealed the victory with Mike Hirokawa's 15-yard TD run with 2:56 remaining.
Radford went three-and-out after the ensuing kickoff, and Iolani was able to run out the clock.
Hirokawa, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior running back, finished with a career-high 217 yards on 23 carries and scored two touchdowns.
"After seeing what he does in practice, nothing surprises me anymore," said Raiders linebacker Jon Takamura. "I think he makes our defense better, having to practice against him all the time."
Iolani needed the preparation, because Radford had its own outstanding tailback in senior Alex Daniels, who rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries last night. He gained 55 of those yards in the first quarter alone on eight carries, but then was held to 83 yards on 22 rushes the rest of the game.
"Our defense was getting over-anxious in the first quarter," Look said. "We just had to settle the kids down and squeeze everything in a little more."
Takamura said Daniels was able to dart around and through many of the Raiders early on.
"We just had to tackle better," Takamura said. "He's a slippery back, so we had to try to contain him more on the inside and wrap him up."
The Rams had similar problems with Hirokawa, who had 76 yards on 10 carries in the first half. Raiders quarterback Kiran Kepo'o completed 8 of 13 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown in the first two quarters, but attempted only six passes in the second half as Hirokawa carried more of the offensive load.
"I envisioned us being able to run the ball well tonight," Look said. "The way their secondary was committing to the pass, and the way they were bringing the pressure up front, I thought we'd be able to slip Mikey through."
Radford coach Fred Salanoa said his defense did a decent job on Hirokawa for most of the game, but a couple of missed tackles led to long runs, including one of 56 yards that led to a late third-quarter touchdown which put Iolani up, 24-20.
"He's a great running back, very shifty," Salanoa said. "If you have just one missed assignment or try to make a shoelace tackle, you're not going to get him."
Hirokawa, a third-year letterman, said the Raiders' 28-7 loss to Campbell in last year's state title game served as motivation last night.
"You don't get this opportunity too often, but we've had it two years in a row," Hirokawa said. "We wanted to make sure it didn't slip by again."
Takamura also said last year's loss was still fresh in their minds.
"We knew what it felt like to lose this game, and we didn't want to lose again," he said.
Salanoa said that despite his team's loss, he believes the Rams played like champions.
"We didn't win, but I'm proud of my guys because they didn't give up and fought to the very end," Salanoa said. "That's what championship teams do."
RADFORD (9-2) 10 3 7 0—20
IOLANI (9-4) 3 14 7 10—34
RAD—Alex Daniels 5 run (Jamie Whitworth kick)
IOL—FG Kody Adams 30
RAD—FG Whitworth 26
IOL—Travis Nishioka 35 pass from Kiran Kepoço (Adams kick)
IOL—Mike Hirokawa 4 run (Adams kick)
RAD—FG Whitworth 20
RAD—Daniels 1 run (Whitworth kick)
IOL—Nishioka 10 pass from Kepoço (Adams kick)
IOL—FG Adams 21
IOL—Hirokawa 15 run (Adams kick)
Reach Wes Nakama at email@example.com.