Waipahu rolls into OIA D-I title game

Oct. 28—Waipahu advanced to the championship game of the OIA Division I playoffs with a decisive 37-21 win over Leilehua on Friday night at Masa Yonamine Athletic Complex.

The express train is rolling on for the Waipahu Marauders.

Waipahu advanced to the championship game of the OIA Division I playoffs with a decisive 37-21 win over Leilehua on Friday night at Masa Yonamine Athletic Complex.

Sophomore quarterback Elijah Mendoza passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns, while Eric Stephens continued a brilliant season with eight receptions for 111 yards and TD hauls of 24 and 37 yards.

"It's the belief. All we have to do is go hard at practice every time, 100 %. All the dedication and belief, everybody has to trust in each other, " Mendoza said.

Waipahu (5-4 overall ) will meet Farrington for the OIA D-I crown next weekend.

"I feel good. This is our goal. This is what we work hard for. I'm happy. We've got a lot of stuff to clean up. We're inconsistent, but that's just me being a perfectionist, " Waipahu coach Bryson Carvalho said.

The Marauders also got 98 rushing yards on 17 carries from running back Faafetai Failauga. Defensively, they had four takeaways, including an interception by linebacker Isaiah Iosefa.

"We had our game plan. We stuck with it. We were focusing on their run. No. 9 (Cole Northington ) is a hell of a player, " Iosefa said.

Northington eclipsed the 1, 000-yard rushing mark, finishing with 91 hard-earned yards on 26 carries for a young Leilehua (5-6 ) squad.

"No matter what the score, our team will compete to the last whistle. Waipahu's a very good team, very well coached. I felt we could've played better. I could've done a better job coaching, preparing our guys, " Leilehua coach Mark Kurisu said. "All the credit goes to Waipahu and their staff and players. Hopefully, they continue their run."

Leilehua had a 7-0 lead after Hanohano Plunkett found Timothy Arnold for a 66-yard touchdown. However, Plunkett suffered a head injury later in the first half and did not return. The Mules were intercepted by Stephens, who played both ways, and Nick Lotu in the first half as the Marauders took control of the game.

Waipahu got on the scoreboard moments later on Mendoza's 24-yard toss to Stephens at the left pylon. The Marauders lined up in a muddle-huddle formation on the PAT, and Tai Aipia-Barrett's lob was caught by Chazen Rodillas-Vesido for two points, and Waipahu led 8-7 with 5 :08 to go in the first half.

The Marauders scored again on a seven-play, 80-yard drive. Aipia-Barrett scored on a 6-yard run as Waipahu ran an option pitch to the right. On the 2-point conversion, Failauga scored up the middle to give the Marauders a 16-7 lead with 8 :54 left in the first half.

Plunkett took a hit to the head from Iosefa while sliding on a third-down keeper up the middle.

Waipahu dug into its bag of tricks as Mendoza fired a backward pass to Jayden Chanel, who launched a perfect spiral into the end zone to Stephens for a 37-yard TD. Chanel also caught the pass from Aipia-Barrett and scored on the 2-point conversion for a 24-7 Waipahu lead with 2 :15 before intermission.

Backup QB Logan Peters guided the Mules to a score. Northington scored on a 4-yard TD, bringing Leilehua within 30-13 with 4 :39 left in the third quarter.

In the junior varsity playoff game, Waipahu rallied for an 8-7 win over Leilehua. Suivai Hilosabanal's 10-yard TD run gave Leilehua a 7-0 lead with 8 :39 to go in the third quarter.

Waipahu RB Arona Ligina scored on a 5-yard TD run, then plunged up the middle on the 2-point conversion to give the home team an 8-7 lead with 4 :47 remaining.