By: Wes Nakama
In a typically tough, smashmouth football game between two longtime OIA rivals, Farrington held off visiting Kailua, 13-10, Friday night to advance to its first league championship game since 2016.
A tense crowd of about 2,000 at Skippa Diaz Stadium watched Governors defensive back Willis Lilly intercept a pass in the end zone with 1:58 remaining to end the Surfriders’ final drive and allow Farrington to run out the clock and improve to 6-2. The Govs will face Waipahu — a 37-21 victor over Leilehua — for the OIA DI title next weekend. Kailua’s season ends at 5-5.
“Traditionally, every time we play Kailua, it’s always a battle,” Farrington coach Daniel Sanchez said. “They’re a bunch of tough kids, and they played a helluva game. Sometimes it’s not pretty, but a win is a win and we get to play on.”
The Surfriders got on the scoreboard first, with Matthew Mashiba’s 33-yard field goal three minutes into the game capping an 11-play, 65-yard drive. That 3-0 lead surprisingly held until midway through the second quarter, when Sitani Mikaele’s 3-yard touchdown run ended an 11-play, 85-yard march. On the previous carry, Mikaele rambled for 28 yards but landed awkwardly on his right ankle after trying to leap over a defender.
“It was tough, but I didn’t want to go out,” said Mikaele, a senior fullback who finished with 145 yards rushing and two TDs on 30 carries to push his state-leading total to 1,149 yards. “It was bugging me, it was really sore. But I had to keep going.”
Mikaele later had six carries in a 50-yard drive, including the final four yards to help extend the lead to 13-3 with 2:45 remaining in the third quarter. But this time Kailua answered quickly, traveling 60 yards in just five plays, aided by a pass interference penalty on third-and-6 and capped by Romeo Ortiz’s 34-yard scamper to paydirt on a quarterback keeper with 17 seconds left in the period. Mashiba’s extra point cut it to 13-10.
Then late in the fourth quarter, the Surfriders marched 56 yards in nine plays, including an 8-yard run by Ortiz followed by a late hit penalty on fourth-and-4, putting the ball on the Farrington 31.
But on the next play, Ortiz launched a long pass to the left front corner of the end zone, where Lilly was able to make the interception.
“I had a feeling they were going to my side,” Lilly said. “I give props to Kailua … but we knew we had to step up on defense. They put the game in our hands, and we came through. To go to a championship game is a blessing.”
Both teams struggled with their air attack — Kailua had just 14 yards passing, and Farrington only 25. But they each established a solid ground game, with the Governors churning out 198 yards rushing, and the Surfriders 174.
“That’s the type of football we like — we like ‘ground and pound,’ ” Kailua coach Joe Wong said. “It fell into what we do, we’re physical, too, and it showed out there today. It was a tough game all the way down to the wire. I just wish we would have had a better shot at the end … We had our opportunities all game, it was a slugfest back and forth — we stopped them, they stopped us, and one mistake in the end cost us.”
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