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Aukai Emayo’s 230 Rushing Yards Push Waimea Past Kaiser 48-7 For First Football State Tournament Victory Since 2002


The circle of football life is an apt way to think about the Waimea Menehunes football program over the last 23 years.

After opening the century with a bang in the state tournament, a very long drought ensued.

But all of those dry years are in the past now. Waimea rolled by Kaiser 48-7 on Saturday at Hanapepe Stadium in the Division II first round of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships for their first victory at states since 2002.

Next Saturday, it’s on to the semifinals at BIIF D-II champion Honokaa (10-1), the second-seeded team that was awarded a first-round bye.

The Waimea Menehunes about to take a snap in a game earlier this season.

With Aukai Emayo gaining 230 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries, Waimea used the ground game as its calling card. Kaili Arakaki added two rushing touchdowns and made four tackles on defense.

For the Cougars (6-5), Blaze Kodama was a defensive spark plug with 6.5 tackles.

Offensively, quarterback Easton Yoshino — who was back from an injury he suffered in a 35-21 OIA D-II title game loss to Nanakuli two weeks ago — threw for 250 yards, including a 3-yard TD strike to Donovan Reis.

It was the final game of Yoshino’s brilliant career that was cut one season short due to COVID-19. He finished among the passing leaders in state history in yards and touchdowns. This season, he completed 231 of 379 passes for 3,092 yards, 35 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

For the Menehunes (7-2), this is a significant win. Before state classification in 2003, they went 3-4 in state tournament games from 1999 through 2002, and those four losses were to state powerhouses Saint Louis and Kahuku twice each.

To get the program back on the winning track, coach Kyle Linoz went back to basics. Earlier this season, he pointed to two games from a year ago in which the Menehunes played quite strong in 15-0 and 20-6 losses to KIF champion Kapaa as a catalyst and rallying cry.

“That would be unbelievable to represent the KIF at states,” Linoz told Bedrock Sports Hawaii in September, “especially after seeing what Kapaa did last year (wins of 51-0 over Hawaii Prep in the semifinals and 61-7 over Kamehameha-Maui in the 2021 D-II state championship game). We can compete with Kapaa and we want to have a chance to try to do what they did.”

This year, Waimea upended Kapaa 7-0 before losing to the Warriors twice in a row, 24-6 and then in a 3-0 slugfest in the de facto league championship game.

And those Warriors on Friday night took a huge 35-13 lead in the higher state Division I first round against Waipahu before falling victim 49-41 to an incredible comeback by the Marauders led by Liatama Uiliata.



Nov. 19, 1999
>> Waimea 20, Kailua 18, at Vidinha Stadium
Nov. 26, 1999
>> Saint Louis 56, Waimea 0, at Aloha Stadium


Nov. 17, 2000
>> Kahuku 43, Waimea 17, at Aloha Stadium


Nov. 16, 2001
>> Waimea 41, Castle 20, at Vidinha Stadium
Nov. 23, 2001
>> Kahuku 21, Waimea 7, at Aloha Stadium


Nov. 22, 2002
>> Waimea 24, Kailua 21, at Vidinha Stadium
Nov. 29, 2002
>> Saint Louis 51, Waimea 0, at Aloha Stadium


Division II Semfinals
Nov. 28, 2003
>> Damien 17, Waimea 13, at Vidinha Stadium


Division II First Round
>> Waimea 48, Kaiser 7, at Hanapepe Stadium



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HHSAA: New Cheerleading Scoring System A Success; Also, Moanalua And ‘Iolani Win State Championships


The Season As It Unfolds:

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