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Brody Bantolina And ‘Iolani’s Rock-Solid Defense Thwart Aiea 21-0 In D-I Football State Semifinal

Aiea’s fairytale season came to an end Friday night.

No. 7 ‘Iolani was just too much to handle. The Raiders topped Na Alii 21-0 in the Division I semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships at Farrington’s Skippa Diaz Stadium.

Brody Bantolina and Asher Matsui were two of the Raiders leaders in Friday’s victory.

It was the Brody Bantolina show. The speedy ‘Iolani running back took 29 handoffs for 168 yards and two touchdowns and he also scored on a 64-yard screen pass catch and run from Kualau Manuel, who was in the game for regular starting quarterback Micah Hoomanawanui.

Defensively for second-seeded ‘Iolani, Asher Matsui had 10 tackles and an interception, and Jacob Gaudi and Zion Junk both had two sacks to lead the way.

With the win, ‘Iolani advances to play Lahainaluna, the top seed, on Thursday in the D-I state championship game at 4 p.m. at the Farrington field. In an earlier semifinal at Farrington, the MIL D-I champion and eighth-ranked Lunas dispatched BIIF D-I winners and sixth-ranked Konawaena 30-7.

“We’ve been preparing for this all year,” Matsui said. “We’ve been playing every game like it’s our last game because we don’t know what’s going to happen in the world with the coronavirus. We came prepared and got the job done.”

And what about the upcoming game against Lahainaluna?

“They’re a good team that can run the ball, so we’re going to have to shut down the run like we’ve been doing all year,” Matsui added.

Added Bantolina: “It’s a great victory. We knew it was gonna be physical and that they’re bigger than us. But you know, we just did our part and the coaches put in the game plan and we just executed. Now it’s on to the next game.”

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Third-seeded Aiea (4-3) moved the ball pretty well, but could never get in golden position to score. Ezekiel Ollie finished with 170 passing yards while being sacked five times. Na Alii teammate Kaimana Lale-Saole was effective running the ball early and finished with 66 yards, but Aiea eventually went to the air more often than not in its comeback bid from 21 points down.

Logan Rouse, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound defensive end, had a whale of a game for Aiea with 10 tackles and two batted passes, and teammate Silia Unutoa added eight tackles.

Defensive end Logan Rouse and quarterback Ezekiel Ollie turned in strong games for Na Alii in the loss.

Na Alii hadn’t been to the state tournament since 2009.

“We had miscommunication, missed tackles,” Aiea’s Ollie said. “They were disciplined and we heard about how they were disciplined all week.”

But getting to states was a real accomplishment for Na Alii.

“For me, it’s still unreal because Aiea hadn’t made it this far in so long,” Rouse said. “We did the best we could. We came out and played with heart.”


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