FOCUS ON FOOTBALL: Common Opponent Tells Us Waipahu Vs. Konawaena Could Be A Blockbuster D-I State Title Game

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This particular football game has a built-in gauge that shows just how much of a blockbuster it could be.

We’re talking about OIA champion Waipahu vs. BIIF champ Konawaena in the Division I title game of the First Hawaiian Bank Football State Championships. Kickoff is Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Mililani High field.

If you compare how both of these teams did against one common opponent, then the forecast is for a completely hard-nosed, possibly back-and-forth, hard-hitting, down-to-the-wire affair.

The common opponent? Aiea Na Alii.

Waipahu (11-1) had its hands full twice against Aiea, dropping Na Alii 20-14 in the regular season and then forging back from 17 points down to knock off Aiea 38-30 in the OIA D-I championship game.

Konawaena (10-1), meanwhile, fell behind Na Alii by 7 points and rallied within the last six minutes to win 27-24 last Saturday in the state semifinals.

If you need any more information in order for you to believe that this game is likely to be close, we’ll take you back to 2017, when the Wildcats and Marauders met on the Big Island in the D-II semifinals. With the ball on the Konawaena 6, Waipahu was looking to punch it in and go ahead with less than a minute left, but a fumble turned the tide and the Wildcats won a wild one, 53-50.

Let it be known that Konawaena’s clutch win in that one led to one of the most memorable state tournament games ever — Lahainaluna’s 75-69 seven-overtime win over the Wildcats for the 2017 D-II state title.

“That 53-50 loss eats at my soul,” Marauders coach Bryson Carvalho told Bedrock Sports Hawaii. “That whole year we were undefeated up until that point. That group was prepared, but the ball didn’t bounce our way. We wish we had that game back.”

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Interestingly enough, one year after that, Waipahu moved up to Division I and went all the way to the 2018 state title.

Carvalho sees some similarities in the two squads, one of which will be bringing home a koa trophy on Saturday.

“We have similar offenses that try to stay balanced and stay up-tempo,” he said. “We’re a little bigger and they have a lot of athletes, guys that can move around.”

The Wildcats, who blazed through the BIIF undefeated by outscoring their D-I opponents 557-14 in nine games, learned a bit about their own toughness in the face of adversity against Aiea.

“We got to see the true resiliency of our group,” Uemoto said. “We have some special kids at Konawaena and we tend to see moments where they are physically outmatched against teams gifted with size and somehow find ways to overcome it and are never intimidated. Against Aiea, those kids did an outstanding job of executing what we installed all week.”

There is a wild card to all of this and his name is Liatama Uiliata, who has been finding ways to bring the Marauders to victory, whether it’s at quarterback, receiver, defensive back or punt returner.

“We have a game plan built around (stopping) him,” Uemoto said. “But can’t focus too much on him because they’re a very good team and we can’t lose sight of that and need to account for others.”

Zedekiah Anahu-Ambrosio (1,012 receiving yards, 20 TDs), who has established a great connection with Wildcats quarterback Keoki Alani (3,152 passing yards, 48 TDs) has been giving the Wildcats a magic touch,

“He’s just a sophomore and kind of a hidden gem right now,” the coach added. “Uiliata is a tremendous athlete, reminds me of an older version of Zed. They’re both very spirited and moments are never too big for them and they’re willing to carry their teams.”

Roonui Satta-Ellis, a key two-way player for Konawaena, says his team has extra incentive.

“Neighbor island teams and athletes work just as hard as any other, but we always get overlooked, as if the ocean separates us rather than connects us,” Satta-Ellis said. “Going to the ‘ship is our chance to show that the ocean connects us. We are just like everyone else.”

The Waipahu and Konawaena complete state tournament histories are below.

Waipahu Marauders At The State Tournament (1999 to present):

2004

Division II First Round
Nov. 19, 2004
>> Hawaii Prep 41, Waipahu 16, at Radford High field

2006

Division II First Round
Nov. 17, 2006
>> Waipahu 27, at Kamehameha-Hawaii 12
Division II Semifinals
Nov. 24, 2006
>> Kauai 17, Waipahu 6, at Vidinha Stadium

2011

Division II Semifinals
Nov. 18, 2011
>> At Waipahu 19, Lahainaluna 14
Division II Championship Game
Nov. 25, 2011
>> ‘Iolani 34, Waipahu 0, at Aloha Stadium

2016

Division II First Round
Nov. 4, 2016

>> Lahainaluna 52, Waipahu 14, at War Memorial Stadium

2017

Division II Semifinals
Nov. 3, 2017
>> At Konawaena 53, Waipahu 50

2018

Division I Semifinals                                 
Nov. 9, 2018
>> At Waipahu 20, ‘Iolani 19
Division I Championship Game
>> Waipahu 42, Hilo 22, at Aloha Stadium

2022

Division I First Round
Nov. 11, 2022
>> At Waipahu 49, Kapaa 41

Division I Semifinals
Nov. 19, 2022
>> Waipahu 35, at ‘Iolani 10

Konawaena Wildcats At The State Tournament (1999 to present):

1999

Quarterfinals
Nov. 19, 1999
>> Kahuku 47, Konawaena 14, at Aloha Stadium

2008

Division II First Round
Nov. 21, 2008
>> Campbell 25, at Konawaena 15

2011

Division II First Round
Nov. 12, 2011
>> Lahainaluna 23, Konawaena 6, at War Memorial Stadium

2012

Division II First Round
Nov. 10, 2012
>> Nanakuli 25, at Konawaena 23

2013

Division II First Round
Nov. 9, 2013
>> At Kaiser 59, Konawaena 6

2015

Division II First Round
Nov. 7, 2015
>> At Konawaena 42, Damien 33
Division II Semifinals
Nov. 14, 2015
>> Radford 48, Konawaena 46, at Roosevelt High field

2016

Division II Semifinals
Nov. 12, 2016
>> Lahainaluna 28, at Konawaena 14

2017

Division II Semifinals
Nov. 3, 2017
>> At Konawaena 53, Waipahu 50
Division II Championship Game
Nov. 18, 2017
>> Lahainaluna 75, Konawaena 69 (7 OT), at Aloha Stadium

2021

Division I Semifinals
Dec. 17, 2021
>> Lahainaluna 30, Konawaena 7, at Farrington High field

ALSO AT BedrockSportsHawaii.com:

Waimea And King Kekaulike To Make Momentous Appearance In D-II Football State Championship Game

Konawaena’s Nakoa Ige Is Bedrock Sports Hawaii’s Outstanding Football Player Of WEEK 16

Neighbor Islands Have Quite A Day In High School Football: Konawaena, Waimea, King Kekaulike Advance

Kale Ane’s Departure From The McKinley Job Brings Total Of Hawaii High School Football Coaching Vacancies To Four

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The Season As It Unfolds:

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