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Most Hawaii high school football fans expected Farrington to beat Waialua in the state’s season opener Thursday night at Skippa Diaz Stadium. And it happened, with the Govs dominating the Bulldogs throughout for a 42-7 final.
It was a feel-good win for the Governors (1-0) of OIA Division I despite the fact that their opponent is in the lower OIA D-II class. There had been nine straight losses.
And it came pretty close to being a feel-good loss for the Bulldogs. Despite being outgunned in manpower and size, they were sharp and moved the ball pretty well. Their offense was quick and peppy, if not end zone-bound often enough.
There were a whole bunch of offensive standouts, including a slew of hard-to-get Farrington runners and receivers. More on them later.
The bulk of this piece of cyberspace is being reserved for two noteworthy players, one from each team.
One is Iapani Laloulu, who is known as Poncho to friends and teammates. The other is Tyson Apau.
Laloulu, who has ping-ponged from Farrington early in his career to Saint Louis last year and back to the Govs in this his senior year, holds nine Division I offers.
Just as Waialua coach Gary Wirtz appeared to be done walking down the handshake line after the game, he was asked about his impressions of his own team. But coming up at the end of the line, there was actually one more Governor.
Wirtz made sure he got to shake this particular Farrington boy’s hand.
“Good game number 65,” he said before fielding questions from the media.
That Gov was Laloulu, whose presence is having a big effect on his teammates, according to Farrington coach Daniel Sanchez.
“Poncho is most important as a leader on and off the field,” the coach said. “That is huge when you have a guy doing the right thing as an example for the other guys. They can see that and they can kind of look up to him and say, ‘Hey, this is how we gotta do things.’ ”
On the Waialua side, Apau showed his mobility all night long, evading the onushing Governors defenders. He found room to make his throws and kept the chains moving.
“Their quarterback is awesome,” Sanchez said about Apau. “Definitely awesome.”
Apau finished with a 16-for-28 night with one touchdown pass. He also rushed for 23 yards and was only sacked once.
I thought Apau’s name sounded familiar. Sure enough, a Google search yielded this game story that I wrote in 2019: Roosevelt’s Aalona Monteilh Follows In Footsteps Of His Uncle.
In that game, Apau — only a freshman at the time — was one of two players taken by ambulance to the hospital.
And now, as promised, here’s a little more on those others from Farrington who had big offemsive nights:
>> Zechariah Molitau ran for 103 yards and had one rushing TD and one receiving TD.
>> Ikaika Kuaana-Lacno rushed for 50 yards and a TD.
>> Kamakana Tisalona-Perez returned a kickoff 80 yards for a TD.
>> Chansen Smith caught two passes for 71 yards with one TD.
Six points of news, opinion or analysis for reflection:
It must be a big game if OIA executive director Raymond Fujino is in attendance for a rare Thursday encounter. Fujino said that in years past, there has been a few season-opening games on Thursdays, including 2013 when Leilehua hosted the Vincent Massey Trojans from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
One idea that might bring more fans for the first contest every season: Have a planned kickoff classic each year with a school spirit contest at halftime. Farrington would be a great place to hold it, too. The school administration, including athletic director Harold Tanaka, did a fantastic job hosting the state tournament a year ago. That was an unexpected site, too. Aloha Stadium was already condemned to what still is a soon-to-come fate of being reduced to rubble. And the originally planned site, Mililani, had problems with its lighting and scoreboard.
Govs coach Sanchez was disappointed with his special teams unit that missed two field goals.
“Our field goal team is usually pretty good in practice,” he said.
Another part of Farrington’s special teams worked well on one play at least — Tisalona-Perez’s 80-yard kickoff return for a late first-half TD.
There were many members of the media covering Thursday’s game. Here are just some who were spotted: Michael Lasquero of ScoringLive.com, reporter Brian McInnis and intern Erin Fujitani of Spectrum, Billy Hull and Paul Honda of the Star-Advertiser, and Andrew Lee of Hawaii Media Source. Felipe Ojastro was also there, but because the game was not televised, he was not in his role as the Spectrum play-by-play man.
Fujitani, a 2017 Moanalua graduate, was a defensive specialist and beach volleyball player for the University of San Francisco in recent years.
She said she wants to go into sports broadcasting.
Seven of 12 teams that qualified for the state tournament, including the three champions, are in action this weekend:
Those games to watch are:
>> Saint Louis (state Open runner-up) at Mililani (state Open qualifier), 7:30 p.m.
>> ‘Iolani (state D-I champ) at Kaiser (state D-II qualifier), 7 p.m.
>> Kamehameha at Kahuku (state Open champ), 6:30 p.m.
>> Kapaa (state D-II champ) vs. Aiea (state D-I qualifier) , at Radford High field, 7:30 p.m.
Darnell Arceneaux, the former Saint Louis and Utah star quarterback and current Waialua athletic director, was helping coach Wirtz’s staff on the sideline Thursday. He looked like he was fit and ready to go in and take a few snaps.
Twelve years ago, Arceneaux was the Crusaders’ winning coach in the top-tier championship game, a 36-13 victory over Waianae.
In the first few years of the 21st century, Arceneaux also suited up as a quarterback for the Hawaiian Islanders in AF2, the Arena Football League’s developmental league.
Looking ahead to next week, two highly interesting matchups are on the schedule: Mission Viejo (California) at Mililani on Friday, and Lahainaluna vs. Hilo at Wong Stadium on the Big Island on Saturday.
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