The debate was heated all week, as even our poll on who would win came out very close. However, the teams settled it on the football field, as it should be, and Kahuku will walk away the victors on this night.
Aofaga Wily rushed for 180 yards as the No. 1 seeded Kahuku defeated second-seeded Punahou 30-24 on Friday night to win the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division I State Football Championship at Aloha Stadium.
Vililami Livai threw two touchdown passes to help Kahuku (12-1) win its fourth Division I state title and sixth HHSAA championship overall.
The Red Raiders are the first team from the OIA to win since Leilehua in 2007. It’s the second championship for Red Raiders coach Reggie Torres, who also won in his first year after taking over for Siuaki Livai in 2006.
Kahuku’s defense forced five turnovers by Punahou (11-3), including three interceptions by quarterback Larry Tuileta. Punahou pulled within a touchdown at 24-17 when Tuileta hit Steven Lakalaka for a 24-yard touchdown on fourth and 6 with 6:57 remaining.
Mahonilai Fakatou scored on a 30-yard touchdown run with 1:47 left to push Kahuku’s lead to 13 after a missed extra point. Tuileta hooked up with Lakalaka on a 6-yard TD pass with 24 seconds left, but Punahou couldn’t recover the ensuing onsides kick.
The Buffanblu are 5-2 all-time in the Division I state tournament, losing twice to Kahuku in the final. Wily’s 180 rushing yards are the fourth most in a championship game dating back to the first Prep Bowl in 1973.
The game was as exciting as everyone thought it would be. Kahuku seemed to be pulling away with ease, leading 24-7 at the half, but Punahou made it a game in the second half, only to come up a score short, as Kahuku was able to hold them off.
Congratulations to Kahuku. The 2011 division I Hawaii state high school football champions.