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State football: Hilo makes history, breaks BIIF’s 0-19 D-1 skid

November 5, 2017 - 12:05am

HILO – That rain started to fall during the latter stages of the fourth quarter at Wong Stadium wasn’t a surprise, but it was symbolic.

The drought was all but over, both for Hilo and the BIIF.

Kaleo Apao threw for a score and spurred the rushing attack Saturday night, and the Vikings bottled up Maui’s run-heavy offense to claim history with a 26-7 victory, their first at the HHSAA Division I football playoffs.

Hilo started its season with a resounding, program-defining win on Oahu against Iolani of the ILH, and the Vikings will be back in Honolulu in two weeks to try and score an even bigger win in the state championship game against Damien of the ILH.

“We finally made it,” senior defensive lineman Kuresa Toledo said. “We put in the work and grinded it out.

“Big moment for us.”

Thanks to a stout defense and sound special teams, the five-time defending BIIF champion Vikings (9-2) needed only one touchdown from Kahale Huddleston — the 33rd he’s accounted for this season — to win their first state game in seven tries. The BIIF is now 1 and 19.

“They were keying on Kahale,” Apao said. “I told myself I had to make big plays.”

The central part of a three-man backfield, Naia Sakamoto was the Sabers’ offense, running for 134 yards, including a 67-touchdown run in the second quarter, and completing a 33-yard pass, one of the few completions for Maui (5-6) on the night.

With Huddleston (49 yards) mostly kept under wraps by Maui, Apao shrugged off two early interceptions and took a lead role in the running game, amassing 131 yards, including large chunks to spur two scoring drives.

The Vikings overcame the game’s first turnovers by forcing three of their own, including two interceptions by Micah Bello.

“We put so much time and effort into this, we couldn’t let it slip this time,” Toledo said.

Apao set up the go-ahead score in the third quarter with a 34-yard run, leading to Kaleo Ramos’s touchdown, and Apao’s 44-yard run led to a field goal.

Huddleston’s score was set up by Bello’s second interception.

Hilo’s touchdown in the second quarter came as a result of good special teams.

With Maui poised to get field good position, Makana Kanehailua unleashed a 62-yard punt from his end zone to flip the field. Later a punt by Kanehailua was downed at the 1, and after the Vikings forced a three-and-out, Elijah Apao returned a punt 16 yards to set Hilo up at Maui’s 27.

Huddleston ripped off his best run, going 18 yards, and after an Kaleo Apao touchdown pass was wiped out by a penalty, on the next play Apao found Guyson Ogata, who scampered into the end zone near the left pylon to give Hilo the lead, albeit a short-lived one.

On Maui’s next play from scrimmage, Naia Sakamoto took a handoff and ran around the right 67 yards for a score.

The game went to the half 7-7, but Hilo wasn’t to be denied this time.

“The first half was a battle,” senior center Koa Kapahu said. “I’m just trying to take in what just happened. I’m grateful we executed in the second half.”

Maui 0 7 0 0 — 7

Hilo 0 7 7 12 — 26

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