Bears’ season ends
WAILUKU – The future appears bright for the Baldwin High School football team, but the Bears’ present is over.
Fourth-seeded Baldwin lost 21-3 to Farrington in a First Hawaiian Bank Division I State Championship quarterfinal in front of about 2,000 fans on an emotional Friday night at War Memorial Stadium.
The Governors played the game with heavy hearts – a moment of silence was held before the opening kickoff for Dayne Ortiz, a senior defensive back for Farrington who was lost at sea in a kayaking incident at Mokuleia Beach on Nov. 2. He has not been found.
The Governors wore “DO 29” on one side of their helmets to note Ortiz’s uniform number and honor their teammate.
“I just asked to bless everybody on their way home and to bless the family of Dayne Ortiz,” said Baldwin senior linebacker Teva Eldridge after he led a postgame prayer involving both teams. “Just bless everybody and thank God for watching over us tonight.”
The Governors (9-3) rallied from an early deficit and took a 14-3 lead into the locker room after outgaining the Bears 197 yards to 31. Farrington finished with 407 yards, while Baldwin (6-5) had 111.
Farrington went 69 yards in 14 plays in the third quarter before Kekoa Sasaoka’s 37-yard field-goal try bounced off the upright with 47 seconds left in the period.
On their next possession, the Bears stopped the Governors on downs at the Baldwin 10-yard line with 6:46 to play. The Bears did not gain a yard, however, and were forced to punt. Farrington then needed just five plays to go 45 yards and punch in its final touchdown on a 7-yard run by Sitaleki Hufanga with 3:49 to play.
Baldwin’s first third-down conversion came on the final play of the third quarter on a 5-yard reception by Jeremiah Badillo. Four of the Bears’ 11 first downs were via penalty and they finished 2-for-11 on third-down conversions.
“We just tried to push each other, our defense tried to hype up our offense,” Eldridge said. “We tried to get everybody motivated, but, you know, we came up short.”
Baldwin’s best chance in the second half ended with an interception by Roger Boyd with 1:15 to play at the Farrington 3. It was the Govs’ third interception of sophomore quarterback Taje Akaka-Foster, the only turnovers in the game.
The Governors had been 0-3 in state tournament games on Maui against the Bears, with losses in 1999, 2007 and 2011. Farrington is now 2-5-1 all-time against Baldwin.
“Bittersweet win,” Governors coach Randall Okimoto said. “We want to be happy, but at the same time we still feel the pain of the loss. We talked about it and we just said, ‘Hey, keep our heads in the game. We don’t want to be over-emotional’ and they came out, and like you said, I’m proud of them.”
Farrington advances to a semifinal game next week at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu against No. 1 seed Punahou.
“It doesn’t make up for the loss, not at all, but it sure is better than losing,” Okimoto said. “Our hearts go out to our family and the Ortiz family. Everything was for him.”
Baldwin took a 3-0 lead on a 43-yard field goal by Ricky Casco less than five minutes into the game.
After Casco boomed the ensuing kickoff into the end zone, Farrington went 80 yards in eight plays and took the lead on a 9-yard touchdown run by Sanele Lavatai, who finished with 105 rushing yards, all in the first half.
Hufanga carried 13 times for 75 yards, all in the second half, as Lavatai concentrated on linebacker.
Late in the second quarter, the Govs got the ball at the Bears’ 32 after Noah Apolo’s 13-yard punt under heavy pressure, and scored on a 12-yard pass from Montana Liana to Jacob Baguio with 32 seconds to go in the half.
Dusty Flores, the second-leading rusher in the Maui Interscholastic League this season, was limited to 9 yards on nine carries. Kawela Kaeo-Mata, the leading receiver in the MIL, had two receptions for 16 yards Friday.
Akaka-Foster was 17-for-26 for 107 yards in a game that Baldwin coach Keneke Pacheco said will set the stage for next season.
“It was a good game for us, a good coming-out,” Pacheco said. “It was emotional, it was emotional for us, it was emotional for them. I’m pleased with what I saw from my young men. We are going to use that as a springboard for next year.
“Anytime you can get these young men playing at the state level it is a great thing. For them, it is experience. Anytime you play a team of this caliber, you get that experience under your belts, that’s huge.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Farrington ….. 7 ….. 7 ….. 0 ….. 7-21
Baldwin ……… 3 ….. 0 ….. 0 ……. 0-3
Bal-Ricky Casco 43 FG, 7:17.
Far-Sanele Lavatai 9 run (Kekoa Sasaoka kick), 4:28.
Far-Jacob Baguio 12 pass from Montana Liana (Sasaoka kick), 0:32.
Far-Sitaleki Hufanga 7 run (Sasaoka kick), 3:49.
RUSHING-Far, Lavatai 16-105, Hufanga 13-75, Manu Masalosalo 5-28, C.J. Liana 2-5, Bryce Tatupu Leopoldo 1-4, Montana Liana 1-2, Bugsy Tui 1-2, Team 1-(minus 10). Bal, Keenan Luis 4-14, Dusty Flores 9-9, Jeremiah Badillo 1-(minus 3), Kawelu Kaeo-Mata 1-(minus 3), Taje Akaka Foster 8-(minus 13).
PASSING-Far, Montana Liana 14-27-0-196. Bal, 17-26-3-107.
RECEIVING-Far, Baguio 8-115, Akui Hughes 3-44, Enele Scanlan 2-24, Jacob McEnroe 1-13. Bal, Badillo 9-70, Atrell Tanaka 3-28, Kaeo-Mata 2-16, Josiah Maglente Tonu 1-2, Chris Kazanecki 1-(minus 3), Flories 1-(minus 6).
MISSED FIELD GOALS-Far, Sasaoka.