Baldwin Host Farrington in Div. I Playoff Opener
By Rodney S. Yap
The Farrington High School football team enter tonight’s First Hawaiian Bank/Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I Football State Championships against Baldwin here with heavy hearts.
Farrington, the Oahu Interscholastic Association’s Red runner-up, faces Maui Interscholastic League-champion Baldwin at 6 p.m. (live on OC16 channel 12) without cornerback Dayne Ortiz, who was lost at sea last Saturday, Nov. 2, at Mokuleia Beach on Oahu.
Ortiz, considered by Governors’ head coach Randall Okimoto as one of the most improved players, helped Farrington in the OIA Red championship game one night before the tragedy. Ortiz was fishing with his family and on a kayak when rough waters capsized it. After being missing for several days, authorities called off the extensive search.
The team paid tribute to him and the Ortiz family Sunday when coaches and players visited Mokuleia Beach.
The Governors (8-3) had their eight-game win streak snapped in the OIA championship game, losing to Mililani, 37-6. The team averaged 27.6 points per game offensively and allowed 12.9 points defensively during its win streak.
The other Division I postseason championship game being played tonight pits the OIA’s third-place team, Campbell, and Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Hilo in Keaau. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
The winner of tonight’s Farrington-Baldwin game earns a semifinal date against tournament top-seed Punahou (9-0) on Nov. 15 at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium.
Farrington’s run-first offense is led by senior Sanele Lavatai, a converted linebacker who is the team’s featured running back this year with 971 rushing yards (5.9 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns. Among Lavatai’s highlights in 2013 was a 284-yard performance on 32 carries against Moanalua on Sept. 20.
However, Lavatai, a 5-foot-10, 174-pounder, has been limited to 166 yards and one touchdown on 43 carries in the Govs’ last three games as a result of a nagging hamstring injury.
Farrington’s defense is anchored by tackles Breiden Fehoko (6-3, 280) and Motu Heimuli (6-2, 266). Fehoko, a junior, is considered one of the state’s top recruits from the 2015 class. Heimuli is a senior.
Manly Williams, who has committed to the University of Hawaii, leads a talented trio at linebacker. Joining Williams are senior classmates Aaron Kesi and Titus Lave-Paleafei.
Baldwin is 6-4 overall and 6-2 in the Maui Interscholastic League.
Offensively, the Bears are led by running back Dusty Flores, who rushed for 794 yards and five touchdowns, and receiver Kawela Kaeo-Mata, who led the MIL with 42 catches for 457 yards and five touchdowns.
Defensively, the team is led by inside linebackers Teva Eldridge, a senior, and Nohea Keahi, a junior. In the MIL, Baldwin gave up an average of 286 yards and 19 points per game.