KAHUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Kahuku Red Raiders, the state's top ranked football team, has been disqualified from competing in the Oahu Interscholastic Association playoffs and the state tournament because it played an ineligible player earlier in the season.
Sources tell Hawaii News Now the player was either too old, was competing for a fifth year, or both.
O.I.A. officials initially disqualified Kahuku from its Red Division championship game Thursday night, but school administrators appealed the decision Friday morning. That appeal was rejected.
When news of the disqualification reached the North Shore, students, faculty, and people from the community gathered for a rally to support the team.
"This just show how close we are and we're more than just a school and like a big family all together as one. And we got each other's back. We support each other no matter what happens," said Senior quarterback Evin Moe.
Football means more in Kahuku than in any other community in Hawaii. With a perfect 10-0 record the Red Raiders felt like they were headed to a state championship. Now that dream is gone.
"So tough because we worked so hard all year," said Senior safety Tigi Hill.
"Really tough because we've been in this program ever since our sophomore year and our sophomore year we made it to semis and last year we made it to state's and you know what I mean, it's been a long journey for us and this could have been our shot right here," Steven Siilata, Senior center.
Head Coach Reggie Torres said the school reported the rule violation to the league after it was brought to the school's attention by an anonymous source. He said in no way did Kahuku try to cheat.
"No. No. None whatsoever. I mean that's never been our program or our school. That's not what we try to do. We try to do everything right so we don't have to do things like this. I mean our kids don't have to suffer like this," Torres said.
"It is a rule so I'd say its fair, but I don't know. It doesn't make it easy, no," said T Tonga, Senior offensive lineman.
"It's very sad. It make us unhappy. We don't feel happy. We unhappy. I want to let people who do this choice ... we not happy for what you guys doing," Ilaisaane Kauvaka, mother of a Red Raider player.
Players told Hawaii News Now they have not been told who the ineligible player is, but who ever he is, they said they not angry with him because they are family.
"It's something we didn't expect to happen. We wanted to take the championship and the state championship. I guess some things in life just happen and you have to take it as it is," Moe added.
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