Kaimuki rides epic return to championship showdown against Radfo - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kaimuki rides epic return to championship showdown against Radford

Kaimuki, Radford to face off Friday in the OIA D2 Championship. Kaimuki, Radford to face off Friday in the OIA D2 Championship.
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

For wide receiver and kickoff returner Andrew Neves and the Kaimuki Bulldogs, the road to the OIA Division 2 Championship game didn't just require a win against the defending champion Nanakuli Golden Hawks... It involved the most exciting play of the Hawaii high school football season. 

After a Nanakuli touchdown and two-point conversion put the Golden Hawks ahead 22-21 with just 13 seconds to play in the game, Neves knew his team didn't have much time. Turns out... The 13 seconds left on the clock were all he needed.

Neves returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown, a trek that elapsed all 13 remaining seconds in the fourth quarter and gave Kaimuki a 27-22 win, the high school football equivalent of a walk-off home run.

"Having to run that ball back and having your team pretty much pile on you until you cannot breathe... It's just unexplainable," Neves, a senior, said after the game.

The return gave Kaimuki an upset win over the Golden Hawks, but left them with little time to celebrate before beginning preparations for their next test: the Radford Rams, in the OIA Championship game.

"The reality is, they've got the best offense, and the best defense, in the league," Kaimuki head coach David Tautofi said. "But I don't think the pressure is on us."

The Rams put the pressure on the Bulldogs during this year's meeting during the regular season, a 48-0 shutout win for Radford. The Rams held Kaimuki to -64 rushing yards in that contest, but Radford coach Fred Salanoa says he expects Neves' kick return against Nanakuli to have given the Bulldogs a swagger they may have lacked in that first meeting.

"I think the number one word that comes to mind is confidence," Salanoa told Hawaii News Now this week. "They're playing with confidence, they're playing at a high level right now."

A win for the Rams would be Salanoa's third championship in the last ten years. For Kaimuki, a title would be their first in five. Players from both teams say they know exactly what's at stake on Friday night. 

"First of all, we're gonna be excited," said Radford senior defensive lineman Dillon Sunday. "Big game, in the stadium, championship game... But the main thing we're gonna be focusing on is just being prepared and being focused."

"We're still going hard. Even harder. Conditioning is to the max," Kaimuki's Neves said, as the sound of an airhorn interrupted the interview. "As you can hear."

Blood, sweat, tears and conditioning... All for the chance at an OIA Championship trophy. Kickoff is set for Friday at 5 p.m., at Aloha Stadium.

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly