Hilo won the HHSAA Division I state title in the most dramatic of ways on Friday night, as Keanu Keolanui’s 55-yard field goal attempt bounced off the front crossbar and through the uprights as time expired in a 20-17 win over ‘Iolani.
The win caps off a perfect season for the Vikings, who finish at 14-0 and take their second football state title in school history.
“I gotta admit, I was nervous. With the wind, too, I didn’t know whether I was going to make it or not,” Keolanui said. “But I just kicked through it and it just went in. I didn’t know if it was going to bounce back or bounce in, but when it bounced in it was such a good feeling.”
Hilo won its first state tournament in 2017 and fell in last year’s state championship game against Waipahu. On Friday night against ‘Iolani, the Vikings fell behind 10-0 after one quarter and 17-3 at halftime.
Hilo coach Kaeo Drummundo trusted his team through the adversity and knew they would bounce back.
“There’s so much hard work over the years that a lot of people don’t see. That goes into what we try to do with the kids, not just on the field but on the field as well,” he said. “To see them have so much success, it makes my heart feel good.”
Keolanui’s field goal ties the record for the longest made field goal in an HHSAA tournament game, as Kapaa’s Chysen Lagunes-Rapozo did it from the same distance in the 2018 HHSAA Division II final.
Drummundo said there was no hesitation in sending Keolauni out for the kick.
“We work field goal/extra point two to three days a week. We know he has a leg,” Drummunso said of Keolauni. “In that situation we just tell him ‘hey there’s no pressure. Bang it as far as you can.’ He does it in practice. Was I a little bit surprised? I think it was 55 for the game with no time left? Maybe a little bit, but we put him out there with confidence.”