Posted: September 29, 2012 - 10:37pm
Liua Jr. runs for two touchdowns in Red Raiders' win
HALAWA - Polikapu Liua Jr. left Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium a hero, but he may be in the dog house when he gets home.
In a game that had no shortage of standout running backs, it was the Kahuku junior fullback that stood out amongst the rest, in the Red Raiders' 31-6 win over Farrington Saturday night. The win improved top-ranked Kahuku to 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the Oahu Interscholastic Association's Red East Conference. Third-ranked Farrington suffered its first loss to fall to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in league play.
Liua Jr. rushed nine times for a game-high 92 yards - averaging 10.2 yards per carry - and scored on touchdown runs of 11 and 33 yards, much to the delight of the Red Raiders' crowd. That is, except for maybe one person very close to him: his father, Polikapu Liua Sr., a 1982 Farrington graduate.
"He played really good, unfortunately he's playing for a different team," said Liua Sr., clad in his Govs' maroon and white amid a sea of Kahuku red. "It's all right though, (Kahuku) is his team, so I'm really proud of him."
Red Raiders' star running back Aofaga Wily was held to 61 rushing yards on 19 carries and Farrington's running-back duo of Tyler Taumua and Amo Silva combined for just 19 attempts for 62 yards and no touchdowns.
Wily said the decision to give Liua Jr. the ball more often was a result of the Governors' defensive alignments.
"Usually we like to open up the running with the fullback and the running back and just key on the defense - whoever they hit more - then we open it up for the next running back," Wily said.
Liua Jr.'s success came as no surprise to Kahuku coach Reggie Torres.
"PJ has been doing well for us lately. In fact, there were a few times this year that he had some breakout games and did very well. He's been doing that for us all season," Torres said. "You know, Aofaga is the man and we try to get Aofaga the ball, but (PJ) poses a different threat. He's a good blocking back, a fullback on the option, he's a guy with hands, so we try to use him in more different ways like the screen we threw to him."
Liua Jr. carried three times for 47 yards on Kahuku's first scoring drive, which was capped by his 11-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. Liua Jr. took the handoff from quarterback Lasi Livai, barreled through a hole behind 6-foot-2, 432-pound right guard Henry Tonga and broke a tackle at the 3-yard line before falling into the end zone.
"I guess my coach kind of adjusted to (Farrington's) game plan," said Liua Jr., who had 60 rushing yards by halftime. "At the beginning, they were keying on Aofaga and our coaches just decided to keep running the ball, but give it to me more, I guess."
In the fourth quarter, Liua Jr. highlighted an 8-play, 58-yard Kahuku drive with his second rushing score - a 33-yarder. Two plays earlier - on a third-and-long - Liua Jr. hauled in a 15-yard reception from Livai to extend the drive. He recorded two catches for 35 yards.
"He's an all-around athlete," Wily said. "He takes advantage of his stockiness and his quickness. He's a heck of a blocker, even though he may not be the tallest or the biggest, but he can run with all his heart."
Liua Jr. was quick to credit his teammates for his success against the Govs.
"I just have to thank my offensive line for blocking for me and opening up the holes for me to run through, they were a big help," Liua Jr. said.
Liua Jr. said the last words he received from his dad before the game was to "have fun, but don't score any touchdowns ... I guess I'll have to tell him sorry."
Although, it may not matter what he has to say to his dad, after all.
Said a smiling Liua Sr., "He's grounded."