Sabers Second-Half Surge Powers Campbell by Waipahu in Battle for Caneknife 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED AUG 14, 2023

WAIPAHU — Campbell junior quarterback Jaron-Keawe Sagapolutele racked up 431 yards through the air to go along with five touchdown passes as the Sabers beat the Waipahu Marauders, 62-34, on the opening weekend of high school football in Hawai’i. 

The Sabers racked up 749 yards of total offense on the night, more than half of which came after halftime for the visitors from the OIA’s Open Division. On a highly anticipated night by fans of both teams, Waipahu and Campbell fought to an even score, 21-21, through one half of play before Sagapolutele and Co. went to another level coming out of the break.

The matchup was supposed to put eight of the top ranked recruits in the state of Hawai’i for the classes of 2024 and 2025 against each other, but neither of Nebraska commit and Waipahu’s star offensive lineman Preston Taumua and University of Hawai’i commit and Campbell stud edge rusher Nazaiah Carvallo-Lawelawe suited up for the opening night matchup. 

There was no lack of talent on display, though.

Campbell received the opening kickoff, drove the field quickly and went to 3-star ATH Tana Togafau-Tavui in the red zone to punch in the opening score and give the visitors a 7-0 lead. 

The hometown Marauders, quarterbacked by a sophomore in Ben Strobel, answered back quickly with a 20-yard touchdown strike to wideout Jayden Chanel to tie the game at seven apiece.

It looked like the Sabers would answer right back with a score of their own after a long kickoff return set Campbell up with good field position, but a faulty snap that was mishandled by Sagapolutele ended up as a turnover recovered by Waipahu.

The Marauders took a 13-7 lead on the ensuing possession, Strobel finding Tai Aipia-Barrett on a 27-yard touchdown but couldn’t chip on the point after. 

Togafau-Tavui racked up his second touchdown of the day, this one a 20-yard catch to help put the Sabers ahead 14-13 to beat the end of the first quarter clock. 

It took the hometown Marauders less than three minutes to answer back, as senior running back Anieli Teleaai punched his first touchdown of the year in and Waipahu got the two-point conversion to go up, 21-14.

Sagapolutele tossed his second touchdown of the half with just under six minutes remaining in the second quarter, connecting with sophomore Tainoa Lave for a six-yard score and send it to halftime tied at 21. 

Aipia-Barrett caught his second TD pass of the night to open the second half and give Waipahu the lead just a minute and a half into the third, but Campbell would answer back with 35 straight points to open a 62-27 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

A pick-six by Waipahu senior Zion Faleiva capped the scoring on the night, an effort too little too late for the Marauders, as the ‘Caneknife Trophy’ will stay in ‘Ewa Beach for another season. 

Strobel threw for 360 yards and three touchdowns, also getting tagged for two interceptions, in his first start of the year for Waipahu before leaving the game with an injury. One of the newest Marauders weapons, former Moanalua standout Eric Stephens, led the home squad with eight catches for 146 yards. Waipahu’s game against Maui for next weekend has been postponed due to the ongoing fire recovery efforts in Maui. You can donate, here.

Sagapolutele finished the night with 431 yards passing and five touchdowns, accounting for more than half of the total touchdowns scored by the Sabers on Friday night. Togafau-Tavui had seven catches for 99 yards and two total touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) for Campbell. The Sabers will take on Aiea next week, who fell 49-0 to Kapaa in their opening weekend matchup. 

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