Raiders win championship, prepare for "Best of the West Tournament"

29 Nov 2006 | Lance Cpl. R. Drew Hendricks

The Camp Smith Raiders, intramural football regular season champions, beat the CSSG-3 Outlaws 12-7 in the intramural league championship at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, Nov. 29.Not only did the Raiders claim the title of champions, but also ensured their spot in the “Best of the West” football tournament held in San Diego. The game was a hard fought battle between these teams. Both teams had been a challenge for each other all season, with the Raiders only loss going to the Outlaws.While the Raiders would go on to win the game, they started off poorly, an aspect the Outlaws took full advantage of. The Outlaws spent the entire first quarter in the Raiders red zone and toed the goal line all the way into the second quarter. With nine minutes left in the second quarter, Duane Brown, Outlaws running back, struck first for his team.With the score 7-0 and nine minutes left in the half, the Raiders made a momentum change when Brenden Villa'Hashimoto, who plays multiple positions for the Raiders, ran a 60-yard kickoff return to the Outlaws’ 30-yard line.With a boost of confidence from Villa’Hashimoto, the Raiders’ offense took to the field. Rodney “Big-Mac” MacCullough, Raiders’ running back, pounded in several runs to put his team into the Outlaws red zone for the first time that night. After several first downs, the Raiders were so close to the goal the ball carrier could have tripped into the end zone, but a determined Outlaws defense kept any hopefuls out. That is, until Kal Lopes, Raiders’ quarterback, led by his center, Gabriel Coronado, snuck right up the middle into the end zone for the first Raiders’ touchdown. A botched extra point left the Raiders down by one, but even more determined to pull ahead. With the score 7-6, the Outlaws took over possession. The Raiders were able to hold the Outlaws until the end of the half, but their defense would find no light at the end of the tunnel, as the Outlaws were to receive the ball at the start of the second half. During half time, the Raiders used the break to discuss some of their mistakes. “We gave them that touchdown,” said Lopes. “We dictate this game and we allowed them that touchdown. So let’s do what we’ve always done and not let it happen again.”Defensive coach Noel Demello also had a few words of advice for his defense. “We need to tighten up on the outside and force them to go up the middle,” he said. “We know they can’t go up our middle.”With Demello’s encouragement and guidance ringing in their ears, the Raiders’ defense came back on top and kept the Outlaws down. With the ball back in their possession, the Raiders wasted no time charging towards the goal line. The Raiders got first down after first down through the hard pounding runs of “Big-Mac,” until the Outlaws’ defensive line had enough and put an end to his rushing. While the Outlaws may have stopped the Raiders’ running game, they couldn’t stop a pass to Avery Chester, Raiders’ running back, who caught the ball between three defenders right in the end zone. The Raiders decided to go for the two point conversion, but came up short and the score remained 12-7.The Raiders defense intended to maintain their teams’ lead and fought hard against the Outlaws’ offensive line and quick back field.Back and forth the teams rocketed close to their respected end zones, but both were unable to get by the other’s defense.Well into the fourth quarter, the Outlaws took a large loss, when Tiki Smith, Outlaws’ quarterback, went down after a vicious hit from the Raiders. With their starting quarterback gone and still trailing by 5, the Outlaws pushed their offense to the limit.Unfortunately for them, they were never able to recover, as the Raiders defense showed no mercy.With fourth down and inches, and a minute left in the game, the Outlaws were poised on their last play of the season. But there would be no come-from-behind victory for them, as Villa’Hashimoto crushed their hopes, breaking up a pass and securing possession for the Raiders.Only 52 seconds left in the game, the Raiders decided to take no chances and ran out the clock. The game and the league championship ended with the score 12-7 in favor of the Raiders. The Raiders are now set to prepare for the “Best of the West” tournament, which will be held sometime in Jan. This competition will pit them against the best teams from around the Marine Corps. While the Raiders have been playing 8-man football, the tournament is 11-man. This will require them to work that much harder to prepare their strategy accordingly. “We can do it the same way we took this championship,” said head coach Carson Peapealalo. “Hard work and discipline got us this far and I expect it to carry us the rest of the way.”Since the Raiders also have to boost themselves to a 45-man squad, they will be taking along some of the best players from their opposing teams here on the island. “It will be an all-star team of sorts,” said Demello.
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