Farrington Victory Helps Heal Ortiz Tragedy
By Rodney S. Yap
The Farrington High School football family healed its broken hearts Friday, Nov. 8, on Maui, drawing strength and motivation from a fallen teammate.
The death of former Governors’ defensive back Dayne Ortiz helped inject new life into everything Farrington — from the players to the fans.
Beating Baldwin High School, 21-3, was the first step. It also snapped the Govs’ two-game losing streak against the Bears at War Memorial Stadium since divisions were introduced to the state tournament in 2003.
Farrington (9-3) advances into Friday’s (Nov. 15) semifinals of the 2013 First Hawaiian Bank Division I State Football Championships against top-seeded Punahou (9-0). Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium.
On the other side of the Division I bracket pits OIA champion Mililani (10-1) against OIA third-seeded Campbell (9-3). The Sabers defeated Hilo (10-2) on the Big Island, 42-27, in their first-round game.
“Before the game we talked about us not playing over emotional,” said Farrington head coach Randall Okimoto. “We were all kind of edgy this week, wanting to win the game so bad for Dayne and his family and for what happen. But we also wanted to be careful that we don’t be over emotional and get our heads out of the game. And I was proud of them for keeping their heads in the game.”
Baldwin ended its season 6-5.
“It’s not how I wanted it to end, but it happens,” said Baldwin four-year letterman and defensive captain Teva Elridge. “Our defense came out and we hung with them, but our offense couldn’t get it rolling. If our offense got rolling, I think it would have been a different game.”
As one of 28 seniors on the Baldwin roster, Elridge was sentimental afterwards, knowing he had just played his last prep football game.
“It was a bit emotional for me. I could feel the clock ticking down and I didn’t want it to. If we were winning it would have been different, but it’s nice to have my family here.”
“I thought we played well, we hung in there, our defense played tough, it was a good game for us, a good coming-out,” Baldwin first-year head coach Keneke Pacheco said. “It was emotional. It was emotional for us, it was emotional for them. I’m pleased with what I saw from my young men. We are going to use this game as a springboard for next year.
“Anytime you can get these young men playing at the state level it is a great thing. For them, it is experience. Anytime you play a team of this caliber, you get that experience under your belts, that’s huge and now they know what kind of game to expect when they get out here.”
The Governors showed complete solidarity before they stepped onto the field as players and coaches dyed their hair blond in honor of teammate Ortiz, who went missing on Nov. 2 when his kayak capsized in rough waters at Mokuleia Beach.
In addition, the team paid tribute to the former defensive back by wearing a sticker with his No. “29” in the middle of his initials “DO.”
A Farrington football fan said 60 members of the Ortiz family also flew to Maui for the game and to be with the team. Ortiz’s older brother, Darren Ortiz, and cousin Brandon Rodrigues, who lives on Maui, stood besides team captains during the pre-game coin toss. The two wore white t-shirts with Dayne’s photo on the front and number 29 on the back.
Before kickoff, the crowd share a moment of silence for Ortiz and his family. Then, after the game, Elridge led both teams in prayer and Pacheco also addressed the group.
“First and foremost, we wanted to keep our mindset on the victory, playing for Dayne Ortiz, really meant a lot to us and his presence was felt . . . it was a real emotional night as our hearts were full,” said Farrington defensive lineman Breiden Fehoko. “His presence can be felt on this field right now. The guys were so enthusiastic about playing, just forgetting about the tragedy and more keeping it a blessing.”
“To win for him meant a lot,” said Farrington quarterback Montana Liana, who passed for 196 yards and one touchdown. “I know that he is smiling and very happy to see us win and to come closer as a family and build a stronger brotherhood bond.”
Farrington running back Sanele Lavatai, who scored the game’s first touchdown on a 9-yard run and finished with a game-high 105 yards on 16 first-half carries, said: “It was great because we got the win and I know he’s looking down on us and is happy that we got it done.”