Despite loss, Warriors bring suspense back to KIF

KAPA’A – Wes Kaui claims he is to blame for the Kapa’a Warriors’ 29-6 loss to the Waimea Menehunes last Friday.

“I take full responsibility for the loss,” said the Warrior head coach. “I made decisions that were questionable in the second half – I must assume responsibility for my play calling.”

It’s true. It was Kaui who called high risk plays; his decisions may have led to Kapa’a’s four turnovers, which took its toll in the second half.

But Kaui was responsible for more than the 29-6 loss. And so were his kids, who played hard-nosed, fierce, but clean football for four straight quarters in that game. In fact, there was a lot of blame to hand out around the Warrior locker room Friday night.

For the first time in several years, a team has challenged the Waimea Menehunes. The 10-year champs, the perennial westside powerhouse, the “Big Blue Machine” seemed, for a change, beatable. For that, Kaui, his players and his coaching staff are also to blame.

They should be held responsible for amassing nearly 170 yards rushing against a program which allowed just 14 points in six games in 2001. They should be held responsible for a 99-yard drive in the first half which ended with a 31-yard TD run by Nalu Hawela and a 6-0 Kapa’a lead.

They should be blamed for their defensive stance against Menehune nucleus Jordon Dizon, who was stuffed just short of the goal line on fourth down in the first quarter.

“I [personally] can’t take responsibility for our defensive effort,” said Kaui. “That’s our defensive coordinator Vance Juarez’ doing.”

Kaui said Juarez, who had been coaching the Warrior junior varsity team for three years before moving up, has been orchestrating Kapa’a’s revamped defensive scheme. Juarez, along with the rest of his staff, have played a big part in the Warrior revival.

“Juarez is organized and well prepared. He knows his football,” said Kaui. “And the staff as a whole should be credited, as well. They play a big part in working with the boys and our gameplan.”

In hindsight, there were just two aspects of Friday’s game which played into the Menehunes’ hands – Warrior turnovers and a power-running Dizon.

Kapa’a committed four turnovers in the second half, nixing scoring opportunities stemming from successful drives. An interception led to a 32-yard TD return from defensive back Jay Parinas. Dizon’s seven-yard TD run in the fourth shortly followed a Warrior turnover.

Dizon, who was lost in a sea of Warrior linemen and linebackers in the first quarter, amassed over 200 yards rushing and ran for 3 TDs. He didn’t show up until the second quarter, and naturally, the Waimea offense came along with him. The Menehunes gained a total of 262 yards of total offense.

The Warrior secondary held the Menehune passing offense to just 40 yards. Their success is a good sign for the Warriors, who face a passing offense in the Kaua’i Red Raiders this Friday at Vidinha Stadium.

“We are not taking the Raiders lightly,” said Kaui. “They are the most improved team in the KIF. We are putting the Waimea game behind us and focusing on this week.”

Kaui said his players are healthy and will be ready for Friday’s game, including quarterback (and punter) Dustin Mundon, who wobbled to the sidelines following a roughing the kicker penalty.

“We had our best practice this season on Monday,” said Kaui. “Our fundamentals are intact and our goals are the same – minimize mistakes and increase efficiency in our blocking and tackling. As always, we need to execute well to win on Friday.”

The Warriors and Raiders will play at 7:30 p.m. at Vidinha Stadium in Lihue Friday. The jayvee game will take place at 5 p.m.

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