• Tough loss, but lessons learned
Tough loss, but lessons learned
By Duane Shimogawa Jr. – The Garden Island
Most of the time you learn more lessons from losses than wins. For Kaua’i head football coach Keli’i Morgado, although Friday night’s state division II quarterfinal game didn’t turn out the way he’d envisioned it, his team still learned valuable lessons from the 14-7 playoff loss to Kamehameha-Maui.
“They just played a little bit better than us. They were just a little bit bigger and better as a team,” Morgado said. After the game, the former Colorado St. track star poured his heart out in the locker room.
“I told them that I’m sorry and as your head coach I didn’t prepare you well enough to win at 14-7. I’m sorry we were on the losing end, however congrats on being three time champions. You have nothing to be ashamed of,” Morgado said.
The Red Raiders, who won their third straight KIF title this season, lost the first-ever state division II football contest on Kaua’i. “It wasn’t as tough as last year’s loss. Last year we lost that game (Campbell) by a total of five plays. I anticipated it to be very close. We didn’t play that poorly. It was a little easier to accept but it still hurts,” Morgado said. Next season starts in January and Morgado has said that his staff is one of the main reasons for the rise in success for Kaua’i football.
“We have reached the point of validation. We’ve worked hard. We have great minds on our side. We have experienced football players. They’re former UH players. We have extremely loyal and committed individuals; together as a staff I think we make an extremely well rounded staff. Our number one goal is to give back to the players.
“As coaches, our time to shine ended from when we either graduated from high school or college,” Morgado said.
According to the Punahou graduate, this season’s title run wasn’t as easy as the first two.
“This was the toughest of the three championships to win. We had to make a lot of adjustments and I think this championship speaks volumes about the cohesion of our coaching staff and team. We’re a very close knit team,” Morgado said.
The emergence of Pono Matthews was the key for the Red Raider offense, which struggled throughout the season.
“Pono stepped up and was enough of a competitor that I had to put him in that spot. I completely restructured our offense around him. We became an option team because of his skills. In my opinion, he saved this offense,” Morgado said.
But with all the pressures of high school, Morgado has been able to keep his players focused.
“In high school, individuals struggle to find their identity and it’s hard to get a team to be a family.
“This team was a family more than any other,” Morgado said. Kaua’i also has the luxury of picking up many talented athletes from the JV team, who finished 6-0 for the second straight season. The squad also allowed no points during the year.
Micah Alayvilla is the top JV prospect and will move right into one of the running back spots for the varsity team next year, along with Brendan Young.
So with the KIF football season officially over, it gives us all some time to reflect on the past season, which was probably one of the best yet. With three straight titles though, the Red Raiders are climbing up the hill to where the Menehune once stood, with their 12 consecutive championships.