HANAPEPE — Big Blue has started its season 1-0.
Waimea High School’s varsity football team defeated Kaimuki of the Oahu Interscholastic Federation, 13-0, Friday evening at Hanapepe Stadium in the preseason opener.
“I’m pretty happy with it. I’m happy with the way they came out and they kept fighting,” said Menehune head coach Jason Caldeira. “A lot of (players) shellshocked in the beginning — a lot of first-timers. I’m very happy with the team effort. They stuck together. That’s all I can ask for.”
With less than a minute on the clock before halftime and both teams scoreless, Menehune sophomore quarterback Keaka Wisneski threw deep to junior running back Cody Taniguchi for a 39-yard touchdown. Waimea junior Justin Fune converted the point attempt for the 7-0 lead.
Taniguchi found the endzone again with a 5-yard run at 3:43 in the fourth quarter to give Waimea a 13-0 lead. The scoring drive was set up by a 37-yard run by Taniguchi. The ensuing point attempt was blocked.
Taniguchi finished with 59 yards rushing off 10 carries and the 39-yard reception.
“When we built that brotherhood over the summer, we all got each other’s backs,” Taniguchi said. “They blocked for me. That’s what made me score touchdowns. It wasn’t because of my nice runs. It was all the (offensive line) that was opening the holes up.”
As for winning the season opening game, Taniguchi said, “We did good. We were working together. We got that victory that we wanted.”
“It felt good,” he added. “We kept it all the way. The defense was solid. They didn’t score against us.”
Caldeira said being able to record a shutout on defense held special meaning.
“I named our defense after my cousin, Kimo, who passed away this past December. He was like an older brother to me. We call it the ‘Kimo Defense,’” Caldeira said. “I hope he’s very proud watching. I’m very proud we got the zero in our first game.”
The Menehune worked through a shaky opening period in which the offense was penalized three times for an illegal shift.
“That’s something we got to work on better in practice. A lot of it had to do with our quarterback just rushing,” Caldeira said. “We tried to calm down, but the jitters were there. We got to get a lot better with that.”
Kaimuki couldn’t establish any effectiveness on offense, giving up three sacks and at times were driven backwards. Bulldogs head coach David Tautofi said he didn’t have his full squad as many of his usual starters weren’t available because of ineligibility.
“This was the result, on both sides of the ball, their side and our side, just how a team hurts with ineligibility,” Tautofi said. “But it’s a good lesson for the young ones. Most of our guys were young. Our seniors are at home. But in the long run, painful games like this end up being a good source of wisdom for us.”
“On offense, we probably only had three starters on offense,” Tautofi added. “That’s not an excuse. I’m actually glad. I’m glad we were able to do this, come out here, play and see where we’re at.”
In an attempt to spark his offense, Tautofi replaced junior starting quarterback Daniel Nguyen with sophomore Kyle Viyavong at the beginning of the third quarter.
“Kyle is a JV quarterback, and Danny is more of a backup quarterback. There’s a lot of things that played into it. There’s no excuse,” Tautofi said. “They both bring a lot to the table in their own perspective game. Kyle is more of a natural quarterback. The only thing is that he’s younger. We just kind of needed some new energy, some new life. This is only going to make them both better.”
Bulldogs junior Billy Masima rushed for 61 yards on six carries for Kaimuki, all in the first half.
Kaimuki next plays Anuenue in OIA D2 play on Aug. 22 at Kaiser High School.
“I think every loss, even in life, every loss is a blessing. It really depends on the outcome of how you take it. In a loss, you can find victory in it. So, this is good for us,” Tautofi said.
Waimea will play its next preseason game on the road Saturday against Waiakea of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation.
“If we just play like (we did) tonight and we work together, we’re going to have a good season this year,” Taniguchi said.