LIHUE — Before the Kauai Interscholastic Federation regular season gets underway, the Red Raiders have one more preseason contest. It’s a game that head coach Derek Borrero said is a must-win.
“This is a very important game for us,” Borrero said during Wednesday’s practice. “We got to get in the end zone. Really, I feel we got to win this game for morale purposes.
“The kids are (in high spirits). They’re enjoying football right now. They like the system. But, got to win. Got to win,” he continued.
Kauai High School’s varsity football team will be going off-island this weekend and will take on Kamehameha Schools-Hawaii of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation.
That game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at KS-Hawaii’s home field, following a junior varsity contest between the two schools.
“Because it’s our last preseason game, and then the following week we got Kapaa, we want to see if we can put together a decent passing game,” Borrero said. “That’s going to be a great challenge for us. We’ve been watching film on them. They’re a good team. They’e a spread team, and they’ll give you different looks on defense. It’s going to be a great test for us.”
Kauai (0-1) lost to Saint Francis School of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, 31-9, on Saturday at Vidinha Stadium.
In that game, Borrero admitted he may have handcuffed his team against the Saints — opting to rely heavily on running the ball. This weekend, he intends for the offense to be more balanced.
“I’ve been around this game long enough to know when you didn’t put your team in a position to win,” he said. “You cannot blame the kids. It lies on me. To heavily focus on one thing and not teaching them the entire game, that’s my fault. But we’ll get better.”
Red Raiders sophomore defensive end Iwi Rivera added lack of communicating was a factor in the team’s loss.
“It should have gone better. To be honest, all of our mindsets were kind of off,” Rivera said. “We weren’t as talking as much. The communication wasn’t there. … Now, it’s going through our brains. Now, we understand. This game coming up, we want to make it different.”
Despite the final result against Saint Francis, Borrero said a silver lining he saw was that his players never lacked fighting spirit during that contest.
“On the good side, we fought. What I was happy about is that nobody put their heads down. There was no backbiting. That is really good for a team that’s trying to get better,” the coach said.
In order to come out on the winning side this time, Borrero said being able to sustain drives on offense will be key for the Red Raiders.
“We got to be able to move the chains, and we got to be able to take advantage of passing opportunities,” he said. “We punted too much. The last game, I think we maybe six punts — one, two, three, punt. One, two, three, punt. That’s boring football, and our fans and supporters don’t deserve that. We just got to play better ball.
“Moving the chains down the field, putting together some drives, that would be something that we need to do. That’s what I’m hoping to see, and I think we’ll be able to do that,” he continued.
Rivera said to get one win before the KIF season starts would be a “game changer” for the team.
“That would open everybody’s eyes and say that we can do it this season. We can do this,” he said.
Rivera added about Saturday’s game: “We want to make it a good one. I’m feeling pretty ready. I hope the boys are ready, too. I hope the mindsets are there, and we’re ready to go — ready to battle it out.”