WAIMEA — The Menehune boys fell to the Warriors in a gut-wrenching loss last weekend.
Though technically it is a tally in a loss column, there were moral victories the boys from Kauai’s Westside team took with them — but they’re done with just moral victories.
“We’re not satisfied. It’s still a loss. They’re very proud. We’re all proud, but we’re just not satisfied with a loss. It’s a loss. I’m not just satisfied with just the effort part. I feel we should have won,” said Waimea head coach Jason Caldeira during Thursday’s practice at the school.
“There is moral victories. But once you start looking for moral victories, you might as well just throw away your season. We’re striving. We’re looking for the actual victory,” he continued. “There will be moral victories, and those are things you’ll be proud of and you can build on. But it’s nothing you should be satisfied of. For me and the competitive nature that we’re in, I don’t want them to be satisfied. I want them to know they can win. They can. The best thing about last Saturday is that they showed a winning effort. We just got to clean up our act and get better, and believe we can pull this off.”
Waimea High School’s varsity football team (2-3, 1-2 KIF) lost to defending Kauai Interscholastic Federation champion Kapaa on Saturday, 3-0.
“We know we can do better. We’re not where we want to be right now with the season, but that’s not going to stop us from working hard,” said Menehune senior linebacker Waika Corr. “We brought it to them. We know that we did our best.”
The most glaring piece of evidence of Waimea taking steps forward — the defense.
Whereas the Menehune gave up 35 points to the Warriors earlier this season, the team this time limited the reigning champs to single-digits.
“Our staff worked really hard with their techniques and their defensive keys, along with the game planning. And the kids bought into it,” Caldeira said. “The effort that was needed to accomplish it, they (did it) on Saturday. They went all out and did what was needed to stay with it.”
Offensively, Waimea showed flashes running the ball, totaling 117 yards rushing against a vaunted Warriors defense and threatened to break Kapaa’s regular season shutout streak dating back to since Kapaa head coach Philip Rapozo took over in 2014.
The Menehune got to within five yards of finding pay dirt, but then a turnover thwarted their best chance at punching in a score.
“We could be doing better, but it’s all about the fight — and we’ve been fighting,” said Menehune junior running back Avery Miguel. “That’s all that matters. … Just fix our mental errors.”
Penalties also stunted Waimea’s efforts — getting flagged 14 times last weekend at Vidinha Stadium.
“We just got to control ourselves,” Caldeira said. “Football is a competitive sport. The nature of the game, basically, you’re in a fight. It’s a combat sport. … We got to learn how to keep our composure and don’t let someone take us out of character, especially in critical moments.”
Despite the loss, Caldeira said it was the team’s best effort so far — which was why falling short was that much more devastating.
“I saw how sad they were. They put out everything they could,” Caldeira said. “I just feel for them, you know? … I love these kids. I was so proud of them. To lose the way we did, to play their best game and yet experience disappointment, we were bummed. I really felt bad for them.”
Corr said: “Three to zero, and they scored in the last quarter, it was just really emotional. We were that close, we worked that hard for two weeks, and just came short because of mental mistakes.”
All the Menehune boys can do now is continue to take steps forward, starting with their next game Saturday against Kauai High.
Caldeira said if the team can trust the process and continue to mature, then it will continue to show substantial progress.
“Our kids right now, they want to reach a certain destination. In the process, there’s A,B and C. They like to go from A, skip B (and go) to C,” Caldeira said. “If they embrace the B part, then they’re going to be OK. Slowly, they’re getting it though. Believe me, they’ve come miles from where they were before.”