LIHUE — The Menehune boys held off the Red Raiders in the red zone to come out victorious.
Waimea High School’s varsity football team (3-3, 2-2 KIF) edged Kauai High, 20-16, Saturday afternoon at Vidinha Stadium.
“The boys dug deep, and they played with heart and desire,” said Waimea head coach Jason Caldeira. “I’m very proud of them. They did it.”
In the closing minutes, Kauai (0-6, 0-4 KIF) drove down to the Waimea 8-yard line. A couple of plays later, Kauai faced a 4th down and goal from the 11-yard line.
Red Raiders junior quarterback Christian Manera took a shot to the end zone, and Menehune linebacker Kailen Simao-Castillo batted down the pass to deny the Red Raiders a go-ahead score.
“That’s on me. It’s just not preparing them enough for that situation,” said Kauai head coach Derek Borrero. “All of that is on me right now, but the boys battled. There’s going to be good stuff and mistakes out there — it went back and forth. But that’s a good team across that field. Unfortunately, they had the last punch.”
A couple of kneel downs spent the remaining time on the clock to give the Menehune a win on Kauai High’s homecoming.
“Too many thoughts. A million things were going through my head at that moment,” Caldeira said of when Kauai High was driving late in the fourth quarter. “Some positive and some negative. But you just got to keep your cool and just focus on the boys and their assignments, and making sure of what they were going through right now — how big this is, the time of the game, the heat of the moment, and making sure they focused and zeroed in on the task.”
Kauai’s potential game-winning drive was set up by a desperation throw by Manera. On 3rd down and 19, Manera let one fly to about midfield and senior receiver Jasper Jacinto made the catch.
Jacinto then ran upfield and was forced out of bounds at the Waimea 21-yard line for a gain of 68 yards.
“The talk in the locker room, and what we preach every single day, is focus on the process,” Borrero said. “If you focus on the wins and losses, you’ll go through extreme highs and extreme lows. I’ve been on both sides. We’ll just continue to focus on the process and try to get better.”
Red Raiders senior running back Franklin Passi scored both of Kauai’s touchdowns — both off 1-yard runs.
“It just felt amazing,” Passi said of his touchdown runs. “I was just trying to thank them (the offensive line) for blocking and playing hard today.”
Passi totaled 12 yards rushing off eight carries. Passi, also a defensive end, was also one of Kauai’s defensive leaders with seven tackles.
In the third quarter following Passi’s first score, Waimea answered back immediately.
In the first play of the ensuing possession, Menehune senior running back Cody Taniguchi dashed for an 80-yard romp to pay dirt to extend Waimea’s lead.
Taniguchi ran for 126 yards off 13 carries.
“The line, it took kind of long to develop. But once it developed, it opened wide and I just ran into the endzone,” Taniguchi said of that 80-yard score.
Kauai High’s senior class was recognized following the game.
“It means a lot,” Franklin said, who is a three-year varsity player for the Red Raiders. “I love this community, this school, and the coaches for all their support. And I love the game.”
Kauai will next play Kapaa (6-0, 4-0 KIF) on Saturday at Vidinha Stadium. The junior varsity game will begin at noon and the varsity will follow.
Waimea will play Kapaa on Oct. 15.
09:34 WAIMEA Reymund Mendoza 35-yard run, Cody Taniguchi PAT good, 7-0 Waimea
03:23 KAUAI Kamuela Numazawa 25-yard field goal, 7-3 Waimea
00:47 WAIMEA Avery Miguel 2-yard run, Cody Taniguchi PAT no good (Franklin Passi block), 13-3 Waimea
08:14 KAUAI Franklin Passi 1-yard run, Kamuela Numazawa PAT good, 13-10 Waimea
08:00 Waimea Cody Taniguchi 80-yard run, Cody Taniguchi PAT good, 20-10 Waimea
11:44 KAUAI Franklin Passi 1-yard run, Kamuela Numazawa PAT no good, 20-16 Waimea
Passing: Ardino Ned, 1-5, 1 yard, 1 interception
Rushing: Cody Taniguchi, 13 carries, 126 yards, 1 touchdown
Receiving: Waika Corr, 1 reception, 1 yard
Defense: Reymund Mendoza, 5 tackles
Passing: Christian Manera, 12-31, 209 yards, 1 interception
Rushing: Christian Manera, 11 carries, 80 yards, 1 fumble
Receiving: Jasper Jacinto, 3 receptions, 101 yards
Defense: Joshua Rivera, 7 tackles, 1 sack