HANAPEPE — Kauai High School scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to erase a 14-3 deficit and win 16-14 over the Waimea Menehune Saturday afternoon at Hanapepe Stadium.
The win spoiled the Menehune homecoming festivities that was heralded by a perfect rainbow over the Kalaheo plateau as showers threatened the game, but held off.
“This was a program win,” said Kauai High School coach Derek Borrero. “These last two wins are program wins. We send off our seniors on a winning note, but I hope these players realize their patience and their sacrifice are the building blocks of a strong foundation for our future program.”
Kauai and Waimea jockeyed defensively through the first half of play as fans reveled in the homecoming spirit and the 28-12 Kauai win in the junior varsity game.
The Raiders cracked the scoreboard with about a minute showing when Kaya Ramirez split the uprights on a field goal from the Menehune 4-yard line to give Kauai a 3-0 bulge at the break.
“Kaya believed in herself,” said her mom, Michelle Alimboyoguen, following the game. “But you, as a team, you believed in her as well, and allowed her to come as far as she has.”
Waimea came back to capitalize on a Raider turnover in the third quarter when Noah Bermudez plucked a Christian Manera aerial that was coupled with a Menehune infraction. The Menehune took control at midfield, and capped the drive on a 24-yard touchdown when Cody Taniguchi pulled in an Ardino Ned pass. Taniguchi’s point-after kick put Waimea in control, 7-3 at the 7:04 mark.
Waimea scored its second touchdown with nearly three minutes remaining in the quarter when Ned found Justin Fune on a 2-yard score, Taniguchi doing the PAT honors for the 14-3 lead at the end of three quarters.
Kauai opened the final period when Manera found Jasper Jacinto in the end zone at the end of a 10-yard aerial. The Raiders tried for the two-point conversion, but Manera was shut out of the end zone with just six ticks peeled off the clock.
Waimea answered when Avery Miguel pulled in the tail end of a flea flicker on the Kauai 25-yard line. But the Raider defense held fast and a field goal attempt by Taniguchi, his second of the game, was partially blocked by Keanu Camalliri.
Kauai answered back when on a third-and-18 situation, Manera went deep to Anthony Akau who pulled in the pass on the Menehune 20-yard line to set up the final score. Manera connected with Jaykob Naka‘ahiki-Young on the far side for a 13-yard score. Kamuela Numazawa did the point-after honors with 3:20 remaining in the game.
That gave Waimea a final push that came up empty.
“Sore,” said Waimea coach Jason Caldeira. “We played hard. I’m very proud of these boys. But it’s those mental errors in the final period that hurt. Do you realize we’ve only lost one game all season — the first one against Kapaa? All the others, we were close — real close. That’s my job in the off-season — find an answer to teach these players better. To not make these mistakes.”
Caldeira said he was privileged to watch these young people grow.
“I wish the best for each of them,” he said. “I hope they got something out of what we tried to teach them. We’ll always be there for them as coaches.”