HANAPEPE — Big Blue got its first win of the season against a team from the Mainland.
Waimea High School’s varsity football team defeated Classical Academy of Escondido, Calif., in a preseason game Friday night, 35-14.
“I’m glad with our performance. I’m glad that we came out and kept the mental mistakes down and executed our plays well,” said Waimea head coach Jason Caldeira. “The little mental errors, we really minimized that. Lots more to go, though, for the regular season.
“It’s always good to win. It boosts the morale. It definitely helps coming into the season, but we’re still far away from where we want to be. We got a lot of work going here, and it starts with me and will trickle down to everybody else. But with a night like this, it helps practice the next day and it helps things get going.”
Waimea (1-1) totaled 245 rushing yards.
Menehune junior running back Makoa Vanaman was the team’s workhorse, totaling 129 yards rushing on 25 carries and had one rushing touchdown. Menehune junior rusher Kawelo Huddy had 40 yards running on nine carries and had a touchdown.
All five of Waimea’s touchdowns came from running plays — all were scored by five different rushers.
Waimea iced its win with an eight-yard run by junior fullback Elie Mose late in the fourth quarter to give the team a 35-14 lead.
“That’s how we play. That’s what we do,” Caldeira said. “I’m very happy with the O-line. We had an injury in our O-line. Our starting tackle was out. Our next guy up, Dylan Chong-Silva, he stepped up. He did a great job. We got the job done. Without them, there is no five touchdowns.”
After falling short on the Big Island to Honokaa High School in Waimea’s preseason debut, Caldeira said the team rose to the occasion against the California team.
“They were pretty down after the loss. We felt like we beat ourselves,” he said. “We challenged them to see their character, to see what they have inside. You get knocked down. How do you get back up? It’s all about how you come back in life. The good thing about football, it teaches us a lot of that.”
The Menehune will kickoff the Kauai Interscholastic Federation season next weekend.
Waimea will play Kauai High School (2-0) on Friday at Vidinha Stadium. The junior varsity game will begin 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
Classical Academy got on the board in the second quarter.
Immediately after Huddy scored on a 15-yard run to give Waimea a 14-0 lead, Caimans returner Diego Preciado returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards to cut into Waimea’s deficit.
The Caimans got its second touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard reception by receiver Thomas Gehman from quarterback James Duncan.
“It was a physical football game. Waimea has a physical team. They outplayed us tonight,” said Classical Academy head coach John Goodman.
“Defensively, (their offense) had long drives. We couldn’t get off the field. So offensively, you don’t have a chance to get rolling if you don’t have the ball,” he added. “They did a good job of controlling the clock and driving the ball down the field. Some mistakes on some critical plays for us. … Those mistakes, they add up. They cost you games.”
Caimans rusher Damian Castaneda led the team with 106 yards on 12 carries.
“I think every game, there’s always things you can take away and you can learn from,” Goodman said. “That’s life. Life’s about a struggle, and it builds perseverance. Then, perseverance builds character. … Whether you win or lose, there’s always a struggle or adversity that you’re a part of. To see the young men rise and learn from it, that’s what we’re going to see as we move forward.”
03:09 WAIMEA Cory Soares 8-yard run, Kawelo Huddy PAT good, 7-0 Waimea
04:33 WAIMEA Kawelo Huddy 15-yard run, Kawelo Huddy PAT good, 14-0 Waimea
04:21 CLASSICAL Diego Preciado 83-yard kickoff return, Diego Preciado PAT good, 14-7 Waimea
00:39 WAIMEA Isahn Ulanday 1-yard run, Kawelo Huddy PAT good, 21-7 Waimea
03:36 WAIMEA Makoa Vanaman 23-yard run, Kawelo Huddy PAT good, 28-7 Waimea
07:07 CLASSICAL Thomas Gehman 14-yard reception from James Duncan, Diego Preciado PAT good, 28-14 Waimea
02:37 WAIMEA Elie Mose 8-yard run, Kawelo Huddy PAT good, 35-14 Waimea
Passing: Lacin Montemayor, 4-7, 64 yards
Rushing: Makoa Vanaman, 25 carries, 129 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 fumbles
Receiving: Isahn Ulanday, 3 receptions, 55 yards
Defense: Elie Mose, 4 tackles, 1 sack
Passing: James Duncan, 5-16, 76 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
Rushing: Damian Castaneda, 12 carries, 106 yards
Receiving: Thomas Gehman, 4 receptions, 49 yards, 1 touchdown
Defense: Nasser Jones II, 8 tackles
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or email@example.com.