The real state champion is the Kapaa commuity

  • Courtesy of Dely Sasaki

    Matt Higa, pastor of New Hope Kauai, speaks at an earlier engagement.

Sports hold a specialized niche in society.

The emotions a spectator experiences observing a sporting event can be the culprit for tearing people apart.

Still, the flip side is sports can bring people together, especially when a team that represents an entire community is thriving.

Matt Higa, the senior pastor at New Hope Kauai, recognized that the power of the success of the Kapaa High Warriors football team and their school’s unprecedented run has brought the community closer together.

New Hope Kauai, in conjunction with Kapaa High, hosted a public viewing of the Kapaa-Lahainaluna First Hawaiian Bank Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II championship football game Friday afternoon in the school cafeteria.

The gathering was well-attended.

Around 50 spectators, decked out in Kapaa gear from head to toe, witnessed the Lunas’ superb running back Joshua Tihada run for a state-championship record of 319 yards on 25 carries, scoring all three touchdowns to carry Lahainaluna to a 21-10 victory.

Operating almost exclusively out of the wildcat formation, he showcased his prowess carrying the ball against one of Division II’s best defenses.

This column isn’t about Tihada’s prowess or the unprecedented fourth consecutive championship Lahainaluna won.

Kudos to Tihada and the Lunas for a great run.

Coming together through sport

This column is about community and Kapaa showcased fan loyalty, cheering on their championship-caliber team on every play during a consecutive season.

For the third time, New Hope Kauai showcased its generosity, allowing several Kapaa supporters who had other commitments or couldn’t spend the $39.95 charge to watch the Warriors on pay-per-view.

Higa compared paying the one-day fee for the pay-per-view as equivalent to the price of watching a Dallas Cowboys football game.

Not cheap.

“So goes the football team, so goes the community,” Higa said. “Some people can’t afford to fly to Honolulu to get to the venue, and the school is a perfect choice for a venue. It’s an honor to help the community.”

Channeling vicarious energy

Higa, whose son Daniel Higa is a three-year linebacker for the Warriors, understands the flurry of emotions La‘akea Gonsalves’s uncle Ernie Ancheta experienced watching the game. Gonsalves is the senior kicker-wide out for the Warriors.

“I was originally from Honolulu and adopted Kapaa as my home, and this community is special,” Higa said. “Our church and this school have had a good relationship for 16 years now, specifically with the football team.”

Ancheta, along with several other Warrior fans, were on edge supporting their team throughout the game.

The fans were on edge cheering on their neighbors, their friends, their family members, and watching their Warriors play on Division II’s biggest stage.

The sincere support the friends, family and neighborhood members displayed was refreshing in a day and age when negative news outweighs positive in any community in the United States.

“Watching this game with other Kapaa fans makes watching this game worthwhile, and watching the championship itself great,” Ancheta said. “I enjoyed watching Kapaa play. They shouldn’t hang their heads down, and they’ve had a successful season.”

There is an old African proverb that states, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

The primary mission statement behind the motto is pure: it’s about community and the supporters, parents, friends and family that supports these kids through thick and thin.

The members and supporters of Kapaa High should be crowned the real state champions for supporting the hard-working kids, coaches and players that represented the community of Kapaa and island of Kauai to Nth degree.

Congratulations to the community of Kapaa. Your support of these players makes you all champions in the bigger picture of life.


Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or


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