OK, that’s a bit extreme, but in the world of Division II football in Hawaii, Nanakuli’s amazing 28-21 comeback win tonight over Kaiser — at the Cougars’ field — is the upset of the year.
Kaiser led Nanakuli 21-0 and, frankly, it really didn’t feel like the Golden Hawks were up to the challenge. But they had the will to stay in the game, and they let their great athletes make plays. Dezmond Kaaihue blocked a punt and recovered in the end zone for their first score. Chazz Troutman tossed a touchdown pass to 6-foot-4 Lansen Liki and the winning touchdown to 6-4 Joseph Shelton with 27 seconds left. It was breathtaking. Nanakuli’s momentum, as Kaiser coach Rich Miano said later, was difficult to stop once it got rolling.
Kaiser was not the same after Kai Gonda had to sit out with major back spasms in the second half. They were already weakened by the loss of a DT (injury) who was also their lead blocker in the Power I set. Gonda and quarterback Makana Lyman were sick all week.
Coach Miano gave all the praise to Nanakuli, refused to accept illnesses and injuries as an excuse. It’s a sad night for a team that is arguably the hardest-working in the league, maybe the state. But it’s a glorious night for a Nanakuli program that has struggled for so long. Skip Lopes has always been one of the most resilient coaches in high school football.
His patience has been rewarded, and the Golden Hawks are now in the state tourney. Story in Sunday’s paper.
Nanakuli vs. Kaiser photo gallery
All photos by FL Morris / firstname.lastname@example.org
Click thumbnails to view larger images.
Added Thursday, Oct. 25: Here’s the boxscore that didn’t make it to print.
Nanakuli (6-3 OIA White, 6-3) 0 0 14 14 — 28
Kaiser (7-2 OIA White, 7-3) 7 7 7 0 — 21
Kai—Kai Gonda 10 pass from Makana Lyman (Christian Clapp kick)
Kai—Ikona Makaneole 14 pass Lyman (Clapp kick)
Kai—Fitou Fisiiahi 1 run (Clapp kick)
Nan—Dezmond Kaaihue recovered block punt (Joseph Shelton kick)
Nan—Lansen Liki 13 pass from Chazz Troutman (Shelton kick)
Nan—Troutman 1 run (kick failed)
Nan—Shelton 7 pass from Troutman (Troutman run)
Junior varsity—Pearl City 14, Kaiser 9.
RUSHING—Nanakuli: Brandon Felisi 7-22, Khade Paris 5-17, Chazz Troutman 12-49, Eric Au Hoon-Kaawa 1-0, Nyenoa Ulangca-Kauwelo 5-14. Kaiser: Gonda 12-60, Fitou Fisiiahi 3-5, Justin Isobe 3-5, Jeshua Bitanga 6-18, Lyman 3-(-19), Vidijay Kannys 1-3.
PASSING—Nanakuli: Troutman 10-19-0-80, Ulangca-Kauwelo 0-1-0-0. Kaiser: Makana Lyman 22-37-1-201.
RECEIVING—Nanakuli: Paris 1-1, Charles Garcia 1-0, Lansen Liki 4-59, Au Hoon-Kaawa 1-7, Felisi 1-5, Joseph Shelton 2-18, Nathan Kipi 1-(-3). Kaiser: Destin Moss 6-69, Justin Ikei 4-27, Gonda 1-10, Elima Haole 3-33, Christian Clapp 1-5, Ikona Makaneole 2-27, Fisiiahi 2-15, Bitanga 1-13, Kannys 2-2.