With two first-time starters leading the offense, Waipahu’s defense gave the youngsters a chance to settle into the Marauders’ season opener on Friday night.
Academic probation left Waipahu without its regular starters in the backfield, and sophomore quarterback Gavin Marques and running back Matthew Leilua combined for 227 rushing yards, with Marques adding two touchdown passes in his varsity debut in the Marauders’ 19-14 win Friday night.
Five lost fumbles, three in the first half, hampered Waipahu’s offense. But the defense limited the damage in holding Kaimuki to 86 yards in the Bulldogs’ first eight possessions.
“Our kids played gritty, a lot of kids went both ways,” Waipahu head coach Eric Keola said.
The Marauders recovered two fumbles (the first coming inside their 10 in the first quarter), forced Kaimuki into four three and outs and stopped the Bulldogs with a fourth-down sack early in the fourth quarter.
“(Kaimuki) showed well against Waialua last week; we had to step up on defense,” Keola said, referring to the Bulldogs’ 28-7 win last week.
The Waipahu defense was on the sideline with the Marauders leading 19-0 when Kaimuki scored its first touchdown, a 60-yard fumble return by defensive lineman Jorge Rios.
Kaimuki junior Tevita Lino completed three of his first 11 attempts for 15 yards, then went 9-for-12 for 121 yards and threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to close the gap. But the Bulldogs didn’t get the ball back.