17 years later: Kalani finally beats Kaimuki

It’s hard to comprehend, but it’s a plain fact.

The Kalani Falcons hadn’t beaten the Kaimuki Bulldogs on the football field since 1997. Part of that is because the ‘Dogs spent quite a few years in Division I. Part of that is also because Kalani’s program had several lean years until the recent uprising.

But the streak, which was six losses in a row to Kaimuki, came to an end tonight with Kalani’s 21-20 comeback win at Kaiser Stadium. Here’s what those six scores looked like since ’97.

Kalani 20, Kaimuki 14, Roosevelt field

Kaimuki 28, Kalani 7, Kaiser Stadium

Kaimuki 48, Kalani 7, Kaiser Stadium

Kaimuki 34, Kalani 0, Kaiser Stadium

Kaimuki 53, Kalani 7, Kaiser Stadium

Kaimuki 54, Kalani 14, Kaiser Stadium

Kaimuki 28, Kalani 0, Kaiser Stadium

Kalani coach Greg Taguchi remembers. He was on the Kalani staff as an assistant back in ’97.

“Kaimuki is a solid program. They do a good job and their success moved them up to the higher division,” he said. “The last time we played them, they had Chester Sua (now at Washington State) and the guy who went to Wyoming (Siaosi Hala‘api‘api).”

Adam Treinen-Aea rushed for 126 yards in the ’97 win.

“We had a close game with them the year before, too,” added Taguchi, who knows Kaimuki well. His father, Stan, was a longtime basketball coach and athletic director at Kaimuki.

This is the reality at Kaimuki. Enrollment has been shrinking over the years, no doubt in part due to the encroaching district border line that is now practically at the backdoor of Leonard’s Bakery — which is one block from the school’s campus. Yeah. Yikes.

But the other side of it is that older communities like Kaimuki and Kalani mean less feeder programs, smaller numbers and a struggle to keep football teams competitive. Kaimuki, though, is very competitive despite low numbers. Coach Clint Onigama, an ‘Iolani graduate, keeps finding ways to keep the Bulldogs battling. Not only that, but the college prospects who graduate from Kaimuki also become NCAA Clearinghouse qualifiers.

Sua, a standout two-way player for Kaimuki, is now a junior linebacker in Pullman. Hala‘api‘api, now 6-2 and 255 pounds, is a junior defensive end in Laramie.

Now it’s Kalani’s Ace Faumui who seems to be in that Sua/Hala‘api‘api mode. Sua is around 6-2 with a lanky frame that will likely fill out during college. He’s learning his craft as he goes, a converted linebacker who had career highs with 25 carries for 180 yards against a tough Kaimuki defense.

That might not be the only winning formula for Kalani, but it sure is an obvious one. When QB Tyler Ching, another ex-LB, has to carry the weight of the offense, efficiency wanes. It matters less against younger, less formidable teams, but as the meat of the schedule lines up — Pearl City and Nanakuli are next — it will pay to be practical. Faumui will be a necessary component.

W 32-0 Waialua
>> Ching: pass 10-30-0-250, 4 TD. QBR: 147.33
>> Faumui: rush 0-0

L 6-3 Kalaheo (Kailua field)
>> Ching: pass 8-28-1-98. QBR: 50.83
>> Faumui: rush 0-0

W 54-6 Anuenue
>> Ching: pass 9-14-0-96. QBR: 121.89
>> Faumui: rush 8-108, 4 TD (50,6,2,11), 2-pt run

W 10-6 @ Roosevelt
>> Ching: pass 7-16-0-6. QBR: 46.9
>> Faumui: rush 14-151, TD; rec 2-(-10)

L 34-3 Radford
>> Ching: pass 11-28-2-150. QBR: 70
>> Faumui: rush 6-8; rec 3-49

W 21-20 Kaimuki
>> Ching: pass 9-13-0-39; rush TD. QBR: 94.43
>> Faumui: rush 25-180, TD; rec 4-8

The unlisted factor is the fly sweep game featuring Blaise Manabe, who rushed for 48 yards on six carries against Kaimuki. He played a pivotal role in that misdirection look as the Falcons moved the chains in the second half. As long as that fly sweep, which also includes wideout Kai Reed, continues to keep defenses honest, Faumui will have his gaps between the tackles, and Ching won’t feel the pressure to run — or throw the ball 30 times.

For now, though, the Falcons are rejoicing, or should be just a little. They took a big, big step toward a playoff berth, strengthening their hold on fourth place in a division that allows for just four playoff berths.

Taguchi waves off any notion that Kalani is an automatic, perennial playoff team, which is understandable. Even last year’s aerial juggernaut with Noah Brum at QB didn’t qualify for the playoffs. The OIA White, as it was known before this year, was a tough nut to crack for playoff hopefuls.

This year, though, the stars are aligning in the redbirds’ favor, it appears. It’s just a bit surreal to see it happening with a run-first offense. Just a bit.

As for not beating Kaimuki in 17 years, it’s not like the current Falcons are aware about that fact. Most of them weren’t even born the last time Kalani beat Kaimuki, and that district line was probably closer to Kaimuki Community Park (12th Ave.) than Leonard’s back then.

Of course … if we list every football prospect who grew up in the Kalani district and went to another (ILH) school, and then played in college, that list might be quite long. And at the top of it, probably a humble kid who was rooted in the Kalani Falcons Pop Warner program before a long stint on the pine at Saint Louis … before he became an All-State offensive player of the year, a state champion … and now a Heisman Trophy favorite as QB at Oregon.

What does Marcus Mariota have to do with Kalani High School football? Well, nothing. But it’s another what-if to ponder. And, for the record, it’s unlikely that another 17 years will pass before the Falcons beat the Bulldogs again, or vice-versa. Assuming both schools are still around for another 17 seasons.


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