Hello, America. The first prep football kickoff of 2018. pic.twitter.com/g28gYIBxrS
— Billy Hull (@billyhull) August 4, 2018
But for the home team in particular, the night wasn’t quite as much about the score as it was just having the Hawaii Kai community back packing the stadium for football.
The Cougars played their first home game since Sept. 30, 2016 against Kahuku after forfeiting all but one of their games last season due to a variety of issues that basically wiped out an entire season of football in Hawaii Kai.
The game ended in the first tie for Kaiser since 2006, but the support before, during, and after the game felt like a resounding win.
“We appreciate them coming out and giving us their support and we hope they come back,” said Kaiser coach Tim Seaman, who has been involved with the program for decades and was the Kaiser head coach in 1993 and ’94. “We hope (for) all our home games the atmosphere (is) as positive as it was tonight. I think it was good for the school and again we continue to progress and move forward.”
Senior quarterback Koa Tom rushed for two touchdowns and sophomore Mason Yoshino caught four passes for 98 yards in his first game with the varsity.
“It was a very exciting night,” Yoshino said. “On the first kick return I was looking into the stands and listening to the band and it just got me excited.”
Tom was one of three quarterbacks — one for Kaiser and two for Aiea — knocked out of the game with an injury that left both head coaches concerned.
Junior Kayson Castillo started at quarterback for Na Alii and threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns, but had to leave the game on key fourth-down play late in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Jordan Cezar replaced Castillo and converted a key fourth-down, but was knocked out of the game on a fourth-down run a minute later.
Fabian Bautista, a receiver and defensive back, finished the game at quarterback for Na Alii, who called up the entire junior varsity team for this game in order to field a team.
“It was tough getting our two quarterbacks hurt and hopefully we can get them back soon,” Aiea coach Wendell Say said. “We have a bunch of kids that we think can do some things that didn’t play and we’ll get them back next week. I thought the kids we brought up did a heckuva job.”
Kaiser, using a mix of run-pass option with Tom using his legs to scramble for yards, led 12-0 after the first quarter on TD runs of 5 and 10 yards by Tom.
Castillo threw both of his touchdown passes in the second quarter. One went to Zach Kalahiki-Basque, who finished with 10 receptions for 141 yards.
Kaiser’s Casey Nguyen split time with Tom at QB before finishing the game out after Tom’s injury. Nguyen, who started the only game Kaiser played last year against Campbell, finished 8-for-21 for 95 yards.
“I have mixed feelings about (the tie),” Nguyen said. “I feel like a lot of the game itself I’m to blame but I think the rest of our team played really well and as a whole we are going to grow a lot this season.
“Toward the end of the game I was looking at the stands and I didn’t expect this many people to come out for the game. It was exciting to play in front of them.”
Aiea will host Nanakuli on Friday in its Division I opener while Kaiser will host Kalaheo in its first Division II game since winning the state title in 2013.
at Kaiser Stadium
Aiea (0-0-1) 0 12 0 0 — 12
Kaiser (0-0-1) 12 0 0 0 — 12
Kais—Koa Tom 5 run (kick blocked)
Kais—Tom 10 run (kick blocked)
Aiea—Zacharias Kalahiki-Basque 20 pass from Kayson Castillo (kick blocked)
Aiea—Fabian Bautista 10 pass from Castillo (pass failed)
RUSHING—Aiea: Keoni Young-Tavai 6-8, Dante Bareng 5-5, Ma’alo Auva’a 2-4, Jordan Cezar 1-2, Bautista 2-0, Kalahiki-Basque 2-(minus 4), team 1-(minus 5), Castillo 4-(minus 5). Kaiser: Tom 8-39, Curtis Chung 11-29, Cavin Lime 5-15, Casey Nguyen 3-(minus 12).
PASSING—Aiea: Castillo 20-45–2-234, Cezar 2-3–0-11, Bautista 1-3-0-(minus 1). Kaiser: Nguyen 8-21–1-95, Tom 5-9–1-72.
RECEIVING—Aiea: Kalahiki-Basque 10-141, Austin Mogote 4-33, Dylan Soberano 4-45, Bautista 4-30, Young-Tavai 1-(minus 5). Kaiser: Mason Yoshino 4-98, Dre Falls 3-7, Nainoa McQuay 2-14, Kaulana Esteban 2-6, Ethan Doman 1-40, Jesse Stroede 1-2.