The season is over for Castle, but not the hope.
When coach Nelson Maeda spoke about the Knights’ 2-6 season after Friday night’s 34-0 road playoff loss to Kapolei, he did it while spinning it forward.
“We got some glimpse of success, and we have something to build on for next … this coming season,” he said.
That pause between the words “next” and “this coming season” said a lot. You could tell he was already thinking about, well, the season that’s going to start as soon as he gets home and starts planning all over again.
Quarterback Willie Ewaliko will be back for his senior season in 2015 and that’s a pretty good foundation. He is a tough customer and mobile, and he is accurate with his short to midrange passes.
Stephen Lee, who saw limited action at QB due to injury, is graduating. He threw for 1,254 yards in 2013 as a junior.
Royce Simeona-Townsend, a playmaker in the defensive backfield and a slotback, will be among the key returnees, but Castle’s top receiver, Chad Figueroa, will be one of the many key players who will be lost to graduation.
Even though the Knights didn’t score against Kapolei, they moved the ball effectively in the first half when Ewaliko went 23-for33, but two early turnovers led to a 13-0 Hurricanes lead. For the night, four Castle turnovers led to points for Kapolei.
Hurricanes coach Darren Hernandez made some adjustments to his zone defense in the second half and it worked because they held Ewaliko to just two completions in the second half.
“We were just too inconsistent,” Maeda said, referring to the game and the season.
Aside from its two wins (against one-win Waipahu and winless McKinley), Castle gave Kahuku a scare through one and a half quarters and led 19-18 before the OIA Red champion Red Raiders pulled away for a 56-19 rout.
The Knights also played tough in losses to Leilehua (41-28), Waianae (21-13) and Kaiser (28-23) — three teams that have ranked in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Top 10.
Castle’s defense showed it wasn’t going to just give up on the season, though, by securing four turnovers in the second half against Kapolei — fumble recoveries by Ionatana Malufau and Kalani Scanlen, and interceptions by Keanu Furtado and Colby Kruse, but the Knights couldn’t cash in.
Kind of like their whole season. Maybe the payoff will be “this coming season.”
One thing for sure, Castle didn’t go down without a fight.