CLOSING THE BOOK: 2019 Nanakuli Golden Hawks

Nanakuli's Randen McCabe (5) celebrated after intercepting a pass against Kaiser. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

>> 5-5 overall, 4-4 OIA Division II

>> Kili Watson is 6-22 in three season with the Golden Hawks.

KEY UNDERCLASSMEN IN 2019: WR/RB Tahj Hauhio, 5-6, 150, Jr.; LB Lexsien Kunukau, 5-7, 170, Jr.; DB Randen McCabe, 5-5, 140, Jr.; WR Kekoa Torres, 5-7. 145, Jr.; DB Kawika Keopuhiwa, 5-0, 150, Jr.



The Nanakuli Golden Hawks have suffered the indignity of a 10-loss season twice: in 1990 under Skippy Lopes and again last year under Kili Watson. While Lopes followed that season with one win, Watson broke through with five and a .500 season. 

The Golden Hawks were better in all phases of the game this year, improving the offense by 13 points per game and the defense by 11.  Both marks, 21.0 by the offense and 24.4 by the defense, are the best for the program since Keala Watson‘s successful 2015 team and the defense’s number has decreased in each of Kili Watson‘s three years at the helm.

For all of its success this season, Nakakuli was outscored for the fourth straight year but this time by the miniscule margin of 3.4 points per game. Other teams in history to share that margin were Cal Lee‘s 1982 Saint Louis group (2-8-1), the 1994 Waipahu Marauders under Sam Delos Reyes (5-4) and George Naukana‘s 1966 Kaimuki team (4-7).  

The genesis of Nanakuli’s improvement on offense came with Sedric Crawford‘s improvement over the summer. Crawford allowed Watson to raise his team’s pass plays to 40 percent after 34 percent the previous year, and the offense ran 66 more plays than the previous year. 

Crawford, a linebacker who threw only 29 passes for 68 yards in his junior year, threw 29 passes for 254 yards and the first five touchdown passes of his career in the season opener against Molokai. Crawford didn’t miss a game all season, and threw at least one interception in each of them to finish the year with a 12-12 split. Not shy about slinging it, Crawford struggled down the stretch when Kaiser and Roosevelt had more tape on him but still managed to finish with 1,219 yards. That is a huge number compared to the previous year, when Charles Hauhio led the team with a paltry 180 yards. Crawford finished his prep football career as the first Golden Hawk to throw for more than 1,000 yards since Nainoa Banks in the glory days of 2015. Crawford threw all but two passes for the team, with Keahi Ah Sue and Kekoa Torres each going 1-for-1.

Crawford wasn’t only an effective passer, he was probably even more dangerous with his feet. He carried the ball 126 times for 598 yards and eight touchdowns, a yardage mark that would have led the team in each of the previous four years. Crawford brutalized Pearl City for 164 yards and two TDs but he was still the second option in nearly every other game. Tahj Hauhio went over the century mark three times, including a 229-yard effort against McKinley that placed him on the top 10 of the school’s single-game rushing list.

Hauhio ended up leading the team with 756 yards and tied with Crawford’s eight scores, gaining the most yards on the ground since Makaila Haina-Horswill erupted for 1,376 yards in 2014. Throw in 103 yards by Torres, and the Golden Hawks had a rushing threat that brought to mind the Chazz TroutmanKhade ParisBrandon Felisi cerberus in 2012. Keola Bright was another big gainer for Nanakuli, accepting the ball only three times but turning it into 95 yards.

Nainoa Paz was Crawford’s top target from Day 1, opening the season with 107 yards and two touchdowns and finishing with a team-leading 36 grabs for 447 yards and five scores. His yardage was the most for the school since Chyson Morgan in 2016. Hauhio, the leading rusher, started the year with 11 catches in the first three games but caught only two passes the rest of the way. With Hauhio more concerned with blocking on passing plays, Torres and Royce Wilms stepped up to be secondary receiving threats behind Paz. A year after having only one receiver exceed 100 yards for the season, Nanakuli had four, and it made a difference.

Crawford and Paz will put their prep careers behind them next year knowing that they successfully put a struggling program in a place to succeed. Undersized Hauhio and Torres will be tasked with taking that next step.

Nanakuli’s Josh Mahuka (31) made a catch against Kaiser. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.


Sedric Crawford1098-236-121,21912
Keahi Ah Sue11-1-060
Kekoa Torres81-1-020
Tahj Hauhio91537568
Sedric Crawford101265988
Kekoa Torres8121031
Keola Bright33950
Josh Mahuka314640
Randen McCabe413310
Ikaika Kuaiwa211230
Prestent Kaho'okele-Himalaya27100
Kadin Kaohu11-20
Royce Wilms51-50
Keahi Ah Sue11-50
Nainoa Paz10364475
Kekoa Torres8172444
Tahj Hauhio9131311
Royce Wilms5141230
Gavin Vea-Flint38831
Keola Bright33591
Leighton Tokioka11360
Josh Mahuka32310
Dominic Manuwa22310
Deuce Yin11280
Randen McCabe43110
David Kalili1130
Nanakuli receiver Nainoa Paz had over 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns in a win over Molokai to open the season. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Nanakuli coach Kili Watson spoke to his players during the Kaiser game. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Nanakuli defensive lineman Cameron Vaivai (34) chased down Molokai running back Kolee Pedro-Tabilangan (8) during the season opener. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Nanakuli quarterback Sedric Crawford had two 200-yard passing games this season. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.


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