Win-loss records say that Aiea Na Alii has been pretty much the same team the past three years, but a deeper dive into the numbers suggest that the 2018 crew was so much better than the previous one.
Na Alii went 2-6-1 this year and 2-6 in 2017, but improved its points per game by more than five (19.8 from 14.3). Their points allowed per game dropped by more than a touchdown (26.9 from 35.5).
The offensive output represents Wendell Say‘s biggest jump from year-to-year since 2012 and with nine straight losing seasons to his credit, next season looks like the one to break the streak.
2018 BEST PERFORMANCES
Junior Kayson Castillo continued Aiea’s long history of excellent quarterbacks, running the offense to the tune of 1,896 yards and 17 touchdowns. Take away the 20 interceptions and Aiea would probably still be playing this week. Castillo had two breakouts games, putting 321 yards up on Nanakuli before going crazy with 380 yards on 68 attempts against Leilehua. Castillo had three touchdowns in that game, but was intercepted five times. That effort gave Na Alii back-to-back seasons with at least one 300-yard game for the first time since Kali Kuia and Alfredo Higa in 2005-2006 and represented the fifth-most passing yards in a game in school history, behind only Kuia, Ty Matsumani, Kobe Kato and Tino Tuli.
Say has always eschewed the run, and this year’s smaller squad was no different. Fabian Bautista led the way with 64 yards on 27 carries and LJ Vongsy nearly caught him with 62 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in five games. Vongsy had the biggest game of the season, actually carrying the ball 10 times against Castle and producing 61 yards and a touchdown for the biggest rushing yardage game for the school since quarterback Noah Taese ran for 64 in 2015. Na Alii have not had a rusher go over the century mark since Isaiah Ripley has 128 against Kaiser in 2015, a span of 32 contests.
One of the great shames of the new world of prep football in Hawaii is that some excellent players turn their pads in in October. Senior Zach Kalahiki-Basque is one of them. The Aiea receiver put together a season that might rival any other in school history with 54 catches for 818 yards and 11 touchdowns, standing out among a talented receiving corps that included Babu Capanang, Bautista and Dylan Soberano. It is hard to choose Kalahiki-Basque’s best game of 2018, but yardage says it was the season opener against Kaiser when he caught 10 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. It was the first of three straight trips over the century mark for Kalahiki-Basque, and four overall, and he caught touchdown passes in seven straight games. That makes him the first Aiea receiver to have four such games since legendary Lofa Liilii in 2005.
With its boom-and-bust offense, Aiea’s defense often has quite a chore to handle being on the field for so long. That wasn’t an issue in a win over Radford, when all of the all-world receivers went both ways and hounded the Rams. Kalahiki-Basque had an interception and added a 56-yard fumble return for a touchdown and Capanang had another pick as Na Alii forced seven turnovers behind Noble Ripley‘s sideline-to-sideline performance.
>> Wendell Say is 124-130-2 in 27 seasons.
>> QB Kayson Castillo finished fourth in Division I in passing yards.
>> WR Zach Kalahiki-Basque finished second in Division I in receiving yards.
>> WR Babu Capanang finished ninth in Division I in receiving yards.
KEY UNDERCLASSMEN IN 2018
>> SE/DB Dylan Soberao (5-6, 155), QB Kayson Castillo (5-11, 150), RB/DB Keoni Young-Tavai (5-7, 150), DE Dan Soranaka (5-9, 170).
FINAL TEAM STATS