The Kaiser Cougars have returned to the land of the living.
Coach Tim Seaman took over a winless program that played in only one game last year and turned it around with a 4-4-1 record and the No. 4 seed in the OIA Division II playoffs. Knowing Seaman’s history at the school, it isn’t as big of a surprise as it should have been. Seaman took over the same program from Scott Chan in 1993 after a 1-7-1 year and went 9-2, so he has been here before.
The Cougars averaged 20.8 points per game this season, well above the 12.0 ppg Arnold Martinez accomplished two years ago. Kaiser also dropped its points allowed per game to 19.2 under Seaman after being stuck with 35.2 points against under Martinez in 2016.
The Cougars scored more points than they allowed for the first time since 2014 when Cameron Higgins called the shots. Put Seaman’s three years as head coach together, and he has the second-best winning percentage (.655) in program history behind only Rich Miano (.833) and better than program legends Ron Lee (.568), Chan (.355) and Tony Gayer (.414).
2018 TOP PERFORMANCES
Senior Koa Tom, the younger brother of former Kaiser QB Nic Tom, led the way under center for the new Cougars, throwing for 1,333 yards and 12 touchdowns to nine interceptions, with Casey Nguyen serving as a capable backup after beginning the season as the starter. Tom certainly made the decision look like a good one later in the season against Pac-Five, when he connected on a season-high 18 completions for 336 yards and four touchdowns. Before that performance, he never threw for more than two touchdowns in a game and his high in yardage was 172 against Kaimuki the week prior. Tom’s 336 yards tied B.J. Bernard from 2000 for third-most in a single game in program history behind only David Chu (2001) and Kaulahea Silva (1990). His seven 100-yard games were the most since Kalawai’a Judd in 2014.
Cavin Lime took the bulk of the carries for Kaiser in 2018, but senior Noah Matsumoto earned the yardage lead with 246 to Lime’s 216 despite 30 fewer carries. Curtis Chung only had 99 yards on 39 carries, but matched Lime with two touchdowns, half as many as Tom produced. The modest rushing totals by the team in general allowed Matsumoto to take the rushing title from Lime in the final game, which was Kaiser’s best effort of the season. Matsumoto covered 68 yards on nine carries against Kaimuki, two weeks after he went 8-41-1 against Waialua. He didn’t have more than six carries against any other team. Matsumoto’s 68-yard game was the most for the school since Jensen McDaniel finished 2015 with 90 yards against Campbell.
Sophomore Mason Yoshino was the only receiver to catch passes in all eight games, nabbing 36 balls for 620 yards and five touchdowns to lead the team in all three categories. Dre Falls and Jesse Stroede had four touchdowns each, with Falls catching 27 passes for 352 yards and Stroede going 16-220. Yoshino went over 100 yards twice and Falls did it once, the first time the program has had three games over 100 yards receiving since Christian Clapp had four in 2012. Yoshino had the biggest day for a Cougar receiver in Tom’s coming out party against Pac-Five, catching nine passes for 163 yards, the biggest yardage game for a receiver since Destin Moss had 173 to help beat Kahuku in 2014. Yoshino’s total is the eighth-highest receiving game in program history. Only Moss and Yoshino are on the top-10 list from after 2002.
Kaiser had a fine defense this year, holding opponents under three touchdowns six times, but the finest effort came in September against Kalani. The Cougars pitched their first shutout since 2015 against McKinley and put up a zero in the rivalry game with Kalani for the first time since 2007. The swarming Cougars forced Kalani quarterback Nicholas Sakamoto into 17 incomplete passes and five interceptions in 31 attempts, by far his worst day of the season. Kaiser stifled Kalani’s running game to 32 yards, 28 of them on Brayden Miguel‘s lone carry. They collared Sakamoto 16 times for negative-21 yards.
>> Tim Seaman is 22-23-3 in his fifth season overall as head coach.
>> QB Koa Tom finished third in Division II in passing yards.
>> WR Mason Yoshino finished second in Division II in receiving yards.
>> WR Dre Falls finished ninth in Division II in receiving yards.
KEY UNDERCLASSMEN IN 2018
>> WR/DB Jesse Stroede (5-8, 135), WR Dre Falls (5-6, 125), DL Noah Stinson (5-10, 175), DB Ethan Domen (5-10, 170), WR Mason Yoshino (5-8, 150), LB Hunter Yamada (5-9, 190), DL Joseph Chin (6-0, 210).
FINAL TEAM STATS