CLOSING THE BOOK: Kalani Falcons

Kalani's Nicholas Sakamoto was the majority of the Falcons' offense in 2018 and returns in 2019. Photo by Darryl Oumi/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Scott Melemai‘s Kalani Falcons took a step back in 2018, failing to win more than two games for the first time since 2010 under longtime mentor Greg Taguchi.

The Falcons struggled mightily to put points on the board, averaging only 5.3 per game after raising that number to 26.3 last season. They were shut out six times, the most since the dark days of 2001, and it was the first time since 2007 the Falcons failed to average at least a touchdown a game.

The defense wasn’t much better, yielding more than 30 points per game (31.2) for the first time since 2012. Last year they held opponents to 23.5 points per game.



Junior Nicholas Sakamoto, replacing three-year starter Seth Tina-Soberano, ran the show for the Falcons, throwing every pass for the team. He exceeded 1,000 yards passing and had a hand in six of the seven touchdowns the team scored on offense. His 20 interceptions certainly hurt the cause, but in the one game he didn’t turn it over he showed what the Falcons were capable of. Sakamoto threw for 161 yards and three touchdowns without throwing a pick in a 22-16 win over McKinley. Filling the void left by Tina-Soberano was never going to be easy, but Sakamoto held down the fort.


Sakamoto was just as important to the running game, getting 125 carries with nobody else getting more than 47. He never broke the plane, but he did earn 287 yards even with sacks counted against him. Junior Nathaniel Balangitao was the top pure running back, earning 191 yards and a touchdown in six games. Balangitao didn’t get a carry until a month into the season and got more than 10 carries only once. But when he did, he put on a show. Balangitao toted the rock 21 times in a road game against Wailaua, churning out 157 yards and a touchdown. That was Kalani’s only game over 100 yards all season and most in a single game since Sean Silas earned 192 against Kaimuki in 2015.


Jerick Robinson was a true No. 1 for Sakamoto, catching 33 passes for 331 yards and a touchdown while Noah Ah Sam, Javan Montiho and Jonathan Cai allowed the Falcons to spread it around when Robinson commanded too much attention. The Falcons never got a receiver over the century mark, the first time in a full season since 2007, but Robinson did go over 50 yards three times including five catches for 60 yards against Pearl City’s stout defense in a tough loss.


With the offense struggling as much as it did, the defense had to be prefect and for one night in Waialua it was. The Falcons shut out the Bulldogs, holding the country team to under 150 yards passing and a negative output rushing. The Falcons also shut out the Bulldogs last year, making 2017-18 the first time Kalani pitched shutouts in successive seasons since 1997 and 1998.

>> Scott Melemai is 10-15 in three seasons.

>> QB Nicholas Sakamoto finished fourth in Division II in passing yards.
>> WR Jerick Robinson finished eighth in Division II in receiving yards.

>> QB Nicholas Sakamoto (6-0, 170), DE/RB Nathaniel Balangitao (6-0, 160), LB Tanner Park (5-7, 150), OL Seiya Shiragami (6-0, 185), WR Noah Ah Sam (5-10, 135)


Nicholas Sakamoto10116-296-201,0346
Nicholas Sakamoto101252870
Nathaniel Balangitao6471911
Jake Lee631590
Kai Sigler53380
Brayden Miguel51280
Javan Montiho722250
Jerick Robinson92-10
Jerick Robinson9333311
Noah Ah Sam8171682
Jonathan Cai7101130
Micah Matsuda612980
Javan Montiho79702
Mark Mendoza24630
Nathaniel Balangitao67600
Jake Lee67550
Brayden Miguel59380
Jevin Matsukado11210
Kai Sigler5160
Jalen Galapate1240
Dillon Cortez1240
Noa Uchida1110
Sheldon Chu11-10
Kalani freshman Noah Ah Sam (84) caught a pass against Pac-Five. Photo by Darryl Oumi/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Kalani’s Mark Mendoza broke up a pass intended for Pac-Five’s Angelo Coluccio during a game this season. Photo by Darryl Oumi/Special to the Star-Advertiser.


  1. Coach Brad October 16, 2018 8:38 pm

    Great effort by the Falcons. Very proud of the players’ fortitude, courage and dedication. You’ll all go very far in life….guaranteed! Right on Nick, Rayce, Javon and Sheldon!!!

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