Forcing a turnover is an exciting moment for a defense. Often, coaches will point to takeaways as key moments or turning points in ball games.
In Moanalua’s 42-7 rout over visiting Kailua on Friday, those moments came early and often.
“Our defensive backs coach told us that when the quarterback throws the ball, we’re supposed to see the ball and we’re supposed to take it,” defensive back Trequan Henderson said. “Tonight, there were opportunities to be made.”
Henderson had two of the six Na Menehune interceptions on the night. Moanalua also recovered two fumbles and notched two sacks.
Three of those turnovers came as Kailua approached pay dirt, with two interceptions coming in the end zone.
“It’s trust,” Moanalua head coach Savai’i Eselu said regarding his defense. “Complete trust in each other, and complete trust in the scheme. Tonight I think we saw our defense come around to how we expect them, and the numbers showed it.”
It’s not as if Kailua had a poor performance yardage-wise during the game. The Surfriders managed a respectable 221 yards of offense. But the lack of production on the scoreboard, largely by their own hand, proved to be their undoing.
“We have this drill that they call ‘seven shots,’ where the offense throws the ball into the end zone and we have to try and stop it,” Henderson said. “And we like to believe that we’re going to win those battles.”
That type of confidence proved to be vital to Moanalua’s success in keeping Kailua off the scoreboard.
It also fueled Moanalua with that undeniable jolt of energy that turnovers provide for a team.
“I can’t even describe it, man,” Henderson said. “All I know is we love it, and we always want to go and make some more. It gives us a lot of excitement with each other when we can get them.”
But despite the positives of turnovers, Eselu also made it a point to stress keeping emotions in check. Late in the game, Moanalua was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct after Moanalua players jubilantly celebrated defensive back Rashod Tanner’s 58-yard interception return for a touchdown.
“I had to pull a lot of guys towards the end of the game,” Eselu said. “We’ve been on the other end of that spectrum before. If you ain’t playing humble, then you are playing wrong.”
Na Menehune is tied with Leilehua at 3-0 for the OIA Division I lead. The two teams play Friday in Wahiawa.