It’s not easy to say goodbye.
That’s why Waianae quarterback Jaren Ulu‘s voice cracked just a little bit while he was being interviewed after the Seariders’ 54-0 victory over Radford on Friday night at Raymond Torii Field.
Unless Waianae (6-1 5-1 OIA Blue) hosts a playoff game, this was the last time Ulu will be playing on the field he loves so much in front of family and friends and the die-hard fans.
A few minutes later, Ulu’s name was announced over the loudspeaker during a senior night procession. Like the rest of the seniors, he walked up and greeted his parents and got to hear the announcer say what his parents had written down about their love for him.
Love was the theme of the postgame festivities, but love is also an element within the team itself.
“I like that we shared the ball a lot,” Ulu said after the victory. “And shared all of the love we could and glad all of the seniors could make plays on this wonderful last game that we can play on this home field. It’s pretty emotional, playing on this field — which is so nice alongside the beach. It’s amazing and life-changing. I’m really going to miss it.”
Sure enough, many of the 35 Seariders seniors had a big hand in the win before talking their senior walk:
>> Running back Javen Towne — 64 yards and a touchdown rushing.
>> Linebacker Jaylen Gonzales — sack of Rams punter Chase Murphy.
>> Wide receiver Isaiah Freeney — two TD catches.
>> Quarterback Jaren Ulu — 10-for-12 for 130 yards and three TDs passing, and a rushing TD.
>> Running back Jorell Pontes-Borje — 36 yards and a TD rushing.
>> Defensive back Elijah Brame — several pass breakups and hard hits.
>> Running back Kade Ambrocio — three catches for 55 yards and a rushing TD.
>> Running back Dylan Keliikoa — rushing TD.
>> Defensive lineman Rudy-Jay Keopuhiwa — hard hits all night long.
>> Donavan Tavares — TD catch.
It should also be mentioned that four offensive linemen — Mililani Misipati, John McFall, Jonah Maga and Micah Atuatasi — are seniors and they opened several gaping holes for the backs.
But where does Waianae go from here? Will Ulu and the rest of the seniors make it as far or farther (or not as far?) as last season, when Waianae made it to the state semifinals and lost 13-0 to the eventual D-I champion Kahuku Red Raiders?
“I feel that we just have to buckle down on all of the rest of the regular-season games, so that when we really do need it in the playoffs, it’s right there and we just have to ball out and execute everything,” Ulu said.
The Seariders visit Campbell for their regular-season finale next Friday and then have a bye the following week before the playoffs start.
And Ulu’s thoughts about Waianae’s chance of getting to the promised land?
“I sure hope we do (have a chance),” he said. “I sure think we do. We have a lot of confidence and a lot of talent that we have to put to use the right way.”