Quarterbacks dream about the scenario. Coaches scheme for it and kickers dread it until it’s over.
Everything Waipahu had worked for since March presented itself when the Marauders recovered a Pearl City fumble on the Chargers’ 41-yard line with under five minutes remaining in the OIA Division II championship game at Aloha Stadium on Thursday night.
Down by six points, Waipahu quarterback Braden Amorozo seized the moment, delivering a 33-yard dime to Isaac Yamashita that set up a 3-yard rushing score by super sophomore Alfred Failauga with 3:22 left on the clock. The game was temporarily tied, and the extra point attempt that ensued could give the team its first lead of the game.
Brycen Amorozo, Braden’s little brother who had been called up from JV just three days before, trotted to the 10-yard line with a comfort and poise rarely seen by a freshman playing his first varsity game.
Despite a high snap, the younger Amorozo knocked it through the uprights with plenty of leg and Waipahu held on for a 23-22 victory, giving the Marauders their first OIA Division II title since 2011.
Earlier in the game, Brycen Amorozo’s 23-yard field goal in the third quarter cut the Pearl City lead to 22-16, making the game-winning drive feasible in the end.
“We put him in and he made a great field goal for us. It was awesome. Super proud of that kid,” Waipahu head coach Bryson Carvalho said of Brycen. “Such a great kid, just like his brother.”
Waipahu’s previous kicking duties belonged to Braden Amorozo, who would stick around every practice for around an hour to an hour and a half to kick with his little brother. So when the time came for all the extra reps to pay off, Brycen knew where his mind would go.
“I was really trying to stay calm. I heard everybody from the Pearl City side and I put them out of my head,” Brycen Amorozo said. “I thought about my team, especially my brother because he really helped me kick after practice. He taught me a lot about football and I just kicked both of the points believing in my team.”
“My brother worked extremely hard just to make sure his kicks are good and I’m so proud of that guy,” Braden Amorozo added. “I love him to death.”
Oct. 28, 2016 is a day that is not forgotten among the Waipahu team. The Marauders were edged by Waialua, 36-35, giving the Bulldogs their first conference championship since 1955.
When this year’s edition met in the spring, they vowed to themselves that the loss would fuel them the entire season.
Fast forward to Thursday night, and the Marauders are 10-0 heading into this year’s HHSAA Division II state championships.
But rewind back to 2015 when Carvalho got the head job at his alma mater, when the seeds toward the program’s steady rise were planted during a meeting with the older Amorozo.
“He told me ‘I want that quarterback that wants that ball with two minutes left and when we need a score.’ We had that moment and we were able to capitalize,” Braden Amorozo said.
Carvalho was on the Waipahu staff for 11 years as an assistant coach but left after the 2013 season. After a year of balancing college and full-time work in California, Carvalho decided to come home and lead the program.
Thursday night served as a reminder why.
“Three years ago, I made a choice to come back home and be the head coach here,” he said. “It’s for moments like this. I couldn’t be more happy.”