The black flag always seems to catch trade winds best when the Waipahu Marauders are winning.
After a hard-earned 36-28 win over Kaimuki on Saturday night, the Marauders are 5-1 in OIA Division II play (6-1 overall). They’re soaring higher than they have in years, and though the game did not boil down to just two plays, there were certainly two that are unforgettable.
Second-year head coach Bryson Carvalho and his staff had some heavy lifting to do lately. The Marauders were stymied by first-place Pearl City a month ago. The relatively-young Marauders, with juniors in some key starting positions, seemed a step slow that night. Their normally explosive offense was limited by a tough Chargers defense. The Marauders were doused, perhaps, by the wet weather that night on Aiea High School field.
It was a night most coaches and players would prefer to forget. Not Carvalho. Here’s what the longtime former player and assistant coach shared long after the game — well after post-game senior-night festivities had concluded. And long after the Marauders had cleaned up the bleachers and field at John Kauinana Stadium on the campus at Mililani High School.
HPW: Has there been an impact from the loss to Pearl City?
Coach Carvalho: The Pearl City game has a huge impact on our team. I say HAS because it’s still an impact. It was our wake up call. I told the boys to remember the feeling they felt after that game and use it as their motivation to never allow that to happen again.
HPW: Final play of the first half, you had let the clock wind down to :03 instead of trying to drive downfield with your full cache of time outs. Just like magic, Braden Amorozo heaves a 39-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Cody Andres-Paguirigan at the goal line. No. He’s hit by defenders as the ball arrives, and two Kaimuki players get their hands on the ball. But they can’t hold on, and there’s Isaac Yamashita, diving over the goal line to retrieve the ball before it hits the turf, just like everyone had practiced every day for months, right?
Coach Carvalho: We practiced the Hail Mary once. That was about 4 weeks ago, but I felt that was the best option. It was fourth down and I wanted to take a shot at the end zone. I had some timeouts left so I called a timeout at 3 seconds and gave the kids instructions & they executed it to perfection! Couldn’t be more proud of them.
HPW: That was huge. It gave your team a 13-7 lead going into halftime. Then, your team is up 21-20 in the second half. After a touchdown, it’s 27-20 and the conventional thought is to kick the PAT and go up eight points. But your offense lines up for the PAT with four wide right and four wide left, three at the ball. Ezekial Kai Kapanui Reyes takes the shotgun snap and runs up the middle for the 2-point conversion. That turns it into a 9-point lead and a two-possession game with 6:45 to go. Huge.
Coach Carvalho: The 2 point conversion was installed this week. There’s multiple options Ezekial has on that particular play. We look to see if there’s a mismatch against our formation. If there’s nowhere to go, we bring everyone in for the kick. Just so happen Zeke saw the opening and he took it.
HPW: Everything seems to be clicking again for Waipahu. Kickoffs are touchbacks — Isaiah Harris hit the back line of the end zone on the fly one time. Your defense is physical and swarming. Your offense is balanced and Amorozo is in command.
Coach Carvalho: You know a lot of our offense really puts a lot of the decisions in the kids hands. Braden and the slots have so many different assignments on every play and can change according to how the defense lines up. We have a lot of trust in them. Sure there’s thing to work on and good teams like Kaimuki will expose that, but I’m pleased with how our kids kept fighting. We’re going to enjoy this win over the weekend and set our focus on Kalani to close out our regular season.