They wanted more.
The Kapolei Hurricanes played some stellar defense in the face of Kahuku’s smashmouth attack, but never got anything going offensively until the second half. The good news is that much of the ‘Canes’ difficulties — bad snaps, dropped snaps, dropped passes — are correctible. Not that it softens the sting of defeat, 27-7 at the hands of the then-fourth ranked Red Raiders on Friday night.
“Never happy with a loss. I’m never happy with a moral victory.,” Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said. “A lot of people say, ‘You held to to only so many yards and you played great defense for the most part.’ But we made a lot of mistakes. We gave them a lot of opportunities.”
The Hurricanes (1-1) entered the OIA regular-season opener ranked No. 7 in the Star-Advertiser Top 10 coming off a 49-28 preseason win over Kaiser. Hernandez credited the visitors.
“Look, they’re a great team, no question about it. They outplayed us in every facet of the game, but when you play a team of that caliber and you make all the mistakes, the entire first half of the game was played on our side of the field. We had poor field position because of our own mistakes,” he said.
The two safeties by Kapolei were stunning and almost surreal.
“I’ve never been involved in a game in 20 years as a coach that had two safeties,” Hernandez said. “A safety is really like a turnover, giving the ball back to their offense, they just try to steamroll you. That’s two more possessions. We made it tough on ourselves. They are the best defense and special teams in the league, no doubt.”
While the offense works out its kinks — earlier, the Kapolei offense was humming in a scrimmage against Saint Louis and a preseason win over Kaiser — the defensive unit made big progress. After permitting more than 400 rushing yards against the Cougars, they limited Kahuku to 252 total yards of offense.
“We got a lot of guys back. Still have a few guys out who are injured. Our inside linebacker, Timmy Cho, did a great job for us tonight. Smart, cerebral, tough. He did a great job for us tonight,” Hernandez said. “I think we played pretty good team defense. He was the one who really stood out for me. Everybody did an equally good job.”
Hernandez, a former University of Hawaii defensive lineman, is calling on his ‘D’ to anchor the squad.
“We did give up that long run at the end. We were unable to protect the end zone a couple times when they got good field position. You have to play defense everywhere. You can’t just play good defense when you have good field position. When you don’t have good field position, that’s when you have to play your best defense,” he said.
It was early in the 2014 season when Kapolei traveled to Kahuku and then-sophomore lineman Punahou Aina’s father, John, fell ill during the first half.
“This was an emotional game for us because of Punahou Mahelona. He lost his father last year and the boys really wanted to win this for him. He just got cleared. It’s a painful loss,” Hernandez said.
The Hurricanes are back on their feet, preparing for one of the surprise title contenders in OIA Division I.
“We’ve got Kailua on Saturday. Kailua is the real deal. They’ve got some big linemen. There’s no easy games in our division. Aiea put up 43 points tonight. Moanalua, also in our division, also put up almost 40 points tonight. Then you’ve got Mililani, Campbell. Campbell will be back with a vengeance,” Hernandez said.