After scoring just five touchdowns in its first six games last year, Kailua matched that mark on opening night of Joseph Wong’s second season as head coach.
The Surfriders had trouble finding the end zone for most of last season and struggled a bit finishing drives early in their nonconference game against visiting Castle on Friday.
But senior quarterback Noah Auld and receiver Martin Tigilau connected on three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter and Kailua pulled away to a 34-24 win at Alex Kane Stadium.
The duo split the starts at quarterback last year with Tigilau starting three games behind center before Auld returned to reclaim the spot for the final three games of the season. Auld opened his senior season by completing 15 of 27 passes for 189 yards and five scores, four going to Tigilau who caught six passes for 86 yards.
Auld distributed the ball to five receivers and the Surfriders’ balance helped set up their aerial outburst late in the game.
The Surfriders established the ground game with Mark Lagazo and Gabriel LeLesch combining for 126 yards in the first half. Kana Richardson ran for 79 yards in the second half to contribute to the Surfriders’ 204 yard rushing total. LeLesch led the Surfriders with 88 yards on 15 carries.
“When you hit the ground game you take the heart of the defense,” Wong said. “So we did a good job establishing the run with our backs, hat’s off to them, and the line kept pounding away.”
The Kailua offensive line helped power the Surfriders to 393 yards in total offense and keeping Auld healthy is one of Wong’s priorities heading into the regular season.
“That’s our biggest thing with him because if he’s in there we know we’ll be in there at the end no matter who we’re playing against,” Wong said, “because he’s just a good field general for us.”
Kailua scored in double figures just once in its first six games last year and was shut out twice in that span. The Surfriders had scored just 35 points going into their finale against Moanalua before breaking loose offensively in a 34-33 loss to Moanalua to close an 0-7 season with Auld throwing for 195 yards and two touchdowns.
Wong, a former standout on the Kailua offensive line before playing at BYU and in the NFL, had spent nine years as an assistant with the Surfriders before taking over the program last year. Friday’s win was his first as head coach and ended the program’s 10-game losing streak.
“It’s just tying to change and bring the dynamic back of Kailua football,” Wong said. “Change the way we do things, the way we carry ourselves on and off the field. That’s all I’m trying to establish, is bring back that old Kailua we’ve been known for here.”