Before No. 9 Kailua gets nine players back next week, the Surfriders went with what they had on Friday night against Buckeye Union (Ariz.), which was a grand total of 29 players according to head coach Joseph Wong.
It led to many players going both ways. If that weren’t enough, it was a total grind of a game, a back-and-forth affair that the Surfriders eventually won 28-27 against a team that had almost twice as many (50) players listed on its roster.
“They bended a lot throughout the game but they never broke,” Wong said. “It was an unbelievable team effort.”
The Hawks scored the game’s final touchdown with 1:02 to go in the fourth quarter when Buckeye quarterback Joseph Perez and Anthony Smart connected for an 8-yard touchdown. They decided to go for the win when they lined up for a two-point conversion, but Perez’s go-ahead pass was dropped.
The Surfriders rode their backfield to victory, led by quarterback Aaron Mejia, who threw a touchdown pass and ran for another. He was joined by Samson Rasay, who carried the ball 19 times for 138 yards and a touchdown.
“That was intense. Our defense helped us out. Our offense had to push a little harder. It was tough,” Mejia said. “We just had to execute our plays and hold on.”
Hold on they did, and now the Surfriders are 2-0. And with nine new bodies in the depth chart, Wong can feel the excitement growing around his team.
“It was tough for them. They got some heart, they got some determination and you can never take that away from them. They played their (tails) off out there,” Wong said. “We got some things to clean up, but I like their resiliency and how they came together.
“It could have been easier if we had more guys in there but we get everyone back against Nanakuli. Now it’s gonna be a whole different team.”
When asked about his dearth of teammates, Mejia acknowledged – and embraced it.
He paused. Then shrugged.
“It doesn’t really matter. But quality is where we’re at.”