Kaimuki hopes to regroup after disappointing loss

Kaimuki running back Naomas Asuega-Fualaau scored 16 touchdowns in 10 games with the Bulldogs last season as a junior. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell / Star-Advertiser

After shaking hands with Roosevelt in a hard fought OIA Division II title game, Kaimuki’s players walked toward the north exit of Aloha Stadium in visible disappointment, wondering what could have been.

A 28-18 loss to the Rough Riders stripped the Bulldogs of what would have been the program’s third OIA title and first since 2007. Instead, it was Roosevelt that stuck around for an extended celebration after winning its first ever OIA crown.

Not all is lost for the Bulldogs, who clinched a spot in the HHSAA Division II tournament after last week’s win over Kaiser. But that doesn’t make Friday’s defeat sting less to head coach David Tautofi.

“This championship, this loss is a heavy one. It’s a hard one for us because it’s important to us,” he said. “The grace of it all is we have a shot at the bigger one. We don’t want to jump to the big one before making sure we took care of the first title.”

Kaimuki was in the driver’s seat in the fourth quarter after Naomas Asuega-Fualaau’s third touchdown of the night gave it an 18-13 advantage. After forcing a Roosevelt punt, the Bulldogs got the ball back on their own 40, looking to milk clock with its big offensive line. After Asuega-Fualaau was stripped by Marcus Hee, Isaac Kaleikau returned the fumble 42 yards for a touchdown with 8:14 left, giving Roosevelt the lead back with 8:14 left.

As the Bulldogs were driving for a potential game-winning score, Hee swooped in again for a 75-yard interception return to the end zone with 23 seconds left.

“Mistakes is always what it comes down to, just mistakes. That fumble where they returned it was just a killer,” Tautofi said. “The two touchdowns on defense that they had were the two touchdowns that made the biggest difference.

“Hat’s off to them. We can’t take it away from them, they made the plays that we couldn’t. We just gotta go to the drawing board and figure out what’s next for us.”

Tautofi acknowledged that his squad will in all likelihood have to fly to a neighbor island for a road playoff game as an unseeded team. Roosevelt will likely host a game and earn a seed in this year’s HHSAA Division II championships, which starts on Nov. 10 with the quarterfinals.

“Unfortunately, we’re gonna have to go the long road and travel, I’m sure,” Tautofi said. “We’ll take it one game at a time and stick to what we’ve been sticking to. It’s just a matter of mistakes and being at the right place at the right time.”

Kaimuki has never won a state championship, although it reached the title game in 2010 but fell 49-14 to ‘Iolani.

If the Bulldogs want to make 2018 the year they make history, a long road awaits them.

But for a team that has a history of suiting up less than 30 players, the road less travelled is one they have no fear in taking.

“It’s been a way of life for us. We have just about 26 guys and we’re used to it. … I don’t think it had much of an effect on us,” Tautofi said. “We made too many mistakes and couldn’t dig ourselves out and this was the result.

“We gotta go back to the drawing board, lick our wounds and see where we’ll go from there.”


  1. BulldawgPride October 26, 2018 11:28 pm

    No matter what, you guys stil made all of us Kaimuki alum proud this season. The only gripe I got is the D2 states will have an asterisk next to the winner because the best team isn’t in(Saint Francis)

  2. Daniel October 26, 2018 11:44 pm

    Kaimuki still got a good chance to win states best of luck.

  3. Kamehameha #! October 27, 2018 5:33 am

    Mr. BulldawgPride…Don’t try to discredit the team that will win the championship by calling St. Francis the best team! If they are the best team, then why aren’t they playing?

  4. My Conclusion October 27, 2018 7:31 am

    @ Kamehameha #!

    I think they not playing because of STF attitude to win at all cost. With that, they got caught using an ineligible player.

  5. ??? October 27, 2018 7:35 am

    St. Francis is the best team. Obviously nobody could beat them but themselves.

  6. TheGreatest October 27, 2018 8:50 am

    Elephant Offense worked to perfection!

  7. bulldogadmirer October 27, 2018 4:45 pm

    St. Francis is a thing of the past, everyone gotta play by the same rules. They cheated and having one of their coaches berate and point fingers at others, is an embarassment to the coaching profession and St. Francis School. What? they wanted people to keep quiet about the infraction? No integrity! Only get 6 Teams in the D2 States and they not one of em so need mention them at all.

    Moving forward! Bulldogs and Roughriders will represent! Good Luck to both Teams! May they end up meeting in the State Championship Finals! Storied Bulldog Alumnus; Judge Bert Ayabe, Travis McKay, Larry Neves, Daniel Mafua, Justin Famealelei, Kila Kamakawiwoole, Chester Sua, etc. GO BULLDOGS! carry on the tradition and pride!

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