You could reach into the bag and pull out any number of huge plays from Friday night’s thriller between Kaimuki and Roosevelt at Skippa Diaz Stadium.
Bulldogs running back Naomas Asuega-Fualaau channeled his idol Marshawn Lynch and went full beast mode on a 21-yard touchdown run, running straight into a would-be tackler in the secondary, shedding him and and spinning his way another dozen yards to glory.
Rough Riders return man Shepard Kekahuna exploded up the middle on a kickoff, somehow remained upright in a crowd, emerged from the pack and outran the field on the field for an 89-yard score.
Kaimuki receiver Kaulana Kaluna Jr. dove fully extended over the goal line to snare a pass from Jayden Maiava, hauled it in just before the ball hit the turf, and tumbled end over end while maintaining control.
But the crazy night fittingly ended, for all intents and purposes, with the ball in the hands of one of Kaimuki’s two-way wonders, defensive back and receiver Koby Moananu.
Moananu came down with Sky Ogata’s desperation heave from midfield with under 30 seconds left at about the Kaimuki 10-yard line, sealing a 28-26 Bulldogs win and touching off a homecoming celebration among the soggy faithful in the Kaimuki half of the stands.
It was a fittingly tight battle between two of the elite teams in OIA Division II. They’re now each 4-1 in league play behind Kaiser (4-0).
Moananu, a junior, picked off Ogata twice in the fourth quarter to slow down the defending OIA Division II champion Rough Riders just enough and had an eye-opening 23-yard touchdown catch from Maiava as part of a 21-point Bulldog binge in the first quarter.
“Roosevelt’s a good team. We lost to them last year in the championship game (28-18). We just bounced back this year, worked hard in practice. We just practice every single day and work as hard as we can,” Moananu said.
He had five catches for 83 yards to complement Kaluna’s six grabs for 93, comprising much of the sophomore Maiava’s 217 passing yards on 15-for-23 accuracy with no interceptions. And Asuega-Fualaau was a clock-chewing workhorse, carrying the ball a staggering 39 times for 118 yards.
“Those guys, sometimes we just hop on their back,” Moananu said. “Jayden played phenomenal tonight. Naomas played phenomenal tonight. We just played our hearts out for our homecoming game.”
He said the team drew on its experience playing at Kamehameha-Hawaii in the first round of states last year when the night became rain-drenched starting midway through the first half and intermittently to the finish. The Bulldogs won that soaked game, 28-27.
“That’s nothing new to us, we battled through it,” he said.
Earlier Friday, Maiava dropped a dime on a rope to a diving Moananu through a very tight window by the left pylon with two Rough Riders in the vicinity to make it 21-7 in the second quarter.
“On that play, I think it was designed for the backside but he looked my way and I just went up and he threw a nice ball through the safety and the corner,” Moananu said. “I had to go up and get it. I got it.”
Through seven games, he has 30 receptions for 472 yards and seven touchdowns.
As impressive as his night was for those up in the press box and many in attendance, the guy who counts the most, coach David Tautofi, was moved little on the field as he took stock of the night.
“That’s what Koby’s capable of doing. We hope he can get that consistency every single day, every single game,” Tautofi said. “There’s a lot that he can still work on and get better on. Proud of him, but he’s not where we know he can be. So we’ll go back on Monday and continue to work.”
Note: On Kaimuki’s second-to-last drive of the game, the Bulldogs got inside Roosevelt territory and appeared to consider a 40-yard field-goal attempt to go up 11 points before calling timeout and going for it on fourth down with Asuega-Fualaau taking a wildcat snap for a loss of 3 yards. Tautofi explained afterward that his holder on kicks was hurt earlier in the game, nixing the field goal as a realistic choice.
Also, a shout out to the Kaimuki homecoming court — including a few Bulldogs players — who nailed their halftime performance in the midst of pouring rain.
Check this out. It is pouring BUCKETS out here at Skippa Diaz Stadium and the Kaimuki homecoming court does not miss a beat with its act at halftime (including a few Bulldogs players).@HawaiiPrepWorld pic.twitter.com/nassOx85kW
— Brian McInnis (@Brian_McInnis) September 21, 2019