It’s no secret Rich Miano wanted his Kaiser football team playing in the OIA Red conference this year.
Friday night, the Cougars played their only game of the season against an OIA Red opponent before opening play in the OIA White division next Saturday against Kalani.
Kaiser’s defense, with a trio of impressive linebackers in senior Fitou Fisiiahi (6-0, 235), sophomore Parker Higgins (5-10, 199) and freshman Isaac Slade-Matautia (6-1, 185), held its own against a Campbell team that might be good enough to win the OIA Red West.
Ultimately, a lack of offense (119 total yards) and four turnovers (three fumbles) did the Cougars in, but their performance still was much improved from a 34-6 loss to Campbell in their 2012 season opener.
Quarterback Kahoalii Karratti completed two quick passes midway through the first quarter and connected on a deep throw to Jeshua Bitanga for 34 yards that set up Kaiser’s only touchdown of the game.
He’ll need to be much more consistent, as will the offense as a whole, for the Cougars to make that jump into the Red that is likely coming next year. In the second half, Kaiser ran Fisiiahi on two power formations that gained 5-10 yards a pop, but backup quarterback Kahi Neves, whose physical attributes (6-3, 225) are impressive, fumbled a snap on the next play. Fisiiahi fumbled on a handoff the next time Kaiser had the ball and that was that.
Miano has definitely made many strides taking over a Kaiser team that went 1-15 in games it played the two years before he took over. And while it’s true the Cougars have dreams of competing with the Kahukus, Leilehuas and Waianaes of the world, they need to take care of business this season in the White. They won’t play a defense like Campbell’s again all year and their run game should improve greatly because of it. They have the talent, much of it young talent, to do special things, but it needs to be a process at Kaiser.
First things first, win the OIA White. Friday night was a start, despite losing by two touchdowns.