Kalaheo still felt that it had plenty to play for despite being eliminated from OIA playoff contention prior to Saturday night’s matchup with Kalani.
Despite ending up just a game behind Kaiser for the fourth and final playoff bid in Division II, the Mustangs sent their 10 seniors out winners with a 22-7 victory over Kalani at Kailua’s Alex Kane Stadium.
Two close key losses for Kalaheo (3-7 overall) would have swung its postseason fate. A 28-12 loss to the Cougars on Aug. 10 and a narrow 25-13 defeat to Kaimuki on Oct. 6 were the difference. If the Mustangs could have pulled out at least the Kaiser matchup, their season would have been extended.
It’s in the past now for head coach Darrell Poole. He believes his team faces a bright future in more ways than one after Saturday’s victory. For starters, the team returns running back Carl Addy, who will be a junior next season. The underclassman was impressive on Saturday night, carrying the ball 22 times for a game-high 111 yards and a touchdown.
“We were fortunate that Carl had a good night. We’re short on linemen and the boys battled up front. He was able to get us yardage,” Poole said. “He’s only a sophomore and we have him for the next two years. We’re gonna try to build our offense around him and I think he’s a heck of a football player for the future for us.”
Poole is also hopeful that next season will be a landmark year for the program in terms of where the team plays its games. He hopes the Mustangs will be able to play on their own on-campus field next season.
“I feel optimistic. Next year’s gonna be different. We’ll have a home field that we can actually play and practice on,” Poole said. “We’ve been out of the community for the last two years and I think it’s been logistically hard on the boys and even for some of the parents who don’t really see us because we’re not right there in the middle of the community.
“I feel positive about next year going into it and I think it’s going to be a great year for us, especially if we can play our first game ever on that football field. I think a lot more kids will start coming out and we’ll just look forward for the future.”
Kalaheo athletic director Mark Brilhante was an active participant of the Mustangs’ senior night festivities on Kailua’s field after the game. When asked briefly about the field before exiting the press box, he acknowledged there was still work to be done on it.
But when the day comes, Poole believes it will be a big one.
“That’s gonna be history in the making. I told the returning kids how important that’s gonna be,” Poole said. “First game ever, first win ever, history’s gonna be made next season and it’s gonna be a positive thing for our program.”