Leilehua coach Mark Kurisu is a believer in the bigger picture, those small decisions and actions that have a cumulative impact on his program.
It’s why he holds his players to higher standards in the classroom, for example. He believes that it will help his players respond to adversity on the field. He was seen saying “trust the process” to players, coaches and parents after the Mules’ 20-19 comeback victory over No. 8 Kapolei in overtime on Saturday night, and it was the culmination of what he’s been trying to preach in his first full year at the helm taking over for Nolan Tokuda.
“Whatever we went through, it’s building us for our future. This is the fruit of our labor right now. We did our job, we worked hard,” he said. “Yeah, we had to go over some big hurdles like Kahuku and Mililani, but we trusted the process. That’s all you can ever ask of anybody when they play this sport. These kids are showing it.”
The first conference win of the season for Leilehua (2-2, 1-2 OIA Red) was a total grind for the Mules, who were shut out in their previous games against Kahuku and Mililani and trailed 13-0 at halftime.
They finally broke through in the third quarter when quarterback Kona Andres and Jeremy Evans connected for a 20-yard touchdown. Andres’ second touchdown pass tied things up with 4:42 left in the game.
“Just do my reads, trust the process and execute. Simple as that,” Andres said. “Nothing was really going through my mind. I’m used to it already. Just keep an eye out because we’re not underdogs.”
Kaolei had multiple opportunities to take the lead in regulation but couldn’t finish. The Hurricanes elected to defer in overtime. After that, Andres got his third touchdown of the day, this time a 3-yard sneak up the middle.
The Hurricanes answered with Dylan Toilolo’s 3-yard rushing score, and then the decision to go for two came. After both teams exchanged timeouts, Kapolei quarterback Kaniala Kalaola was picked off in the end zone by Odin Mersberg and the upset was complete.
“There’s no way an average person looks at these two teams and says ‘Leilehua’s going to beat Kapolei.’ No way,” Kurisu said. “Being in that type of game against them and being able to win, it truly is humbling. For us, ordinary people look at the game and they think we would get smashed based off of the last two games.
“Because of the way we conduct ourselves with our character, we’re not ordinary anymore.”
— Christian Shimabuku (@c_shimabuku) September 3, 2017