Little things lead to big plays for Waianae QB

Waianae running back Rico Rosario helped open things up for QB Jaren Ulu. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.
Waianae running back Rico Rosario helped open things up for QB Jaren Ulu. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

Jaren Ulu showed a willingness to absorb punishment in the pocket throughout No. 8 Waianae’s spectacular second-half duel with No. 4 Kamehameha on Friday night.

The Searider quarterback wasn’t shy about delivering a blow either.

Before slinging the decisive touchdown pass in Waianae’s breathtaking 26-20 opening-night win at Kamehameha’s Kunuiakea Stadium, Ulu’s turn as a lead blocker helped spark the Searider offense late in the third quarter.

Both defenses controlled the action through the game’s first 31 minutes and Waianae opened the scoring on defensive end Kanai Mauga’s interception return.

The offenses combined for 11 punts and just five plays covered more than 10 yards in the game’s first 15 drives before Waianae took possession with 4:50 left in the third quarter.

What ensued was sheer madness, and it started with a simple handoff from Ulu to Rico Rosario on second-and-10.

Instead of hanging back after tucking the ball into Rosario’s midsection, Ulu took off downfield ahead of his running back hunting for contact. He put his shoulder into a linebacker to help spring Rosario for a 32-yard gain.

“I try my best to help out my running backs as much as I can,” Ulu said. “If anything a little lead block counts a lot.”

Ulu, who completed four of his first 10 pass attempts for 12 yards, then completed five straight for 40 yards and Rosario punctuated the drive with a punishing 6-yard run to give Waianae a 12-0 lead.

Kamehameha answered with an 11-play scoring drive and took the lead on sophomore Tiger Peterson’s 75-yard punt return. Waianae’s Kade Ambrocio returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards to tip the lead back to the Seariders only to see Thomas Yam lead Kamehameha on a 76-yard march to claim a 20-19 lead with 1:34 left.

That edge lasted all of 20 seconds.

Javen Towne nearly broke away on another kickoff return and his 39-yard burst set up the Seariders at their 46.

On first down, Ulu drifted pressure from his right and stepped up in the pocket. He appeared to have room to salvage a few yards if he chose to keep the ball. Instead he pulled up short of the line of scrimmage and took a jarring shot as he lofted a deep ball down the sideline that Isaiah Freeney chased down for the go-ahead 54-yard touchdown.

“He worked on his footwork this summer and it showed,” Waianae coach Walter Young said. “He was able to move around and get his eyes down the field.

“I think he grew up. Now he’s becoming a leader and he’s doing the little things that’s going to help us.”

After running headlong into Kamehameha’s sturdy defensive front for most of the first half, the Seariders spread the field, dropped Ulu back into the shotgun and the senior completed nine of his last 11 attempts for 112 yards, connecting with Freeney on his final throw of the night.

“We’re going to try to be balanced,” Young said. “Whatever works that day, that’s what we’re going to stick with.”

Waianae next faces Kapolei, a 38-0 winner over Campbell on Friday, on Aug. 13.

“It showed us what we have and there a lot of things we can work on,” Young said, “like starting ealrier on offense, taking away some of the penalties, special teams.

“This just showed us what to work on, so we’re going to go back and regroup and get started for the next game.”


  1. Chloropicrin August 6, 2016 7:47 am

    The last minute of the game was pure madness.. Waianae got called for holding at around the 35 yard line and the refs spotted the ball at the six yard line. How can the ball be placed at the 6 and the spot of the foul happened on back at the 35? And if they did decline, the game should have been over because time expired. And then Kamehameha’s last play supposedly went in for a TD but a holding call neglected that, so they moved the ball back and got one more it because the game can’t end on a penalty?

  2. Alpha August 6, 2016 12:12 pm

    @chloropiciron……. seriously???? Smh, A half or a game cannot end on a defensive penalty( that’s NFL though, idk bout oia)…. already with the refs?, we have got to the worst refs in the nation. They did make sportscenter’s cmon man segment. I respect all the OG refs that’s been doing it for a while, but I think it’s time to train younger group of eyes. They should put out an ad on the military bases to find refs. Some of those not from here so they won’t have any leniency towards any schools…. idk man, I just hope they screw up this season, nd screw over some schools because of procedure oversights.

  3. Chloropicrin August 6, 2016 1:07 pm

    @Alpha yeah man, the very last play ended in a Kamehameha TD, but was called back because of a holding, so therefore the game should have ended right? Since time expired and since T was an offensive penalty. However they moved the ball back and got one more play.

    The play before that Waianae got called for holding at around the 35-40 yard line, where the spot of the foul was. And they placed within the goal line ( where the play ended and time expired) So that made sense that Kamehameha got one more play, since time expired and game cannot end on defensive penalty. But if they declined the penalty, does that still give them one more play since time expired? It just takes away from the kids at the end of the day.

  4. Chloropicrin August 6, 2016 1:18 pm

    The back judge last night was calling penalties from 20-25 yards away. Unreal eye sight seeing penalties in the middle of the pile and scrum. Lol

  5. RidgeRunnerE-5 August 6, 2016 2:48 pm

    That back judge single-handedly brought Kamehameha back into the game. Not taking anything away from the Warriors, but Waianae could’ve won that game by 20+ points.

  6. 88 August 6, 2016 4:40 pm

    If Waianae declined the penalty they would of loss the game because the result of the play was aTD. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed but damn you guys got to be kidding me…..

  7. Hman! August 6, 2016 4:46 pm

    The game should’ve ended! That’s ILH refs for you! Always favoring the private schools. Waianae has a good team and I believe they can beat anyone.

  8. Chloropicrin August 6, 2016 6:01 pm

    the game cannot end on a defensive penalty, however it was an offensive penalty (on Kamehameha) do they still get an extra play? It should have ended, cause time was already expired.

  9. 88 August 6, 2016 7:55 pm

    Because the result of the play was a TD the penalty saved Waianae from losing the game. And a game can end on a defensive penalty. If Waianae was flagged for something while on defense but the result of the play was a TD the TD would count and the game would be over. C’mon man

  10. RidgeRunnerE-5 August 7, 2016 8:51 am

    The hold was the only reason that the play resulted in a touchdown. If Waianae’s #4 wasn’t literally bear-hugged and pulled to the ground, he would’ve tackled the running back for a loss and Waianae wins. The only team that needed to be saved by penalties was Kamehameha.

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