For many a playoff team, there is a certain type of pain reserved for this kind of defeat.
For the Castle Knights, it’s a bit of that and a lot of something else. After all these years in the game, Nelson Maeda, who played football for the University of Hawaii, was as gentle and blunt as could be.
“I’m sorry to see the season come to an end. I’m sorry we couldn’t play the type of Castle football that we we like,” Maeda said after the Knights lost to higher-seeded Kapolei, 41-0, on Friday.
He gave Kapolei all the credit for a “dominant” win, but Castle’s loss included 10 penalties for 97 yards, unusually high numbers for the Black Knights.
“We had a lot of mistakes, a lot of undisciplined play,” Maeda continued. It would’ve been nice to see this group of 29 play another game.”
The Hurricanes didn’t sleep on their opening-round foes. Coach Darren Hernandez and his staff had no desire to let Castle quarterback Willie Ewaliko and his most trusted playmaker, Jeremy McGoldrick, get comfortable. Ewaliko faced a consistently badgering pass rush and was sacked four times, hurried a bunch more.
He finished with 179 passing yards (23-for-42) and scrambled for 24 rushing yards on 11 carries.
McGoldrick, who had 43 receptions, 690 yards and 15 TD catches coming into the game, finished with three receptions for 25 yards.
“(Ewaliko) hurt us a couple of times. Luckily, they were called for holding,” Hernandez said. “The biggest threat was Jeremy McGoldrick, No. 7. We decided this guy was not going to beat us. We were going to try to double him, we’re going to try and take him out of the game because he’s so dangerous. He scored a touchdown in every game he played this year. This guy is a dangerous weapon. We decided we’re going to contain him and have everybody else beat us.”
It’s happened before, but it’s rare. A team with numbers in the 20s has pulled out big wins over the years, but the probabilities are stacked against them. Back in the 1980s, a team at Honokaa won the league title with just 17 players. That’s something that would be highly discouraged today — fielding a team with that low a number of players — due to safety reasons. But it can be done.
It takes an enormous amount of execution, conditioning and, of course, self-control. That’s something that never changes, and if the stout-hearted Knights are to go beyond the first round next year, discipline will again be a must.