Nanakuli would not be denied on Saturday night. Not with a 10-game losing streak that dated back to 2015 and continued last week with a 51-14 season-opening loss to Division II Waipahu at home.
The Golden Hawks pulled out all the stops in Aiea and willed their way to a 12-7 victory over Na Alii, one that included four fourth-quarter stands on defense that would have squandered their lead otherwise.
“That’s one of the more unique things about the kids from our community. Faced with adversity, they will never back down. Just naturally,” Nanakuli head coach Kili Watson said. “I’m glad they were able to show that in the fourth quarter. It was a huge relief knowing that we can rely on our defense.”
The Golden Hawks led 12-0 after three quarters, thanks to the combo of quarterback Nahum Kipi and receiver Clyde Enos who connected for a pair of touchdowns. Kipi finished 13-for-24 with 143 yards and an interception while Enos hauled in four catches for 54 yards.
“It feels good. We’re happy we took a ‘W’ home,” Kipi said afterwards. “We just gotta keep working, fix our mistakes.”
Aiea cut into the lead when Ty Matsunami delivered a 25-yard strike to Fabian Bautista with 10:58 to go in the fourth quarter.
The rest of the quarter felt like a game of hot potato, with teams exchanging possessions often. Nanakuli made its final stop when they sacked Matsunami at Aiea’s 20 with Na Alii facing fourth-and-2 with 1:12 left. It’s the Golden Hawks’ first win since a 22-6 victory over Kalani in 2015, a season in which Nanakuli went 7-2 as a member of the OIA’s second division. The school made the jump to Division I last year and remains there this season.
“It’s definitely a morale booster, especially at the varsity level,” Watson said. “Our JV has gotten some wins but it shows our kids that with the right work ethic, attitude and mind-set, we can get stuff done. I think tonight was a great example of that.”
After Saturday’s win, the understandably elated Golden Hawks faced their fan section and proudly belted their alma mater.
Then they ran to their team bus in excitement, knowing that the next streak they’ll be playing for is a winning one.
“I love that this can illustrate to the kids that we can compete. That’s one of the biggest things that we’ve been trying to teach this offseason — teaching our student-athletes to be competitors,” Watson said. “We gotta compete and we cannot be OK with losing. It has to suck, it has to be sour, and I’m glad they got into that mind-set. They’ll enjoy tonight’s win.
“It was definitely a big win. Big win for Nanakuli.”
Only caught the end of their alma mater, but congrats to Nanakuli on their first win since 2015, a 12-7 nail-biter over Aiea on the road. pic.twitter.com/UspWbDJ4ry
— Christian Shimabuku (@c_shimabuku) August 13, 2017