After Kailua intercepted Na Alii quarterback Kayson Castillo on its own 1-yard line with eight seconds left, the coast was clear for the Surfriders to pick up their second win of the season on Friday night at Alex Kane Stadium.
Until it wasn’t.
On the very next play, the Surfriders fumbled on a quarterback sneak, giving Aiea the ball back at the Kailua 5 with three seconds left. Kailua needed one final stand from its defense, and after Castillo’s pass sailed incomplete at the back of the end zone as time expired, the Surfriders finally claimed victory in a 17-14 comeback win.
It’s been that kind of year for the Surfriders, coach Joe Wong admitted afterward. At the same time, he’ll gladly take the win.
“It’s been a long, frustrating season,” he said. “Hopefully they can build off of this and end the season right with Waipahu.”
The Surfriders, who trailed 14-3 late in the first half, improved to 2-7 overall on the year after an especially gritty effort on defense against a pass-happy Aiea squad that dropped to 2-5-1.
“There’s a lot of points and plays we left out there on the field but these guys continue to plug away and play,” Wong said. “Our defense has been stellar the whole year. They played an unreal game and they played together.”
Following a scoreless first quarter, Castillo hit Dylan Soberano and Fabian Bautista for touchdowns, with a Maka Roberts 33-yard field goal coming in between the two scores.
After Kailua’s Ha’aheo Tarvis-Moku picked off Castillo and returned the interception to the Aiea 25 with 13 seconds left in the half, Surfriders quarterback Kaniala Williams found Raynen Ho-Mook for a 21-yard gain with three seconds left. Kailua decided not to kick it after a timeout, and Williams rewarded the gutsy playcalling with a 4-yard rush to trim the deficit to 14-10 heading into the break.
“I just felt that where we were at the angle and what we had with our quarterback, I felt that we had something there that was big for us,” Wong said of the risk. “Damned if I do, damned if I don’t, you know? That was the difference in the game right there — three points. And we needed them.”
Brian-Allen Kamanu gave Kailua its first lead of the game after a 6-yard rushing touchdown with 1:24 left in the third quarter.
From there, the Surfriders defense never faltered despite giving up 242 yards to Castillo on 15-of-28 passing, countering the big plays with three interceptions.
“Tonight, they bent a lot but they didn’t break,” Wong said of his defense. “When we needed them the most, they finished at the end.”
If it weren’t for a 20-14 overtime loss to Leilehua on Aug. 10 and a 19-0 shutout at the hands of Radford on Aug. 31, the Surfriders could have been playing for seeding instead of just pride in the team’s regular season finale against Waipahu on Oct. 12.
Despite being out of playoff contention, Kailua has an opportunity to finish strong, as Wong alluded to earlier. Although the team is not where it wants to be in year one of the new statewide format, Wong knows his team is capable of more in the future.
“I knew they could do it as long as they do their job,” Wong said of the team’s victory on Friday night. “Everybody has to do what they’re supposed to do and not what they want to do. When they do it, they can play with the best of them.”