Yup, there it is.
A quick scan down the Castle football roster shows 29 names. Not a lot, but it matches the number head coach Nelson Maeda told Hawaii World that he had on the team after what can be termed as the Knights’ astounding 33-32 victory over then-No. 10 Campbell on Saturday at Aloha Stadium.
And, in actuality, Castle (1-1, 1-0 OIA Red) only had 27 players available for the game because two were injured, Maeda said.
Maeda didn’t call the win “eye-popping” like in the headline or “astounding” like in the first paragraph, but he did call it “monumental.”
The Sabers, after all, came one win away from qualifying for the state tournament a year ago and finished fourth in the 14-team OIA Division I. Beating them this year, even if it turns out that the Sabers are not the powerful team they were a year ago, was no small task. Campbell pounded the Knights 35-13 last season.
The last time Castle beat Campbell was in the 2002 OIA playoffs.
“To beat a team like Campbell with only 27 players suited up is monumental for us,” Maeda said. “It just reinforces what we’re trying to do here — discipline, conditioning, one team. It’s just amazing. It was a spectator’s delight and it must have been a great game to watch on TV (OC 16).”
It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of the senior Willie Ewaliko to junior Jeremy McGoldrick connection on the way to this win.
The fast and elusive McGoldrick — who is just 5 feet 7 and 140 pounds — caught 10 passes for 173 yards, including four touchdown tosses by Ewaliko.
Ewaliko, a senior scrambler and hard-nosed leader, threw the ball 45 times and completed 19 of them for 260 yards. The 5-foot-8, 165-pounder also picked up a key first down with a 12-yard run with less than a minute left to preserve the win.
“Willie is dynamite in a small package,” Maeda said. “He makes things happen and he’s mentally tough. If things go wrong, he moves on to the next play.”
True. You can thwart Ewaliko for a while, but he finds ways to hurt you.
“We were containing Ewaliko pretty well and then we would lose contain and that’s when he hurt us,” Campbell coach Amosa Amosa said. “We get a lead and they (the Knights) would respond with a big play. That gave them the momentum.”
Campbell fell victim, partly due to seven turnovers, including six fumbles.
“We were outplayed and outcoached,” Amosa said. “We have to do a better job taking care of the ball. A lot of those fumbles came when our palyers were fighting for extra yardage and the ball was kind of hanging out. We made a lot of mistakes and a lot of mental mistakes.”
Kalani Scanlen was one of those Castle ball-hawkers, and his fumble recovery led to Castle’s tying touchdown — Ewaliko’s 17-yard strike to McGoldrick with 4:31 remaining in the game. Ewaliko then kicked the extra point for the winning point.
Alaka‘i Ebright-Pitt helped put the win in the books with a fumble recovery on the Sabers’ final possession. Chris Sakuma, Kainalu Moya, Royce Simeona-Townsend and Blayzen Napoleon also had fumble recoveries for Castle, and McGoldrick had an interception.
Simeona-Townsend, Rylan Tangonan and Elijah Villanueva aided in the Knights’ defensive effort with sacks, and Tangonan also had a strip that led to a fumble, and Jordan San Nicolas turned in a strong effort on the defensive line.
Austin Fuga had two interceptions for Campbell (0-2, 0-1 OIA Blue), including one that he ran back 54 yards for a touchdown.
The Sabers held leads of 6-0, 14-13 and 26-19. They took their final lead, 32-26, with 7:42 to go on. Terell Johnson‘s two-point conversion run failed and so Campbell’s lead was just six points instead of eight.
You get the picture about Castle, though. After losing their opener to Windward rival Kailua, 34-24, a week earlier, the Knights didn’t pack it in with just 27 players. Instead, they came up with seven turnovers and fought back with great will, looking a lot like many of Maeda’s teams in the past.
Taylor Bee (four catches for 46 yards) and Moya (three catches for 23 yards) also contributed on offense for Castle.
We pretty much only tacked that on at this time to bring the total number of Knights players mentioned in this article to 12 (44 percent of the total who played).
Castle is at home for a game against Waianae (1-1, 1-0 OIA Red) on Friday. Campbell, which dropped out of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week, visits Mililani (1-0, 1-0 OIA Blue).