Israel Pakele had a breakout game for Castle in a regular-season ending 24-21 victory over Windward rival Kailua on Saturday night.
For Kailua, defensive end Christian Mejia had another one of many fantastic outings. Twice, he broke through the line to block field goals, among other highlights.
Let’s talk about Pakele first. He got some great blocking up front, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He hit the holes quickly and when he ran into the opposition, he made it difficult for the Surfriders to bring him down.
Pakele, a senior, carried the ball 18 times for 149 yards, with touchdown runs of 30 and 14. Those two scores gave the Knights (4-4, 3-4 OIA Red) a 14-0 lead.
“If there was a game ball to be given, it would definitely go to (Pakele),” Castle head coach Nelson Maeda said. “He ran hard tonight. He provided a running game and some consistency to the offense and he doubled as a linebacker. He’s also a kicker and a multi-purpose player for us.”
Mejia and other Surfriders (most notably quarterback Mark Lagazo, who rushed for 112 yards and two TDs and passed for another TD) nearly willed their team to a comeback win.
Just before halftime, when Castle led 7-0, Mejia blocked Cheyden Costa‘a 36-yard field goal try. On the Knights’ first possession of the second half, Mejia did it again, flying in to knock down Costa’s 30-yard field goal attempt.
During Kailua’s first scoring drive (while trailing 21-0) Mejia was brought in to play tight end, and he was put in motion several times. Whenever the snap came to Lagazo or a handoff was made to another runner, those players immediately followed Mejia, who made holes on the left and right — and, on Lagazo’s 4-yard TD — a hole up the middle.
With 9:02 left in the game, Mejia jumped up in the front middle of the end zone with two defenders draped on him to snare a 15-yard touchdown pass from Lagazo to pull Kailua closer at 21-14.
“He works his ass off,” Surfriders head coach Joe Wong said. “That’s the reason why things happen for him. He’s a great kid and always puts in the extra work. I think they (the players) are bummed, but there’s still a lot of football left. That’s how it goes. We can still fight another day.”
Later, with a 24-21 deficit, Kailua’s last-gasp chance for the win with 10 seconds left — a Lagazo pass into the end zone — ended on the Knights’ Blaize Rickard‘s second interception of the night.
Kailua (3-4, 3-4), the No. 6 seed in the Red, will play Waianae, the No. 3 seed in the Blue, next week in the first round of the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I playoffs. The Seariders ended the Surfriders’ season a year ago, 37-22, in the OIA second round.
“Yeah, we’re going down there again” Wong said. “It’s going to be a tough one. The history with Waianae is there, and everybody knows what kind of game it’s going to be when the two of us get together. We’ll slug it out and see who is standing in the end.”
Maeda’s Knights moved up to the OIA Red’s No. 5 seed with the win and will play at Moanalua, the No. 4 seed in the Blue, in the OIA first round.
“This (the win) is great for us because it gives us momentum going into the playoffs and a boost of confidence after beating a very good Kailua team,” Maeda said. “They beat Mililani, which was an eye-opener for everybody. This is a great win for us. It’s the difference between traveling (all the way) to Waianae or going to Moanalua. I think we’ll take the shortest trip.”
Castle and Kailua need one more win to clinch a berth in the state tournament.
The four OIA D-I first-round playoff winners next week will get a spot at states. A quarterfinal win in two weeks, when the four top seeds with byes get into playoff action, locks up a berth in the state tournament’s inaugural Open division. Quarterfinal losers go to the D-I states.