Radford’s return to John E. Velasco Stadium didn’t end the way the Rams had hoped.
Then again, being able to host a game on campus was a bit of a victory unto itself.
After losing to Pearl City on Oct. 12, 2013, Radford played its “home” games at Aiea over the next two seasons while the field was renovated. The process was complicated when military debris was uncovered during excavation work to replace the track. The Navy handled the clean-up, the field was re-sodded, a synthetic track installed and the Rams played their first game on the new grass field on Friday in a 34-7 loss to Kaiser.
“It means a lot for the school and lot for the seniors,” Radford coach Lon Passos said. “Past seniors couldn’t have a homecoming and senior night at their home field. This game (had) a little bit more meaning because it’s the first home game in three years, so it’s a little bit harder to take.”
The Rams will indeed celebrate homecoming on campus again on Sept. 2 against Moanalua and play host to No. 1 Kahuku in their last scheduled home game the following week.
Radford fell behind on the first play of the game on Friday when Kaiser struck for a 65-yard touchdown off a double pass. But the Rams defense held off the Cougars with a fumble recovery by Christian Cristobal and Kyle Sudog‘s one-handed interception in the first quarter. They also denied Kaiser a score after the Cougars pounced on a fumble at the Rams 2 in the second quarter,
But Kaiser opened up a 13-0 lead late in the half and pulled away by returning three interceptions for touchdowns in the third quarter.
While the Rams (0-3, 0-2 OIA Blue) continue to work through growing pains in their transition to Division I following last year’s Division II state title, senior Jonah Soakai owns a remarkable distinction as the only Radford player to reach the end zone so far this season — all on kickoff or punt returns.
Soakai returned the opening kickoff against ‘Iolani 85 yards for a touchdown in a 42-6 loss. A week later, he scored on a 74-yard punt return in a 47-6 loss to Castle. He struck again in the third quarter against Kaiser with an 83-yard kickoff return.