It always means a little extra when neighbors square off for bragging rights.
That’s perhaps even more true in a time where the OIA’s current division construction has teams from opposite poles of the island squaring off regularly, instead of the traditional focus on East-West regional play.
But Castle and Kailua are, for now, back in the same division, the OIA Red. And that means, for now, a fun annual Windward-side competition. It was renewed Friday night when Kailua headed down the road to Kaneohe.
The Surfriders got the better of this one, a convincing 26-7 road win on a wet homecoming night for the Knights. Kailua’s ground game — bottled up in shutout losses to Farrington and Kapolei the previous two weeks — broke out in a big way, chewing up yardage and clock alike.
Samson Rasay carried it 23 times for 124 yards, quarterback Aaron Mejia was a capable dual threat, and backup power back Chauncy Gonsalves-Bell pounced on Castle’s worn-out defense for 83 more yards on 13 carries.
It avenged a 24-21 home loss to the Knights in the 2016 regular-season finale.
“It means a lot, coming down here and winning the game,” Rasay said. “After a two-game losing streak, it’s good to be back on track.”
Kailua beat Castle for the fifth time in six meetings, which has swung the series lead in the modern era to 25-20 for the Surfriders. At one point a few years ago, there was a “Hammer” perpetual trophy that went to the winner.
However, Kailua coach Joseph Wong, a Surfriders alumnus, downplayed the rivalry after the win while he stood on the Knights’ turf field. He had other things on his mind with his team neck-and-neck with Leilehua and Farrington (all at 3-2 in the Red) for a possible playoff bye.
“You know, I don’t feel that way,” he said when asked if this one meant a little more. “It’s because, we’ve had battles here (with) Kailua when I played there. It’s just the East, the old guys, and the usual suspects on the other side. You look at history, us and Leilehua, we played 50-something times. … We played them so much. Or Farrington, and Waianae. We played them in some tough games. So Castle, that’s just the old East-West. Whoever’s in that division, I feel they’re a rival. So they are, but I’m not going to measure it bigger than a Leilehua or a Farrington or a Waianae. We treat them all the same.”
Kailua plays at Leilehua next week then at Mililani (5-0 Red) to wrap up the regular season.
“We just gotta get ready,” Wong said. “Leilehua does a real good job out there. We match up pretty good against them offensively and defensively, and they got a pretty good team. I know Coach (Mark) Kurisu will have them ready.”
Still, the last play of this edition of Kailua-Castle felt like a rivalry moment.
An interception of Knights backup quarterback Makana Smith by Bruddah Spencer-Choy Foo with five minutes and change basically sealed the outcome.
The Surfriders, leading 20-7 on their final clock-killing drive, marched systematically down the field one more time. And they decided to punch it in via Gonsalves-Bell from the 3 as time expired.