Staring down the barrel of a possible winless season, Waianae’s football team showed yet again just how much of a backbone it has.
The Seariders celebrated their homecoming by fighting back from deficits of 6-0, 12-6 and 19-15 to beat No. 10 Farrington 28-25 on Saturday night.
“All our kids, they come with that sense of toughness,” Waianae coach Walter Young said after the victory. “They played with a sense of pride tonight all the way to the end.”
It almost didn’t end up so nice.
Farrington’s Chris Afe had Raymond Millare wide open down the left sideline for what looked like a sure TD, but the ball sailed through Millare’s hands. That was with 0:09 showing on the clock. But it wasn’t over. The Waianae defense had to thwart one more passing attempt and they did just that.
A little earlier, Millare’s 34-yard reception with 2:37 to go brought Farrington closer at 28-25. And then the Govs forced the Seariders to punt, setting up the dramatic ending.
“I had it right in my hand, but I was thinking too hard and I dropped it,” Millare said. “We would have gone home with a ‘W.’ ”
Added Farrington coach Daniel Sanchez, “Shoot. He catches the ball, that’s 6. It happens, you know. We’ll continue to get him the ball. He always gives 100 percent. It’s not easy to come to Waianae and get a win. They played a helluva game.”
The Seariders played with the same type of hallmark grittiness that they did in last season’s state Open Division semifinals, when they were heavy underdogs and lost 10-7 to Kahuku.
Eteuati Lui, Elijah Lujan, Kenneth Joseph Jr. and Paul Fano were among the many Seariders who showed their mettle on Saturday night.
Lui ran for 91 tough yards and also scored on a 17-yard pass from Shaydon Lopes that gave the Seariders a big 28-19 edge.
Joseph kicked two extra points, but that was nothing compared to the bull-like running he and Lujan did. They kept the chains moving. Joseph added a huge 35-yard touchdown that was made possible by a large surge forward by the offensive line.
Fano made some big tackles, including one in which he stepped up into the hulking 6-foot-1, 278-pound Afe to stop the Govs on a critical fourth-down situation in Waianae territory late in the first half.
“It was a good win for these kids,” the Seariders’ Young said. “It brings their spirits up. They played hard to the end. Farrington’s a good team. They played hard to the end and it was a battle to the end — and we came out on top. I’m glad the kids didn’t go down from (two first-half mistakes that led to two Govs TDs). They bounced right back. They persevered through it, worked together and came through at the end. Even though we had some mistakes, this and that, they stuck together and they did it.”
The Seariders (1-5, 1-3 OIA Open) finish the season with games at home against No. 6 Kamehameha, No. 3 Punahou and No. 5 Campbell.
“This win means a lot with homecoming and everything,” Joseph said. “We’re going to fight to the last second on the clock.”
Asked about the Seariders’ chances at the playoffs, coach Young said, “I don’t know. I’ll have to look it up.”
Farrington (2-6, 1-3) has games left against No. 1 Saint Louis and No. 2 Kahuku.
“Looking at the standings, we might need some help to get into the postseason now,” Sanchez said.
Added Millare: “We can bounce back the next game. They’re (the Seariders) really tough. This was supposed to be our game. Its their first ‘W.’ Congrats to them.”