The final numbers in Friday night’s westside matchup between Waianae and Campbell tilted heavily in favor of the visitors from Ewa Beach.
Except where it mattered most.
Campbell generated 306 yards in total offense in the OIA Blue contest at Waianae’s Raymond Torii Field while the Seariders managed 141, including just two in the first half.
The Sabers moved the sticks for 18 first downs to Waianae’s seven with quarterback Krenston Kaipo, the division’s leading passer, throwing for 234 yards to the Seariders’ 32 yards through the air.
But Waianae’s defense, led by linebacker Kanai Mauga, held the Sabers out of the end zone until the fourth quarter. By then, the Seariders had built a controlling lead and broke through with a 27-14 win over the seventh-ranked Sabers.
Mauga finished with 10 tackles, 2 1/2 for losses, returned a fumble for a tie-breaking touchdown and scored on offense in Waianae’s first win of the season after an 0-3 start at home against No. 1 Saint Louis, No. 5 Kapolei and No. 2 Kahuku.
Skyler Kaleiohi sparked the Seariders with a 67-yard punt return to set up Waianae’s first touchdown, a Rico Rosario plunge that snapped a streak of 10 scoreless quarters.
After Mauga’s fumble return gave Waianae a 14-7 lead in the second quarter, the Seariders forced another turnover on Campbell’s next possession with Dayne Evangelista pouncing on a fumble. They protected the lead going into halftime when Mauga stuffed Campbell’s Tyrese Tafai in the backfield on fourth-and-goal at the Waianae 2.
“They did a good job defensively, special teams, they kept us in the game,” Waianae coach Walter Young said. “Then offensively we were able to put some key drives together,but our defense played tough all night. They’re a good Campbell team. Well coached, they’ve got some athletes over there.”
Coming off an All-State junior season, Rosario managed just 1 net yard on 28 attempts his first two games of the season. He found enough space to grind out 93 yards on 18 carries on Friday and scored twice. He showed off his uncanny balance on a 40-yard touchdown run on Waianae’s opening drive of the third quarter, when he broke through the Campbell front, kept his footing through traffic and outran the Sabers to a score that gave Waianae control.
Waianae’s Justin Tacgere completed two of his seven pass attempts, but a 25-yard connection with Sam Freeney set up a scoring drive that ended with Mauga scoring on a 1-yard run on fourth-and-goal.
Campbell sophomore Poki’i Adkins-Kupukaa entered the game coming off of back-to-back triple-digit receiving performances and ended Friday’s game with seven catches for 71 yards. But the Seariders kept him in front of them for most of the night.
Campbell scored its first touchdown on Chanse Hoopai-Tafili’s fumble return on the final play of the first quarter. But Waianae held the Sabers offense out of the end zone until Kaipo hit Vernon Etrata-Daite for a 15-yard touchdown with 9:41 left in the game to account for the final margin.
“We played good first-half defense then we bent in the second half and made some mistakes,” first-year Campbell coach Darren Johnson said. “But it’s early season and I’m optimistic about the boys. They’re slowly trying to make the transition and it’s going to come.”
Campbell is scheduled to face Kaiser on Sept. 1, although the Cougars have yet to play a game this season due to low numbers.
Waianae leaves the west side for the first time this season to take on Moanalua at Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium on Sept. 2.