The fine line: normal it was not

Mililani linebacker/running back was a hugely valuable part of a 24-13 win over Baldwin on Friday. (photo: Rodney Yap)

It wasn’t a normal weekend.

By normal, which means my normal (which is far from the normal of most people). Apparently, there are a lot of people who don’t have their birth certificates and social security cards on hand. That can be a pain in the okole nowadays because you need both to renew your driver’s license.

For me, that meant a week’s worth of standing in lines, plus getting a correction to change-of-name papers that I’d missed 13 years ago after moving back to Oahu from the Big Island.

In other words, find your vital papers and store them close by. Or risk a lot of time wasted. That meant, for me, no dream trip back to the Kona Coast. The stars lined up perfectly for anyone who lived there and covered prep sports for as long as I did (eight years). State-tournament football games at Kealakehe and Konawaena on back-to-back nights? With a good Kealakehe team against a very good Farrington team, and a Cinderella Nanakuli squad against a Konawaena aerial circus?

It was too good to be true. And I missed it. (But at least now I have a temporary driver’s license and don’t have to fret over that anymore.)

We covered the games (Jason Kaneshiro) well, no doubt. But I’ll have to wait for the video highlights for a visual. Aside from watching some of the second half online, I didn’t get my fill of visual for the two games. Can you imagine, losing a game on a sack (safety) in the end zone due to intentional grounding? That’s a heckuva way to lose a game and see title hopes pass. Konawaena’s amazing season shot down by the Golden Hawks. One team’s sorrow is another team’s ecstasy. The Nanakuli legend grows with another comeback win.

I can’t say I’m surprised that Farrington beat Kealakehe. The Waveriders hadn’t really developed a consistent passing game to take the heat off its prodigious ground-and-pound attack. They got their points, but couldn’t sustain possession enough to keep Farrington’s dynamite combo of Abraham Silva and Tyler Taumua off the field.

By the fourth quarter, Bleed Maroon drove through Kealakehe’s defense with little resistance. The Bamboolas had done their job.

There was another surprise, though I can’t say it was shocking. Mililani coach Rod York turned to Dayton Furuta in the second half of their come-from-behind win over Baldwin. Furuta, who York calls his “quarterback” on defense, became a major weapon as a running back with 23 carries for 118 yards. The Trojans, an aerial show if there ever was one, simply went to the offset-I set and barreled through Baldwin’s normally stout defense with regularity.

Mililani linebacker/running back was a hugely valuable part of a 24-13 win over Baldwin on Friday. (photo: Rodney Yap)

The turning point came earlier, though, with Baldwin churning out chunks of yardage and driving near the red zone. Dakota Turner stripped the ball from Baldwin quarterback Keelan Ewaliko, returned it 69 yards and set up a touchdown that gave Mililani the lead. If not for Turner’s opportunistic play, Mililani could’ve fallen behind by 10 points in the third quarter.

But sustaining that lead was crucial, and in a pleasantly odd way for the Trojans, Furuta seemed to be just as strong at the finish. Instead of chasing Ewaliko, a great playmaker, from sideline to sideline as a linebacker, he put a ton of energy into his ball-carrying duties, protecting the ball and driving piles backward.

I imagined Furuta in this role before, but I really didn’t know if York was willing to sacrifice one side of Furuta’s game for another. it was a risk worth taking, obviously.

That’s the plus of being a defensive coordinator — and former defensive lineman — turned head coach. Turned offensive coordinator. There’s a sense of balance, a real sense of containing risk. It was the right move.

At Lihue, where Newell’s Shearwater bird dominates the landscape by merely flying into towering light posts day or night, Radford pulled off a thrilling 22-21 win over host Kauai. I’ve been to Vidinha Stadium in recent years and was told that these fragile winged creatures do, in fact, fly into the posts even in the light of day. Often, they survive thanks to a crew of volunteers who man their stations and pluck the poor birdies off the ground after these incidents. They’re woozy and usually get back to normal, then tell their buddies to watch out for the light posts. Maybe.

As for the Rams and Red Raiders, I hope there’s video out there for us fans to see. There were fans of both teams who were unhappy with the seeding. Radford had been seeded fifth out of six teams after winning the OIA White, while Kauai was fourth.

I spent Saturday afternoon doing my assignment at the UH-Boise State game, a.k.a. quiet time at Halawa library. It was actually not completely silent there. Fans wanted to get into the game. It’s just that the empty seats were too hard to ignore. The hardy fans who were there went nuts after Mike Edwards returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, looking much like Saint Louis junior speedster Devan Stubblefield.

Then it was, well, a long drought until UH scored again with 5-plus minutes left. I got to talk with a number of fans in the sky-high seats of the yellow section. People up there were not happy, but they watched with focus and concentration. They were determined in their demeanor. There were a few pom-pom waving fanatics, but mostly, it was people who just want to see the Warriors succeed.

Nobody I interviewed was sarcastic. Not even close. They were hopeful. They couldn’t leave early like other fans.

One modest lady, who declined to be identified, put it like this: “We just want to see them do good.”

True fans. Not like those of us who have had a hard time watching the Lakers since Magic Johnson retired. Really. It hasn’t been Showtime since that era, even through the titles (thank you, Shaqtus) and brilliance (Kobe).

But with Mr. Seven-seconds-or-less now in charge (Mike D’Antoni), I’m grinning. And the fact that he wants Nate McMillan on his staff is even better. Why not have the best of both worlds?

No Phil, no problem. We can only hope. What a strange weekend.

Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser


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