It was a gritty effort by the small band of Kaiser Cougars, but the Waianae Seariders were back to playing physical, ground-and-pound football on Friday night.
It started with an opportunistic defense — Tytyn Kahooilihala‘s fumble recovery in the end zone just two snaps into the contest — and kept rolling with a bulldozing ground attack.
It was fitting, in many ways, that Waianae’s leading rusher stopped short of breaking a school record. Rico Rosario piled up 190 yards on just 14 carries, scoring two touchdowns in his team’s 49-6 victory at Raymond Torii Field. It was a matter of will for the Seariders in the trenches, bringing full frontal force again and again until the two-way Cougars wore down. He ran behind a group that includes LT Onesimus Clarke (6-foot-5, 310 pounds), LG John McFall (6-0, 250), C Wilson Kerisano (6-0, 285), RG David Hernandez (5-10, 230) and RT Andrew Paese (6-1, 280). As a team, Waianae rushed for 295 yards on 38 attempts.
“Rico ran hard and he broke some tackles. I’m proud of him,” Waianae coach Walter Young said.
With a compact 5-9, 200-pound frame, the junior runs with a very low center of gravity and is a master of yards-after-contact production. He also has a 3.5 cumulative grade-point average.
“It’s just the ability I was born with, how to run the ball. When I run the ball, I’m just being myself,” Rosario said.
With the school record for single-game rushing at 239 yards — set by West Keliikipi in 1997 against Waipahu — Rosario was probably just five or so carries from shattering the mark. Kaiser’s defense began to run out of gas in the second half. By then, it was a 43-point lead and Rosario was done with 8:42 left in the third quarter.
“I feel good that everybody got the ball. We’ve just got to work on little stuff, things that will get us better in the future,” Rosario said.
It’s a much-needed rebound coming off a 28-0 loss at Kahuku last week, the lone blemish on Waianae’s record after five games.
“It’s about how you bounce back from a loss, showing the state that we’ll be seeing (Kahuku) again,” he said.