Tigers showed off the pride of McKinley

Nelson Pita was pressured all night long by Kahuku defenders and was sacked eight times. Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Nelson Pita was pressured all night long by Kahuku defenders and was sacked eight times. Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Yeah, yeah, you could say McKinley sucks, but it wouldn’t be true.

The Tigers came, they saw and they got blitzed. They left the North Shore on Friday night with their heads held high. No complaining.

They played out of their league, so to speak, and paid the price. Kahuku beat them 78-0. But remember, the scoreboard is only one thing.

The fans never gave up. Aside from a few plays where they looked a bit befuddled, the Tigers players never gave up, either.

In reality, the team that showed up at Carleton Weimer Field had no business being there. It was like an All-Star team against a rag-tag bunch. The Tigers would be way better off playing in Division II for now. There, they could compete.

That’s not a knock on McKinley (0-4, 0-3 Oahu Interscholastic Association Red). Head coach Sam Cantiberos, in his first year, spoke after the game about six starters who were injured or on academic probation. Later on, in a text, he mentioned that he had forgotten about two other starters missing. That makes eight. He talked about a quarterback (Elyjah Badua), a running back/linebacker (Darren Lafaele), a defensive back, and a right guard among the missing.

Cantiberos also talked about building a football culture. That want-to attitude was front and center when one of his (unidentified) assistants was whooping it up early in the game after two solid defensive plays as if the Tigers had just won the Super Bowl.

Cantiberos also intimated that he decided to keep his commitment to the game (with just 27 on the roster) because the players wanted to play. They did not want to forfeit. They wanted to come all the way to Kahuku, no matter the result, and … eventually they got pummeled.

Even Kahuku athletic director Gillian Yamagata was impressed with McKinley’s demeanor and the spirit of the crowd and the band.

“They didn’t have a bad attitude at all,” she said. “And I loved it when their band was fighting playfully against our band.”

When the game was well in hand, one McKinley fan shouted, “We love you Tigers. No matter if you are winning or losing, we’re still together with you.”

The fans are behind the team. And, if you think about it, maybe the tough part is over. Maybe the injured and academically challenged players will be back. It’s not easy to go against No. 1 Mililani (a 73-14 loss) and No. 4 Kahuku.

Well, the schedule does get a bit easier, but not much — No. 9 Waianae, Kaiser, Leilehua and Castle are next.

This is where the McKinley pride will come in the most. This is where, as Cantiberos calls it, “the culture” of football could begin to expand at the school.

The hardest part is likely over.

Against Kahuku, Cantiberos said the players “Had fun, got experience and never gave up.”

That’s at least three positives out of a complete mismatch.


  1. 008 August 29, 2015 3:27 am

    They got to fix the system. McKinley had no business playing Kahuku!

  2. Vibes August 29, 2015 11:52 am

    maybe they didn’t belong out against kahuku but at least they never gave up. They kept their heads up against one of the states best football team. Most teams would have forfeit against a power house like Kahuku. Hats off to McKinley for showing Pride in your school even if you took a big loss. What counts is that You kept a Positive Attitude in this situation that will get you further in life. If someone wants to fix the system so bad like the comment above why don’t you try. From a Red Raider

  3. NSfootball August 29, 2015 1:29 pm

    Hats off to Mckinley they are true warriors and fought with all their might and boisterous fans that support them. Nothing but respect for the tigers.

    Don’t forget that every team once the season begins is playing without a few starters whether it due to injury or academics. Kahuku is the same with their starting QB, 2 offensive lineman and 2 linebackers injured.

  4. warriorsanddolphins August 29, 2015 1:42 pm

    Yes, every team has starters out due to injury or grades. 27 guys and you thought about quitting? Just look at Castle with the same amount of players each week. I think if your’e eight starters suited up the score would still be the same.

  5. Same Ol Same Ol August 29, 2015 1:58 pm

    And don’t forget that Kahuku left their starters well into the 3rd Quarter. Why didn’t they work on their passing game from the 2nd quarter when the game was already out of reach by then?

  6. kapoleistorm August 29, 2015 5:24 pm

    Actually they had a majority of their Defensive starters in till the final whistle.

  7. 88 August 29, 2015 7:49 pm

    @kapoleistorm, did you look at the Kahuku sideline during the game? Kahuku was small in numbers this game. A lot of starters did not suit up.

  8. Greison silva August 30, 2015 6:52 pm

    I am a 17 year old student who plays for the McKinley high school football team and I understand that to many we may not belong here in division one football in Hawaii but we will stay here in division one till our coach says we must leave because coach Sam has instilled in us that winning isn’t everything that character isn’t revealed in football that it’s broken that a true football team is one that doesn’t celebrate when winning but giving thanks for just plain being able to play the sport he has instilled in me and my team that we need to spark this culture as he speaks a culture of not winning but one of respect for others including your coaches parents team and in all everyone one of honesty one of integrity that when nobody is looking you’ll do the right thing loyalty that when things get hard and it seems like something’s better that you’ll stay where you are because it’s where you were put by the grace of god and one of commitment where if you do something that you’ll give it your all no matter what’s happening and no matter the outcome I am thankful to have been able to meet a man and be coached by him this season I am grateful that he wants to yes win but would rather build men that are ready for life in a society where winning a state championship or beating a team by a long stretch doesn’t mean a thing I’m grateful and blessed to say that I am a McKinley tiger who indeed played in that game and am honored to have a coach that never gave up on us even when there was no way of winning thank you and God bless just wanted to let the people know that coach Sam is doing great things here in Hawaii

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