The Waialua Bulldogs scored their most points in a game in three years on Saturday night in a 49-36 back-and-forth battle against Kalaheo at Toshi Nakasone Field.
Waialua instantly came out firing, scoring three touchdowns in the first quarter. Junior WR Kai Hoekstra scored on a 48-yard pass from junior QB Kyler Dicion — the receiver’s first, but not his last touchdown of the night.
Hoekstra praised the Bulldogs’ offensive line for their assistance in his performance, noting “Our O-Line held up this game, which really helped our quarterback get the ball off in time. We’ve been working on that in practice.”
Senior RB Storm Quilinderino was another offensive powerhouse, showing his wheels off in the running game as he added a second touchdown to the scoreboard on a 12-yard rush. Dicion ran in the third score of the first quarter on a 1-yard run.
Despite the Bulldogs’ first-quarter success, their defense couldn’t stop Kalaheo from bouncing back in the second. The Mustangs rattled off 24 straight points before the end of the first half. Kalaheo impact player Jordan Neufeldt — a senior TE/LB hybrid — took numerous snaps at QB, alternating with sophomore Isaiah Akiu as he ran in three of the Mustangs’ touchdowns on runs of 5, 1 and 1 yards. Senior kicker Kainoa Ferguson launched a 26-yard field goal to put the Mustangs over the top in the second quarter.
Waialua’s Hoekstra took control of the third quarter, catching a 38-yard pass from Dicion less than two minutes into the half and then an 8-yard pass to increase the Bulldogs’ lead.
“We capitalized on their slower CBs,” Hoekstra explained.
Following a three-minute drive by the Mustangs, Waialua’s defense held Kalaheo to a field goal late in the third quarter. Head coach Lincoln Barit explained the Bulldogs’ practices contributed to their improved defensive performance in the second half.
“We did tackling drills in practice,” Barit said. “We lacked on the tackling drills because of our numbers, we didn’t want anyone getting hurt. I said we couldn’t do that because the last two games we had poor tackling. I told the coaches the whole week we’re going to tackle more and it really paid off.”
Quilinderino added a monstrous 72-yard touchdown run to the scoreboard in the beginning of the fourth quarter to push the Bulldogs well past the Mustangs, despite the alternating scores.
After the defense held Kalaheo to another field goal, junior DB Dylan Yadao secured the game’s momentum in Waialua’s favor by intercepting a pass from Akiu and running it back for a 62-yard TD. Less than a minute later, Yadao picked off another Kalaheo pass, ensuring the Mustangs couldn’t catch up with seven minutes left in the game.
“It [the interceptions] shifted everything,” Yadao said. “It was a close game and I gotta thank everyone from my team. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think that would have happened. I’m going to celebrate this tonight, but I want to look forward to the next game.”
Following Yadao’s interceptions, Waialua junior kicker Kayde Mahuka nailed a 38-yard field goal and Mustangs’ Neufeldt finished the game with a 9-yard scoring run.
The Bulldogs outlasted multiple lead changes in a thriller against the Mustangs and Barit has full faith in his team as they prepare to challenge undefeated Kaiser next week.
“We’re just going to show up next week and play Bulldog football. These boys can do it. We had a lot of games get away from us that we should have won,” Barit said. “We should be 6-0 now, but in any given day, anybody can be good. I’m just happy for the boys.”