They’re not clones by any means, but the Waianae Seariders aren’t a whole lot different from the Farrington Governors at this point.
Both teams, ranked in the Star-Advertiser top 10, are relatively young. Each has a massive number of first-year starters. Farrington lost to an ILH powerhouse, Kamehameha, 24 hours before Waianae took on ILH and state defending champion Saint Louis. Waianae, though, does have more returnees with experience. There just wasn’t much the Seariders could do when Saint Louis’ first-year starting quarterback, Chevan Cordeiro, went to Plan Z.
On several occasions, with his passing options denied, the pin-point passer found gaps and turned them into chunks of yardage during the Crusaders’ 49-7 victory at Raymond Torii Field. On one hand, Waianae’s secondary did a fairly solid job of coverage. Nobody really expected Cordeiro’s instincts and speed to be major factors.
“Yeah, he surprised me a lot,” Waianae All-State defensive end Kana‘i Mauga said. “That touchdown he got in the first quarter, we’d been working on the running-back runs and the passing, so it was a shocker to us.”
That score, on a 16-yard scramble, came after he couldn’t find an open receiver. Later in the first half, Cordeiro added an option keeper for a TD. It wasn’t a dominant play. He lunged just far enough on fourth-and-goal to get the nose of the pigskin across the goal line. But it was also the first time Saint Louis offensive coordinator Ron Lee called the speed option in the game, and now, perhaps every defensive coordinator on Saint Louis’ schedule will have to keep a spy on the senior slinger.
Both Cordeiro and backup Maika Bonner went through their progressions and had little hesitation about their next option by air or land. Meanwhile, the defensive unit protecting Waianae’s end zone showed signs of resistance against the Crusaders. It wasn’t enough to stop Saint Louis, but Mauga, who is lining up all over the field as a senior, knows his young teammates need to persevere.
“It gets really tough. You see the scoreboard and we’re losing, and everybody starts to drop their heads,” said Mauga, who never stopped sprinting from sideline to sideline.
Even during possession changes, he raced on and off the field. He had Waianae’s only takeaway, picking off a Cordeiro pass and returning it deep into the red zone.
“It’s not just my job, but all of us as captains. It’s 100 percent mental. It’s a learning process,” he said. “It’s not about losing. It’s how you bounce back and how you respond to a loss.”
Seariders coach Walter Young doesn’t think twice about scheduling powerhouses in preseason. Last year, it was Kamehameha that came to the Leeward side.
“It’s great learning. That’s why we want to play these teams. You’ll go through some trials and tribulations, and we’ll get better as we go,” the third-year head coach said. “The defense flew around and gave maximum effort. From there, we can teach things. I like our chances. You see all the potential we have. We just have to keep the kids’ spirits up and get better together.”
Saint Louis has been through the rough patches, and now there are experienced returnees at key positions, including the receiving corps. The Crusaders looked like a team in mid-season form. Waianae, like Farrington, is in an experimental lab of sorts as players figure things out.
“Right now, it’s preseason and we’re still trying to get out the bugs. You can see there’s a couple of errors, brain farts in there,” Young said. “Everything that happened, we can learn from it and get better. We’ll evaluate the film and see where we can get better as coaches to help these kids get better are reach their maximum potential.”