Kalani Simpson

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Warriors from
out of the past

HOW long had it been? You could feel it in the emotion cresting high up in the Aloha Stadium stands, building, building, building, then crashing down onto the field like a wave. How long had it been? How long had they waited? How much did this mean?

How long had it been?

It had been so long there were no longer even memories, for these students, for those who roam the halls of these schools. Only stories of days gone by. Only fables. Only legends that were barely dreams.

Yet somehow they still knew. They still felt it. At the end, it all came washing over them. At the end, all the old feelings came flooding back. Many of them were feeling them for the first time. Yet somehow, deep within themselves, they still knew.

Ancestral memory, it's called.

They knew this feeling.

The Warriors were home again.

How long has it been? Decades. Decades since these two teams were contenders and name brands. These were not Cinderellas. These were old powers come back to life.

How did this happen? How could Kahuku lose? Leilehua won, that's how. These Mules just kept winning, somehow, some way.

Yes, there they were, a team wearing green and yellow and white, for goodness sake. Green and yellow! Where was Saint Louis? Where was Kahuku's big red?

The Mules had done it. Kamehameha had finally vanquished Cal Lee's ghost.

At times it looked like these teams weren't quite sure what to do in a championship game. It's been a while. There were interceptions, back and forth. Penalties, all over the place.

These teams had two of the best backs in the state. Kamehameha rode Jayson Rego like a racehorse. Leilehua used Justin Lawelawe to change things up.

Rego responded with the run of the year, a 79-yarder in which he shrugged off two would-be tacklers in the final 20 yards and tumbled in for the definitive score.

Leilehua kept serving up fade pass after seam pass after hitch pass, straight drop back after straight drop back, to decidedly mixed success.

And the success was less and less mixed as the game went on.

The Mules scored their only touchdown following a screen-gone-bad-gone-good to Lawelawe, who sprinted down the sideline for 33 yards. They then set up shop on the 1 thanks to two consecutive fullback floods, sneaking Lawelawe out of the backfield for easy passes. Kamehameha hadn't known what hit it. But Leilehua never went back to the play.

Lawelawe had three catches for all 54 of his receiving yards on that drive.

At halftime, Kanani Souza, Kamehameha's coach, realized he'd passed too many times in the first half. Two interceptions. The Mule defense was too crafty, too good.

In the second half Souza went with Rego, and he was rewarded. Do what you do best. It was simple, and it worked.

Aaron Nichols' leaping end-zone grab put the game away for Kamehameha. On the Kamehameha side, the stadium bounced.

These two teams were back. But on the Kamehameha side they felt it. It had been a long time. The Warriors were home.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com

E-mail to Sports Desk


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