OIA RED EAST
Castle loses but honors lineman who died
There were tears at the start, and tears again at the end.
And as the Castle Knights walked to the bus waiting to take them back to Kaneohe, the numbers on the scoreboard mattered little.
A maroon No. 66 on a gold helmet meant everything.
Playing through the pain of a loss of a friend and teammate, the Knights decided to go on with their game at Kahuku last night. Although the Knights eventually fell 34-15 to the Red Raiders, simply playing was, perhaps, tribute enough.
"This game is so insignificant. It's just a game," Castle coach Nelson Maeda said. "When it comes to that point, everything else is insignificant."
Patrick Kapahu, a senior lineman for the Knights, died Thursday from injuries suffered in a skateboarding accident on Wednesday night.
"It's just a tragic loss," Castle athletic director Richard Haru said. "Patrick was just a great young man. He had a bright future ahead of him. It's just tough to find any words."
Castle's pregame preparations served as an emotional dedication to Kapahu.
As the final second ticked off the clock in the Castle junior varsity's 18-2 victory, the varsity squad marched slowly onto the field. Front and center of the pack were Bryson Ukauka and Scott Keiter-Charles, two of Kapahu's senior classmates, holding his gold No. 66 helmet aloft.
With the helmet still held high, the JV and varsity players and coaches gathered and knelt in front of the Knights sideline for a pregame prayer before the varsity Knights began their warm-ups.
"Castle High School lost one of its own today," principal Meredith Maeda said in asking the crowd for a moment of silence prior to kickoff.
Players and cheerleaders fought back tears through a somber rendition of the school's alma mater and Kapahu's brother, Jon, carried his helmet and jersey to midfield with the team captains for the coin flip, while his older sisters Ashley and Leah stood with the team on the sideline.
"We all decided to come out and play, come out and try our best," Ukauka said after the game. "I think that's what Pat wanted us to do, give our all. We just didn't come out on top."
"It's such a tragedy that these guys have been trying to deal with," Nelson Maeda said. "It's amazing they were even able to play this game. But they met as a team and they made a decision to go ahead and do it. It gave them something to focus on."
Kahuku head coach Reggie Torres complimented Castle on its effort and said the Red Raiders could relate to the emotions on the Castle sideline as the North Shore community had mourned the losses of teenagers killed in auto accidents this summer.
Once the game started, Castle (3-4, 3-2) stayed with Kahuku (5-1, 4-1) most of the way before the Red Raiders running game wore down an already weary Castle defense.
Even with leading rusher Lehi Aumua sidelined with a back injury, Kahuku ran for 316 yards, while attempting just four passes.
Junior Mataafa ran for 97 yards, while Kaliki Unga picked up 93, all in the second half. Quarterback Richard Torres ran for 54 yards and two touchdowns.
Kahuku closes the regular season Friday at home against Moanalua, with a win securing the conference's top seed in the OIA Red playoffs. Castle hosts Farrington, needing a win to secure a first-round bye.