HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Stant wins coaching debut
Protecting a two-point lead early in the fourth quarter, Kamehameha wouldn't give Castle a chance to mount a dramatic comeback.
A 20-play drive that covered 85 yards and took more than 10 minutes off the clock sealed the Warriors' season-opening 21-12 interleague win over the Knights last night at Castle's field in Kaneohe.
The Warriors capped the methodical march with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Mike Hoke to Popo Walker and gave David Stant a win in his debut as Kamehameha's head coach.
"I've been in three national championships (in Japan) and I was more nervous tonight than I was then," Stant said.
The Warriors converted on a third and 15 early in the drive and on two fourth-down situations to extend the drive and sap the energy and momentum from Castle, which dropped its second straight game to a ranked opponent to start the season.
But after getting routed at Mililani the week before, Castle coach Nelson Maeda saw his team take some positive strides.
"I think we're moving in the right direction, but Kamehameha did an outstanding job," Maeda said. "We got a little winded at the end; that drive took all of the air out."
Perhaps more significant than the final score, Castle lost two starters for the season in receiver Chauncey Kruse (broken leg) and linebacker Mitchell Lum (broken arm) with the start of the OIA Red East schedule a week away.
The Knights had a short week of preparation as the coaching staff decided to cancel practice last Tuesday as a disciplinary measure for the team.
"We're trying to get the big picture and I think it helped with our team building and that's important if we're going to have success down the road," Maeda said.
"(Tuesday) was an important day, but we felt a message had to be sent to our team that we're going to build a team."
Kamehameha ground out the win led by running backs Pono Perez (69 yards) and Truman Chun (51), both of whom scored touchdowns for the Warriors.
For his part, Stant praised the effort of his players and assistant coaches, while admitting he has some work to do as a head coach.
"The performance of the players and the staff was great. I just have to make sure I can prepare them," Stant said.
"I like that we fought in the second half. We came out jittery in the first half, we didn't play the way we can. In the second half the defensive coaches did a great job making adjustments."
After fielding a short punt, Kamehameha started its first drive at the Castle 39 and scored six plays later on Chun's 8-yard run up the middle.
Castle fumbled the ball away at the Kamehameha 12, but got its running game going on its next possession and got on the scoreboard when Thomas Ilae scored on a 1-yard keeper around the right side.
Kamehameha struck back when Perez weaved through the Castle defense for a 48-yard touchdown run.
Castle answered as a 44-yard completion from Blake Rapozo to Ilae set up a 13-yard TD connection from Rapozo to Breydan Torres with 33 seconds left in the first half.
The Knights missed the extra point for a second time and the score remained at 14-12 at the break.
It looked like the field-position battle might shift in Castle's favor in the fourth quarter when a 62-yard punt rolled dead at the Kamehameha 15 with 10:43 left.
But the Warriors got a break on third and 15 from their own 10 when Kepo'o Noa came down with a tipped pass for a 21-yard completion. A personal foul penalty also contributed to the march that finally ended with a touchdown with 19 seconds left.