HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
MIKE BURLEY / MBURLEY@STARBULLETIN.COM
Nainoa Haitsuka of Castle was tackled by Kaimuki's Andrew Save last night at Roosevelt. Castle won 19-14.
Sablan’s late interception lifts Castle past Kaimuki
Kawehi Sablan proved just how fast fortunes can change in football.
The Castle linebacker picked off a Nainoa Hiapo pass with 3:30 left in the fourth quarter and returned it for the go-ahead touchdown, lifting the No. 10 Knights to a 19-14 victory over Kaimuki at Roosevelt's Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium last night.
Castle's late-game victory spoiled Kaimuki's return to the Oahu Interscholastic Association's Red Division.
"I just read it and broke in front of the ball," said Sablan, a senior two-way player. "Feels good, but I give all the credit to my teammates. We never gave up."
Kaimuki dominated the OIA White Division last year with stifling defense. The Bulldogs were out to prove they could do the same in their first OIA Red game since 2005, and nearly succeeded. Momentum was on their side midway through the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs forced a safety on Castle's Garrett Paredes with 4:29 left, putting them up 14-13.
They got the ball back on the free kick and looked to be in solid position to escape with a win until Sablan's game-breaking play at midfield. He sprinted down the left sideline and raised the ball in the air in triumph as he crossed the goal line.
"That was a big play. Their defense is fabulous," Castle coach Nelson Maeda said. "It's what we expected from Kaimuki, seeing them play. We couldn't generate any offense at all. Our defense played tremendous."
Despite producing only 87 yards of total offense, Castle extended its winning streak over Kaimuki to five games and improved to 2-0 overall for the first time since 2000. More important, the Knights matched East foes Farrington and Kahuku at 1-0 in league play. Kaimuki fell to 1-1 and 0-1 in the OIA Red.
Kaimuki may have paid a terrible price in the loss. Justin Paderes, the OIA White's leading rusher last season, had to be carried off the field by teammates with 7 minutes left in the game and appeared to have a severely hurt leg.
With 1 second before halftime, Hiapo swung a lateral pass to 6-foot-3, 270-pound receiver Desmond Tautofi. Tautofi shuffled his feet -- losing a shoe in the process -- and fired the ball across the field to Chris Fiamate, who broke a tackle at the 2-yard line and dove into the end zone to give the Bulldogs a 12-0 lead heading into halftime.
But it didn't last. On Kaimuki's second possession of the second half, the Bulldogs punter's kick hit the upback and deflected into the hands of Castle's Ryan Ramirez, who returned it to the 4. Jaysen Ferreira quickly punched through for the Knights' first score.
Then, to end the third period, Paredes ran the ball 34 yards on a fake punt to the Kaimuki 12, leading to a quick touchdown. Blake Rapozo found Shaydon Kehano to open the fourth for a 13-12 lead.
"Our defense played great the whole game," second-year Kaimuki coach Darren Johnson said. "We caught two bad breaks and paid for it."
At Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium
|Castle (1-0, 2-0)
|Kaimuki (0-1, 1-1)
Kaim--Justin Paderes 4 run (kick failed)
Kaim--Chris Fiamate 30 pass from Desmond Tautofi (pass failed)
Cas--Jaysen Ferreira 7 run (run failed)
Cas--Shaydon Kehano 12 pass from Blake Rapozo (Derek Hillegass kick)
Cas--Kawehi Sablan 48 interception return (pass failed)
RUSHING--Castle: Garrett Paredes 6-39, Ferreira 2-21, Kevin Aipa Jr. 1-20, Rapozo 2-2, Mitchell Lum 1-0, Trayce Martinez 2-(-17), Team 1-(-29). Kaimuki: Paderes 16-35, Tevita Aholelei 7-29, Keola Kiko-Kahawai 1-(-1), Nicholas Lino 1-(-3), Nainoa Hiapo 6-(-5).
PASSING--Castle: Rapozo 9-16-0-51. Kaimuki: Hiapo 7-26-3-57, Tautofi 1-1-0-30.
RECEIVING--Castle: Kehano 2-37, Martinez 2-9, Lowen Rogers 2-(-7) Paredes 1-8, Nainoa Haitsuka 1-5, Lum 1-(-1). Kaimuki: Fiamate 3-40, Andrew Save 3-17, Tautofi 1-20, Trendt Marsom 1-10.
Junior varsity--Castle 20, Kaimuki 0