Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Knights took fans
on wild thrill ride

I don't think I could be a Castle fan. It would be against doctor's orders, too much heart failure, too much stress. I would probably pass out before halftime. Three hours of agony and ecstasy and fun, every play a novella. Every play on edge.

So this is how the Knights made it to the state championship game. With craziness and excitement, every snap filled with danger and derring-do.

Castle is equally likely to go backward, taking a 10-yard loss, or to break a long, spectacular, unbelievable gain. This is what it would look like if Chad Owens were calling plays.

Its defense gambles, going for turnovers, blitzes, sacks. These Knights will sometimes miss tackles, sliding off in the runner's wake. But when they finally catch you, when someone finally hits you, that ball is often somehow popping out. First down or tackle in the backfield.

Touchdown or turnover.

Everything inches from immortality or disaster.

This looks like the UH game plan -- on steroids, without a conscience, if it drank coffee for 12 hours straight. High risk, high reward, high anxiety, high drama, highlights. This stuff makes June Jones look conservative, or, dare we say it, even sane.

Jones, now he would make a great Castle fan.

This is incredible, this is nuts.

What a thrill ride it has been. But it ended at last, last night, in a blaze of glory even if the score was never really close.

And if they showed every whacky, crazy, unbelievable spectacular highlight from last night's game the sportscast would be 20 minutes long.

But the end of the story is St. Louis, 34-15.

After a two-year hiatus, the crown still fits. In a year in which the state title was up for grabs, St. Louis grabbed it.

Kahuku was too young. Kamehameha still waiting to take that next step. McKinley ran up against triple-overtime.

Kailua was undone in the rain by its bitter rival and then bushwhacked on Kauai. And Waimea still a Cinderella story.

Any one of them could have had this chance.

But on Waialae Avenue, the crown still fits. It says something that St. Louis was still standing when all of it was finally over.

The Crusaders were solid, in the face of Castle's wonderful dementia.

They had highlights of their own, but most of all they earned this win.

St. Louis is champion again, a delicious celebration on a cold, damp night.

They drenched Delbert Tengan, his true baptism as Crusader coach. The ice cubes tumbled over his shoulders and he slicked back his hair, wiping the sweet victory out of his eyes.

Even the final seconds were filled with drama, another scuffle on the seemingly-cursed Aloha Stadium turf. Coaches and officials did the right thing. This time it was not cool.

Tengan and Nelson Maeda shook hands and embraced. At last, the thrill ride was over. The two teams shook hands, as they should have after a game like this, seasons like these.

The Castle fans applauded and sang, lauding this and the season-long effort of their underdog daredevils. None of these fans seemed to have lost consciousness, despite the excitement. But then, the great thrill ride is over now.

At long last, all of Kaneohe can catch its breath.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at

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