Waianae has risen. Early in the football season the
Seariders were in last place in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West
Division standings, having lost its opening league game in addition to two
non-league losses. Then the team came alive in a road game against Mililani on
“We got off to a slow start, but this is a
long season. Hopefully we can stay injury-free and keep our players focused on
performing at their best both on the field and in the classroom,” Waianae coach
Dan Matsumoto said.
“The football competition in Hawaii is
tough. But Waianae is known as a team that will be there at the end of the
season,” Matsumoto added.
The 42-28 victory over Mililani gave Waianae the
confidence that they truly could compete against the better football teams in
Hawaii. At the time Mililani was undefeated with victories over OIA White
Division champion Kaimuki and defending Division II state champion Iolani.
The Seariders proceeded to win three of its next
five regular season league games to barely make it into the OIA playoffs. In
this tourney Waianae suffered two losses.
Next, fate then played a role in Waianae journey
into the HHSAA state championships.
With the opportunity to play for the state title, Waianae
took full advantage. The team secured a 34-16 win over Kealakehe of the Big
Island Interscholastic Federation in the first round game of the state tourney
over to advance into the semifinals
Next up for Waianae in the state tourney was
Mililani, the team which the Seariders beat to lock up its first victory of the
Mililani, the OIA Red Division champion, had won the
second matchup against Waianae 38-28 in the semifinals of the OIA playoffs on
October 29th and appeared to be peaking behind the passing
combination of quarterback Trent McKinney and receiver Hassan Richardson. In
that game, McKinney passed to Richardson for 162 yards and four touchdowns.
In the state semifinals game, Waianae wasted little
time getting an early lead similar to the two prior games. However, unlike the
OIA semifinals game Waianae was able to hold on to that lead the whole game and
not allow Mililani to rebound. Waianae’s offense completely overwhelmed Mililani
with a brilliant rushing performance and a defensive stop in the final seconds. The victory was a great achievement for Waianae
proving that no matter how bad a situation may seem it doesn’t mean that you
have to give.
Living by the example of determination, Waianae now
has the opportunity to win its first state title when they battle Saint Louis
of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu for the Division I title.
The offense is led by Puletua Wilson (88 of 156 for
1429 passing yards and 15 TDs) in addition to the the running back duo of
Jaylen Mitchell (598 rushing yards) and Bryson Panui (583 rushing yards).
Waianae is led by Chavez Kauwalu and Kaeo Alana. Both players say that keeping
the opponent out of the end zone is a challenge that the team is striving to
achieve. “Our goal is to keep any team from scoring on us,” Kauwalu said. “That way we
will always have a chance to win. Once we get our timing then we will be very
Alana added, “No matter what happens in the beginning of the season, we’re still
aiming to win. It won’t be easy, but we have the talent to do well.”