Castle tops Kailua, wins OIA football title, 25-0
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
|Castle's Ikaika Ho returned a blocked field-goal attempt for a touchdown. Kailua blocked Castle's attempt, but Ho scooped up the ball and ran 26 yards for a TD.
Eugene Tanner The Honolulu Advertiser
For last night, the Knights became kings of the O'ahu Interscholastic Association with a disbelieving 25-0 win against long-time Windward rival Kailua at Aloha Stadium.
It is the first league championship for Castle in more than half a century. Its last title was so long ago (1945), the school was then called Ben Parker, now an elementary school in Kane'ohe.
"Castle never won a championship before," Castle defensive end Soli Lefiti said. "It feels great to make history for Castle."
At the same time, it made history out of Kailua.
Castle (8-4), ranked sixth in The Advertiser Top 10, will play Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Hawai'i Prep (8-3) in a quarterfinal of the Chevron State Football Championships on Friday at the stadium. The No. 3-ranked Surfriders (9-2) will play Kaua'i Interscholastic Federation champion and No. 5 Waimea (7-1) at Vidinha Stadium in Lihu'e, where Kailua lost to Waimea in a 1999 quarterfinal.
The Knights avenged a 20-0 regular-season loss to Kailua, as well as a 13-7 defeat to the Surfriders in last year's co-championship game.
But mostly, the Knights overcame Kailua's size advantage and the graduation of all-star quarterback Joel Botelho.
"There was a lot of talk going around, a lot of no respect toward us," Castle coach Nelson Maeda said. "You know, 'little man can't, Castle's kind of small.' This and this and this. We just bit our tongue and tried to focus our energy into this game.
"A lot of people said Botelho's gone, this and this and this, but we just rolled up our sleeves and went to work."
The Knights' win came in bizarre fashion. They scored every which way, except by an offensive touchdown. They only managed 64 yards on offense, all by rushing. The wet weather limited the Knights to just two pass attempts, both incomplete.
"Our game plan was to run the clock out," Castle quarterback Jacob Ramos said.
The sign of things to come came early for Kailua, which got 55 yards on a screen pass from Ranson Kepa to Kekoa Sua-Brown to the Castle 15 on its opening series of the game. But on the next play, Kepa fumbled the slippery ball and Blaze Soares recovered at the Castle 18.
"It affected us every way possible," Kailua coach Darren Johnson said of the weather. "We fumbled the ball and they converted every turnover."
After a scoreless first quarter, Castle broke the deadlock on a Jared Suzui's 82-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter. He had trouble catching the ball, moved rather carefully on the wet surface to the left sideline before hydroplaning to the end zone with 3:32 left in the half. Ethan Gonsalves PAT made it 7-0.
On Kailua's next series, the Castle defense scored when Antone Watanabe returned an interception 21 yards with 2:09 left in the half. Suzui ran in the two-point conversion to make it 15-0 at the half.
Things got really bizarre in the third quarter, when Keoki McCabe blocked Gonsalves' 44-yard field-goal attempt. The loose ball ended up with holder Ikaika Ho, who scrambled his way to the end zone for a 26-yard return with 7:50 left in the third quarter.
Castle sealed its scoring on Gonsalves' 27-yard field goal with 2:24 left.
But the story was Castle's defense. Although small in comparison to Kailua's huge offensive line, the Knights used their quickness to nail Kailua's runners in the backfield. Running back Nathan Leaver, who averaged 7.6 yards per carry during the season, had 17 on eight rushes. Kailua had just 39 yards rushing and 164 total.
"We were very concerned with their offensive fire power and we wanted to keep their offensive unit off the field," Maeda said. "But our defense played outstanding."
Linebackers like Cory Daniel and Elde Agcaoili slipped through Kailua's line to make tackles. Lefiti batted two passes down.
And Castle should have known it was going to be its night when Daniel's mother, Leina Daniel, won the car at halftime.
Notes: Kahuku defeated Kaimuki, 21-12, to capture the junior varsity championship last night ...Today's third-place game between Farrington and McKinley at Roosevelt will start at 5 p.m. A different time was listed previously. The winner will play Maui Interscholastic League champion Baldwin at War Memorial Stadium on Friday in a quarterfinal of the Chevron State Football Championships. The loser will play the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion, the winner of tonight's St. Louis-Kamehameha game.
CASTLE 0 15 7 3 25
KAILUA 0 0 0 0 0
- CastJared Suzui 82 punt return (Ethan Gonsalves kick)
- CastAntone Watanabe 21 interception return (Suzui run)
- CastIkaika Ho 26 blocked field goal return (Gonsalves kick)
- CastFG Gonsalves 27
RUSHINGCastle: Jacob Ramos 11-4, Kawika Sebay 27-68, Suzui 1-(minus 5), Louis Mansanas Jr. 2-(minus 4), Elde Agcaoili 1-1. Kailua: Ranson Kepa 7-(minus 1), Nathan Leaver 8-17, Bronson Kamaka 5-25, Kealii Kalahiki 3-6, David Kaihenui 1-(minus 8).
PASSINGCastle: Ramos 0-2-00. Kailua: Kepa 11-26-2125, Kealii 0-1-00.
RECEIVINGKailua: Kekoa Sua-Brown 2-63, Leaver 1-(minus 3), Kaihenui 4-52, Brad Ching 1-11, Kalahiki 3-2.