Kaiser coach Tim Seaman said his Cougars were thin on the offensive line to start the season.
His defensive line was quite the opposite.
Kaiser sacked Aiea quarterback Kayson Castillo 10 times and scored all of its points on defense and special teams in a 21-7 win over Na Alii on Friday night in the season opener at Kaiser Stadium.
Ethan Domen recovered a punt he blocked in the end zone for a score and added a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown to help Kaiser snap a 12-game winless streak against Aiea with its first win over Na Alii since 1996.
“We’re not all that big up front, but we’ve got guys that can run,” Seaman said. “When you have guys that can run, good things can happen.”
Seniors Cavin Lime and Brannon Tanaka had three sacks and Joseph Chin added two, including a strip sack that was picked up by Cole Cadinha and returned 52 yards for a TD.
“The D-line, they grind every day. We run extra after practice,” Lime said. “Everybody came to play today.”
Aiea, which was also thin on its offensive line, had three plays all go for negative yardage to start the game.
Na Alii punted from inside their 10 when Domen came flying through to not only block the kick, but recover it for a TD.
Na Alii had a chance to take the lead in the third quarter in a 7-7 game and had the ball first-and-goal at the 1. After a tackle for loss by Lime pushed Aiea back to the 6, Domen stepped in front of a Castillo pass and picked it off in the end zone, taking it all the way back the other way.
“We were playing zone and I just basically sit back and I read the quarterback,” Domen said. “Quarterback likes to throw to No. 12. That’s his key guy and he ran a slant and I was like ‘OK, this is coming to me. This is my ball.’ I said I’m going to the house.”
Kaiser added another defensive score at the end of the third quarter to go up 21-7 and Aiea coach Wendell Say pulled Castillo early in the fourth quarter after he took a big hit from Lime on a fourth-and-1 carry and was stopped short.
“The main thing is his composure under pressure was pretty good considering he was getting hit on every play,” Say said. “I didn’t want to get him hurt. He worked hard in the offseason, bulked up, and that’s going to help us because he took a lot of shots.”
Castillo, who threw for 1,896 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, finished 15-for-42 for 172 yards and a touchdown with three picks.
Kaiser’s Dre Falls had two of the three interceptions.
“I give credit for our linemen sticking in there. It’s tough going both ways,” Say said. “Kaiser really wore them down.”
Aiea held Kaiser’s offense without a point. Senior Kolt Joseph and freshman Ethan Yoshino split time at QB with senior Brock Perreira away on a baseball trip.
Yoshino had the most success, completing seven of 16 passes for 55 yards.
“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us offensively,” Seaman said. “The pieces are there. It’s up to us to get the pieces in the right place and move it forward.”