Kailua’s first win of the season wasn’t pretty, but the Surfriders will certainly take victories however they can.
Behind its gritty defense that made up for inconsistency on offense, Kailua prevailed 26-14 over Radford in a contest riddled with penalties and turnovers.
The team’s first victory comes a week after coming oh-so-close against No. 10 Moanalua in an 18-17 loss. For Kailua coach Joseph Wong, the key for his squad during the week was to move on from the letdown and not let it carry over into Friday night.
“It’s the little things. The little things can come back and become the big things,” he said. “It’s just the basic little things that we need to work on and make sure we capitalize on it.”
The home team struck first when Kailua quarterback Cameron Friel hit a wide-open Koali’i Kohatsu in stride for a 48-yard score with 6:08 left in the first quarter.
Radford evened the score with 21 seconds to go in the first when Kendall Saxton caught a 17-yard pass from Kalob Victorino-Avilla for a touchdown.
Both teams had their own dry spells in the second quarter. Kailua’s was due to a few costly holding calls in Radford territory, while Radford’s was due to general ineffectiveness on offense.
Victorino-Avilla completed his first five passes for the Rams, but finished the first half with four straight incompletions, including an interception. Starting quarterback JT Tafisi completed just two of his nine passes in the first half.
Hastings Yee Hoy’s 2-yard rush gave Kailua a 13-7 lead at halftime.
An eventful sequence in the third quarter started with a 23-yard pick-6 from Jayden Kamakele to stretch the Kailua lead to 20-7 with 4:47 left in the period. Damon Nelson returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown for Radford.
The Surfriders fumbled on their next offensive play, with Radford recovering. Two plays later, Kala’i Cardin-Kiaha came up with another interception for Kailua. In total, the Surfriders defense finished with five picks.
“They’ve been playing like that all year long thus far,” Wong said. “I expected that from them. The pass rush was a little slow in the beginning, but they picked it up in the end.”
Yee Hoy, despite running for just 11 yards on seven carries, scored two touchdowns. His second 2-yard score of the day put the game away with 5:26 left. Yee Hoy played both ways on Friday night, lining up at linebacker as well.
“Finally after a long (losing) streak, we just did our jobs,” he said. “Everybody did their jobs and we worked hard to get the ‘dub.’ ”
With the first win of the season under their belts, the Surfriders look to carry that momentum into their bye week before resuming play against ‘Iolani on Sept. 6.
“It’s big for us. This is our fourth game if you count preseason. It comes at a nice time for us, I think it’s perfect timing,” Wong said of the bye. “Sometimes you want it halfway or three-quarters of the way, but you can’t ask for more. We’ll regroup, take care of the little things and get a little better on our concentration.”