KEAAU – For Thaze Gomes, his sack provided the perfect exclamation point to Kamehameha’s suffocating defensive effort, giving him a chance to soak in the best of both worlds.
The senior celebration was on at Paiea Stadium, yet there was not a single somber hint of finality around, because the party didn’t have to end once the postgame buffet was put away Saturday night.
The Paiea lights will be back on soon enough.
“We have a mixed bunch,” Gomes said of the senior 11. “We have the funny ones, we have the serious ones, we have the mess-around kind-of guys.”
Some may be adventurous and others not, but they all can be homebodies for a while.
Kamehameha’s 51-0 romp against Waiakea ensured as much, giving the Warriors (5-1) home field against Konawaena in the BIIF Division II championship game for the first time since 2014.
“It’s a amazing,” said Gomes, a four-year starter. “Every year since freshman year we’ve always had to travel out there, and we lose and it sucks.
“I’m so happy to be able to host this game here and play on our field and with our crowd.”
Kamehameha will try to end the Wildcats’ three-year reign and seeks its first D-II title since 2014 on either Oct. 27 or 28. The teams may have a two-week break to prepare.
All four finalists, including Hilo and Kealakehe in Division I, are scheduled to play makeup games next weekend – the Vikings host Kamehameha, while the Waveriders are at Konawaena – but there appears to be growing momentum to cancel a pair of contests that were rendered meaningless in the playoff picture by Kamehameha’s win.
A decision could be announced Monday.
Konawaena coach Brad Uemoto told the Tribune-Herald he’d consider forfeiting his team’s rivalry game if it’s not canceled.
Kamehameha coach Dan Lyons wouldn’t go that far, but he shares some of Uemoto’s concerns.
“The thing that you worry about is both makeup games are cross-divisional … it doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “What you worry about in any game is someone getting injured. Do we need to have that game? Obviously, we’ll be ready to play.”
Waiakea (3-4 Division I) can take heart in a resurgent season under first-year coach Neil Azevedo, but Saturday night showed a gap still remains between the two programs. Kamehameha beat Waiakea twice last season by a combined score of 101-0, and the Warriors held their public-school rival to just 16 yards of offense this time. Waiakea used four quarterbacks and completed two passes for positive yardage.
“I’ve got to give a shout-out to coach Mana (Silva),” junior defensive back Makoa Aurello said. “He’s really been there for us. Having us do (film work), stay late, and having our assignments and making sure we do our homework. Everything they ran today, we already knew was coming.”
At one point while Aurello was talking, Lyons stepped in and said, “This guy was amazing.”
For as emotional as Lyons gets on senior nights and as highly as he thinks of this group, it speaks volumes that he selected a junior to speak for the team.
“I wanted to ball it out for (the seniors) and give it 110 percent,” Aurello said.
Kamehameha essentially put the game away with touchdowns on its first three possessions.
On the Warriors’ second play from scrimmage, Kaimi Like found Noah Carvalho behind the defense for the first of their two touchdown connections on a 46-yard score, and Bryce Furuli ran for two scores.
The first, a 14-yard run, was classic Furuli: the 5-foot-7 senior avoids defenders like a bowling ball does pins, but he rammed his way into the end zone.
“That’s what he does,” Lyons said.
Carvalho’s two TDs came a week after he scored twice on pick-sixes against Konawaena, and Molae Liwis’ fumble recovery in end zone in the third quarter gave the Warriors a fourth defensive touchdown in two weeks.
Like and Apu Alfiche added running touchdowns in the second half.
“We’d lost the past two senior games, it’s nice to win one,” Lyons said. “We’re part of the way to what we want to accomplish this year.”
The Warriors have gotten to this point after making a few changes, especially on defense after they were torched by Kealakehe in a 49-42 home loss Sept. 7.
“There was a lot of confusion and there were some problems at practice that we had to overcome,” Gomes said. “It was hard, and that was a huge reason why we had such trouble against Kealakehe. After we cleaned it up, we got tighter as a group. We were just able to click and get going and moving. Scoring on defense and three-and-outs.”
Because of it, the Warriors might be able to play not just one but two more home games.
Gomes was an eighth-grader the last time Kamehameha went to states in 2014, and the Warriors beat Nanakuli at Paiea to reach the semifinals.
“First things first,” Gomes said. “We got to get this one.
Waiakea 0 0 0 0 – 0
Kamehameha 21 7 16 7 – 51
KS-Hawaii – Noah Carvalho 46 pass from Kaimi Like (Christopher Knell kick)
KS-Hawaii – Bryce Furuli 14 run (Knell kick),
KS-Hawaii – Furuli 12 run (Knell kick)
KS-Hawaii – Carvalho 15 pass from Like (Knell kick)
KS-Hawaii – Molae Liwis fumble recovery in end zone (kick failed)
KS-Hawaii – Like 2 run (Knell kick)
KS-Hawaii – Apu Alfiche 4 run (Knell kick)