KEAAU – Kamehameha football coach Dan Lyons stared straight ahead with a somber expression on his face in the Paiea Stadium press box, sitting slightly back with his head resting on one arm.
Lyons, a father of four daughters, looked as if he had just lost 12 sons. In some ways he had.
The Warriors and their dozen seniors fell in the cruelest of fashions in the driving rain Saturday night, but the how and the why of a 28-27 defeat to Kaimuki in the HHSAA Division II playoffs wasn’t first and foremost on his mind.
Sure, “the loss hurts, it’s the end of our season,” he said. “We had other goals.”
But games would be pedestrian if not for the people who made them matter.
“For me personally, practice ends, the time together ends,” Lyons said. “I’m blessed to have these guys in my life.
“It’s the moving on to another thing, that’s what hits the deepest.”
After Izayah Chartrand-Penera hauled in a potentially game-tying – or go-ahead – touchdown from Kaimi Like with 48 seconds remaining to pull within a point, Lyons talked with an assistant on his headset and sounded as if was seriously considering going for a two-point conversion.
The Warriors ultimately kicked the extra point, which sailed wide.
“It was my call at the end, my decision,” Lyons said. “… We were at home so we kicked for the tie.”
The game was billed as Warriors speed vs. Bulldog power, and it didn’t disappoint.
Kaimuki only completed two passes, was vulnerable in passes coverage and struggled to handle the ball in slippery conditions, losing five fumbles, three of which Kamehameha converted into touchdowns.
But when Kaimuki players tackle you, sometimes they TACKLE you. Its offensive line is bigger than anything the Warriors went up against in the BIIF this season, and the bruising Bulldogs running game found its footing in the second half to the tune of 213 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
“Our guys didn’t back down or get scared of their size,” Lyons said. “They played hard.”
He took the blame for not getting the Warriors committed to their ground game, but considering Kaimuki’s beef up front, running lanes were tough to be found. After the seven sacks of Like were taken in to account, the Warriors managed just 14 yards rushing.
“In losses like this, you think about the seniors,” Lyons said, “some of whom have started for us for four years.
“Kids like Noah Carvalho that you’ve seen grow up so much. Kytan (Capacillo‐Cacabelos), all of them. Kaimi, I don’t know how many times he got hit, but he keeps fighting.”
Beyond success or failure, Lyons is fond of saying there has to be more to a game than just wins and losses.
This season he found it.
“You just see this growth in them you just want them top have one more win and one more opportunity,” Lyons said, “and selfishly you want to to be around them one more time.”