Gonda Was A Wonda In Exciting Cougar Football Season
Among the many factors that fueled Kaiser’s breakthrough season on the football field this fall was a potent ground game led by running back Kai Gonda.
Gonda was recently awarded for his efforts in being chosen as the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Offensive Player of the Year. (OIA All-Conference teams are selected in a vote of league coaches at season’s end.)
The senior averaged 7.2 yards per rushing attempt to go with 12 touchdowns. Kaiser averaged 326 yards of total offense and 34 points per game. Gonda was chosen as a First Team All-Star as an offensive utility player and a defensive back in addition to making the Second Team as a running back. The Cougars finished 7-3 overall, including a 7-1 mark in the OIA White. Kaiser reeled off seven wins after a heartbreaking 21-20 loss to Kalaheo.
First-year head coach Rich Miano was named Coach of the Year.
Joining teammate Gonda on the First Team was lineman Casey Kumashiro, while Christian Clapp (wide receiver) and John Wendall Nisa (line) made the Offensive Second Team.
The defense also had a stellar year, yielding only 211.3 yards per game in 10 outings. The Kaiser defense also enjoyed a stellar year, yielding only 211.3 yards per game in 10 outings.
Opposing coaches took notice of the Cougars personnel, selecting four Kaiser defenders – Fitou Fisiahi (line), Mana Chong-Gum (linebacker), Jeshua Bitanga (secondary) and Gonda (secondary) – to the First Team. Kaiser line-man Manase Palu made the Second Team.
Honorable Mentions from Kaiser were Makana Lyman, Justin Ikei, Destin Moss, Jacob Pollard, Makena Kaneaikala, Joshua Prokraka, Zeno Choi, Trevin Kahunanui, Justin Isobe, Melvin Kahunanui, Vidli Kannys and Jordan Simao.
Kalani wide receiver Gavin Kim and defensive lineman Shiloh Laboy made the First Team. Kim made nine touchdowns on the ground, or receiving, for Kalani, whose 4-4 record in the OIA White was its best mark in over 20 years. Lineman Matt Haili was a Second Team selection and Falcon Honorable Mentions went to Noah Brum, Enrique Gruver, Shaye Matsumoto, Nicholas Carroll, Shane Ra, James Grandalen, Cooper Ellyn, Leo Klink, Charles Lum King, Kaluna Kamakawiwoole and Isaac Akiona.
Running back Kainalu Kaleo was named to the First Team from Anuenue after rushing for a state-best 1,441 yards to go with 16 touchdowns. Linebacker Tui Anuenue was a First Team Defensive choice. Na Koa also had Honorable Mentions in Kimo Romena, Kona Kelekolio, Kaimiloa Tasaka, Kimo Moses, Kaleo Lindsey, Hemakana YamLum, Kawaa Kahana-Reid, NaAlii Dureg, Malaeloa Liua, Keanu Rodriguez, Kakela Lee, Kamalu Kamauoha and Kainalu Kamauoha.
In Division I, wide receiver Stephano Tuisila made the Offensive Second Team from Kaimuki.
Receiving Honorable Mention were teammates Kainalu Spencer, Randon Tuitama, Chansen Exzabe, Tai Boyd, Kaleo Ayers, Aaron Pologa, Chapman Aliksa, Swarrengen Sellet, Sio Kelekolio, Kualii Moefu and Jonah Lapitan.