Sophomore Kalyja Waianae — all 5 feet, 8 inches of him — stood tall in his first varsity start on Friday at Green Valley.
Waianae threw for two scores and ran for a third, all in the first half, to lead the host Gators to a season-opening 21-8 victory over Desert Oasis.
“It feels great,” said Waianae, who threw for 176 yards. “I didn’t see it going that way coming in, but I’ll take it.”
Waianae had the Gators rolling on their first drive, connecting with Jaymz Bischoff on a key 45-yard pass play that set up the first score three plays later. Waianae’s quick toss to Christian Mayberry from 4 yards out put Green Valley up, 6-0.
Waianae added a 14-yard TD toss to Bischoff to cap a 12-play, 62-yard drive in the second quarter. German Bastidas ran in the two-point conversion that boosted the Gators’ lead to 14-0.
But it was perhaps the last play of the first half that showed Waianae’s budding poise.
Green Valley (1-0) faced third-and-goal at the 8 with the clock winding down — except it wasn’t. The scoreboard clock was dark and did not function for the entire game.
Desert Oasis pressured Waianae as he dropped back, but he calmly avoided the rush and scampered to the right sideline and into the end zone to make it 21-0 as time expired in the half.
Waianae said he didn’t know how much time he had before the clock ran out.
“Not really. I just took it in,” said Waianae. “But our line was really moving them, and we were very successful in the first half.”
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks (0-1) looked snake bit on offense in the first half, as the Green Valley defense spent a good portion of the game chasing down Desert Oasis ball carriers in their own backfield.
The Gators limited Desert Oasis to 28 yards of offense in the first half and finished with five sacks.
“We came in with superb confidence,” said Green Valley senior defensive end Brock Hershberger, who had a sack and two tackles for a loss. “We knew the first game coming in we had to come out and play fast. We had to come out and smack them in the mouth and take it personal with them coming into our home and trying to beat us.”
Desert Oasis finally broke the shutout midway through the fourth quarter when Mitch Moniz connected with Kaleb Ramsey on a 19-yard touchdown pass.
With a short week ahead, Waianae said he still sees plenty for the Gators to improve before traveling across town Thursday night to face Centennial.
“We have to work on some things on offense. We need to play faster,” said Waianae. “But we are getting it together.”