’tis the season so I am posting what I call the Good News
for Modern Man.
How does kicking four successful field goals in a US
football game make you to the goat? Read on and find out.
High school football in Hawai’i is like golf is to
Scotland. Indeed, sometimes it seems like high school itself
is more important than college (If someone from Hawai’i asks
you where you graduated from they are asking what high school
you went to).
So you can probably imagine how important high school
football in Hawai’i is. And for many years, football in
Hawai’i was dominated by one high school in particular: St.
Louis High. The little Catholic school
on the slopes above Honolulu was founded in 1846 and is a
local powerhouse when it comes to football.
So it was the championship game for the year. All the
months of preparation and hard work came down to this. Win
this game, and you were on top of the world. Lose it, and
there’s always next year. But in this, in this game, it came
down to one play.
The score was St. Louis 26 and cross-island rival
Kahuku (itself founded in 1893 and now has students
predominantly from Mormon families) 27. Time was running out.
With 19 seconds left, St. Louis tried a 55-yard (~50m) field
goal. The snap from the center spun on its axis in a lazy
almost slow motion arc into the hands of the waiting holder.
He placed it down perfectly and watched as the kicker stepped
forward and kicked the ball towards the hopes and dreams of
his team, family, and alumni. But 55-yards was 10 yards too
far and the ball fell short of the goal post uprights. The
Kahuku players and fans go wild, screaming with joy over
But wait, there’s a flag on the play. A defender tackled
the kicker after the punt was on its way. The foul moves the
ball 15-yards (~14m) closer to the goal. Again, the teams
line up. Again, all eyes are on the young man in the red and
blue uniform. A young man who has already successfully kicked
four field goals earlier in the game. The ball is snapped.
The kick is away. And again . . . he misses. But this time,
there is no foul and there is no time left. Game over. Kahuku
wins and St. Louis loses.
Pandemonium breaks out again as the Kahuku players and
fans celebrate their hard fought victory. All of the Kahuku
players that is, except for two. These two see the St. Louis
kicker still down on one knee, devastated by the loss. One
can only imagine the mental anguish that must have been going
though the kicker’s mind as his head hung down, dejected.
These two Kahuku players, seeing the pain of their opponent,
come over to console the player only moments before they
would have glady run into the ground.
Afa Garrigan, a 17-year-old Kahuku senior, is on the
left, his head bent close to Santiago like he’s saying
“I told him, ‘You did good, brah. You did really good in
this game,” Garrigan said.
Mauhe Moala, a 17-year-old junior, is on the right, his
arm curled around Santiago in a gesture of support.
Both Garrigan and Moala said they acted out of respect
for the talented player Santiago is and the knowledge of
how heart breaking the loss must be.
“I don’t know him,” Garrigan said. “All I know is that
he’s a really, really good kicker.”
“I remember when I was in Pop Warner,” Moala said. “It
was our championship game. I was playing hard, and we lost
and then a person I was going up against, he came up to me
and said the same thing to me. It made a difference.”
Garrigan said it didn’t really cross his mind that he
was consoling an opponent. “Not an opponent,” he said,
“just another player. That’s sportsmanship.”
Santiago doesn’t really remember what the Kahuku players
said to him, only that in that difficult moment, they told
him to keep his head up.
“It could have been a really bitter loss. I mean, I
wasn’t happy that we lost, but because of the sportsmanship
that they showed, it made it a lot easier to let go. It
really meant a lot to me, ” Santiago said. “I don’t even
know them personally, but it feels like we’re friends. I
have a lot of respect for the Kahuku players, especially
after the support they showed us. They could have been
jumping around and celebrating with their teammates, but
they chose to talk to me. It’s something I’ll always
The moment lasted only a few seconds and come next year,
the players will be trying again, as hard as they can, to
beat each other. But these two players showed, through their
selfless action, what true sportsmanship is all about.
Left to right: Garrigan, Moala, and Santiago