By Rodney S. Yap
Based on his extraordinary performance fewer than 48 hours ago, Andre Pierman’s stock is rising at Maui High School.
After all, it was Pierman’s second-half efforts that sparked the Sabers football team to erupt for 27 unanswered points in the first seven minutes of the third quarter Saturday against Konawaena at War Memorial Stadium.
The senior defensive back, who is quickly proving to be the team’s most invaluable player, took it upon himself during halftime to help the Sabers turnaround their first-half misfortune — trailing the Wildcats 24-7 — by executing a series of game-changing plays.
“We really didn’t talk about it. Nobody said anything at halftime,” said Pierman when asked what inspired him to seize the moment. “We just looked at each other in the eye and said, ‘Don’t give up. The game is not over yet.’”
Pierman said he had a flashback at halftime, recalling last year’s game at Konawaena when Maui High built a 17-14 cushion at intermission.
“We went over there last year and gave up in the second half. I remember last year we just didn’t have the drive to finish the game.”
The Wildcats scored 25 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter, en route to a 38-17 victory over Maui High.
“I just told everyone not to give up and the game was not over yet. I said I would make plays for them if they helped me out. And my coach was telling me to make plays and everyone else will follow you. He told me to play my game and he had a feeling that I could take one to the house.”
Because Maui High was receiving the second-half kickoff, Pierman liked his chances of making an impact play should he get an opportunity to return the ball.
The 6-foot, 170-pound Pierman set the table for the Sabers’ first come-from-behind touchdown by returning the kickoff 55 yards to Kona’s 33-yard line. Running back Onosai Emelio later scored the first of his three rushing touchdowns 75 seconds into the third quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff to Konawaena by Maui High, Jared Kapisi delivered an onside kick and Pierman recovered the loose ball.
“Coach Bui wanted to see how they were set up and than he gave the signal for it (onside kick),” said Pierman. “After that you could feel the momentum swing. Our whole attitude changed as soon as we got that first touchdown. And now the crowd was with us, too.”
A 25-yard run by Mario Fernandez helped the Sabers set up their next score with 8:46 to play in the third period. That’s when Emelio hauled in a 7-yard play-action pass from quarterback Tyson Takabayashi.
About a minute later, Pierman made a defensive play helped jar the ball lose from Konawaena quarterback Brandon Howes and the Sabers’ Nathan Apolo alertly recovered the fumble. Two plays later Justin Carvalho raced into the end zone from 17 yards out as the Sabers regained the lead for good, 27-24.
Emelio and Carvalho would both score again, on runs of 12 and 44 yards, respectively, before Pierman got into the scoring act by returning his second interception of Howes 30 yards – the last five yards saw him launch his body over a would-be tackler near the sideline.
“I saw their guy going deep on me and then I saw the ball separate from his hands and I just moved in on the ball. Then I ran into my teammate (Lucas Ibanez) and I tried to find an open route and saw the sidelines. Their guy tried to take out my legs, so I just jumped as high as I could. I figured that would be the easiest way to score and I wanted to score real bad.”
Besides making a handful of tackles that drew oh’s and ah’s from the crowd, Pierman was involved in four takeaways as he finished with two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and two interceptions.
“I would say that was my best game of my high school career,” said the defensive back, who credits a lot of his immediate improvement to off-season trainer David Kamalani. “I wanted to set the tone by making as many game-changing plays as I could.
“Last year I got moved to linebacker halfway through the season. That really wasn’t my position but I did it for the team, wherever they needed help.”
The Sabers take their 2-0 record into Friday’s (Aug. 23) regular-season opener against Baldwin, beginning at 7 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium.
Pierman said the team is fired up about getting its ineligible players back and could not ask for a better season-opening opponent than cross-town rival Baldwin.
“We’ll be ready,” Pierman concluded. “I just try to stick to the way I play and I don’t worry about anything else.”
Saturday’s Scoring Summary
Konawaena 4 10 0 13‑-37
Maui High 7 0 27 13–47
MH–Mario Fernandez 20 run (Jared Kapisi kick), 11:06.
KO–Dishon Cho 5 run (John Replogle kick), 7:56.
KO–Chase Takaki 22 pass from Brandon Howes (Replogle kick), 4:42.
KO–Replogle 28 FG, 9:18.
KO–Cameron Howes 29 pass from Brandon Howes (Replogle kick), 0:28.
MH–Onosai Emelio 20 run (Kapisi kick), 10:45.
MH–Emelio 7 pass from Tyson Takabayashi (Kapisi kick), 8:46.
MH–Justin Cravalho 18 run (run failed), 7:48.
MH–Emelio 12 run (Kapisi kick), 5:05.
KO–Makoa Chapa 2 run (kick blocked), 9:56.
MH–Cravalho 44 run (Kapisi kick), 5:42.
MH–Andre Pierman 30 interception return (kick failed), 4:40.
KO–Brandon Awa 8 pass from Brandon Howes (Replogle kick), 0:24.