Going into his senior year for the Waipahu Marauders, Isaac Yamashita had a couple of goals.
One of those goals was to come back for his final year of high school and lead his team in receiving yards, just like he did during his junior season. The other? To lead his team to an OIA DII Championship.
But in the preseason, preparing for another run at the title after losing to Pearl City in 2016, both of Yamashita’s goals were in doubt.
During a preseason game against Nanakuli, a game the Marauders won 51-14, Yamashita went down hard, and so did the outlook of Waipahu's season.
“He popped his shoulder out in a preseason game and missed half the season,” said Waipahu head coach Bryson Carvalho. “He came back, the Pearl City game was his first game back.”
The Pearl City game Carvalho referred to wasn’t Waipahu’s most recent outing this past Saturday at Aloha Stadium, a game the Marauders won 23-22 with two touchdown catches from Yamashita. Before he could become a hero for his school, Yamashita had a long road back. And it all started with playing his school's biggest rival.
His first game back from popping out his shoulder was September 22 against Pearl City, Yamashita struggled despite Waipahu winning handedly. He recorded two receptions for just 13 yards, and that's when realized that it would take time for him to get back to his old self.
A week later against Kaimuki, he tallied two receptions for 39 yards and found the end zone for the first time all season.
Feeling a little more comfortable, Yamashita went into the OIA DII Championship game against Pearl City with a chip on his newly-healed shoulder, refusing his high school career to end on a low note.
With that in mind, Yamashita torched Pearly City’s secondary, particularly in the red zone on goal line fades. Yamashita hauled in 104 yards on six receptions and two touchdowns, leading all receivers in yards on the night.
“It felt good to play with my brothers and play with my team again,” he said post game on Saturday. “It feels really good to come up with the W.”
When asked about recovering from his injury, Yamashita just looked away and smiled before praising his teammates once more. But Carvalho wouldn’t allow his senior wideout to remain so humble.
“It’s amazing,” Carvalho said, shaking his head. “I just couldn’t be more proud of him and just how he came back and performed tonight.”
A player who does most his talking with his play, Yamashita was eager to celebrate with his family and teammates after the game. When asked what it felt like to be a DII champion after the season he’s had, Yamashita smirked and said “feels a lot better than last year.”
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