By Randy Dela Cruz, Ho'okele Sports Editor
Only moments after winning their final Hawaii Women’s Gridiron League (HWGL) game of the regular season, the Bombshells quickly focused on avenging their single loss of the year – an 18-12 defeat at the hands of the league-leading Wahine Koa.
After getting past the Lady Paniolos, 13-6, in a come-from-behind victory at Kapiolani Park on Nov. 24, the Bombshells will have a bye week before heading in the playoffs, which according to co-head coaches Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Jenkins and Gas Turbine System (Mechanical) 2nd Class John Lennon, should end in a head-to-head, winner-take-all showdown versus the Wahine Koa.
“We’re coming for the Koa,” Jenkins said. “We’re going to win.”
The HWGL is part of the Hawaii Gridiron League, which includes men’s semipro tackle football and is overseen by former University of Hawaii standout and ex-NFL player Darrick Branch.
A total of nine teams compete in the HWGL, which draws many of its players from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) and other military bases around the island.
Although the Bombshells came out a bit flat against the Lady Paniolos, the team turned things around with a strong second half led by wide receiver Mili Polite, an Air Force spouse, who caught two passes for touchdowns after half-time.
Lennon said that the team’s slow start might have been attributed to the fact that the team had already clinched the postseason’s No. 2 seed before its matchup with the Lady Paniolos.
However, Lennon pointed out that once the playoffs start, he doesn’t expect any letdown by the Bombshells – especially if the battle for the crown comes down to a meeting against the Wahine Koa.
“Our girls are confident in what they can do,” Lennon said. “We’re coming for the championship.”
Against the Lady Paniolos, Bombshells quarterback Caryn Harman, a Navy spouse, struggled in the first half.
On her first set of downs, Harman was picked off by Tech. Sgt. Evette Blount, Pacific Command/Joint Intelligence Operation Center (PACOM/JIOC), and then failed to pick up a first down on the team’s next two offensive sets.
The second punt turned out to be a nightmare for Bombshells, after the hike sailed over the head of the punter and landed just outside of the goal line at the two.
On the very first play from scrimmage, Lady Paniolos running back Schnelle Smith got the ball and broke into the end zone for a 6-0 lead that stood up until the break.
In the second half, the Bombshells got the ball at their own 35 and moved into Lady Paniolos territory at the 30 on a pass from Harman to another Navy spouse Jessica Fama.
Then after throwing two incomplete passes, the Bombshells on third and long, unveiled a flea flicker that caught the Lady Paniolos defense completely off-guard.
Harman got the snap from shotgun, threw a quick sideline pass to Gas Turbine System Technician (Mechanical) 2nd Class Shaluan Douglas, USS Chafee (DDG 90), who then delivered a perfect spiral in the arms of a wide open Polite for a touch-down.
The Bombshells converted their points after touchdown to take their first lead of the game at 7-6.
Up by a point, the Bombshells defense went to work and came up with a huge four-and-done stop on the Lady Paniolos to get the ball back.
Spotting a chance to put the game away for good, Harman sealed it up by leading the Bombshells on a 35-yard drive to pay dirt that ended on a shot two-yard toss to Polite for her second touchdown of the game.
“I heard my team screaming and it was so awesome,” Polite said about her two catches for touchdowns.
Even though the win over the Lady Paniolos was a lot harder than anticipated, Polite said it didn’t matter and expressed confidence that the Bombshells will turn it on in two weeks.
“We’re exactly where we should be,” she said. “We’re going to beat Koa and go all the way.”