PHILADELPHIA —- There was never any doubt in Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada‘s mind.
The senior quarterback missed seven games this season with a hamstring injury. Since the start of October, he’d played roughly three quarters against Temple.
And that was it.
Yet the Hawaiian insisted there wasn’t any question he would participate in today’s 34-0 rout of Army.
“I knew on Thanksgiving,” Kaipo said. “Coach said ‘You are?’ and I said ‘Yeah.’”
Kaipo was solid, which was really all Navy needed. He ran for 43 yards on 14 carries —- a fine change-of-pace with two other guys rushing for 100 yards —- and tossed a touchdown pass to Shun White just before halftime.
Backup Ricky Dobbs was on the field once —- just before halftime when Navy tried to sneak a Hail Mary in before Army caught wind of the scheme and called timeout. Kaipo then returned and handed off to Eric Kettani to end the half.
“I’m just happy he didn’t cramp up again, but Kaipo did a great job,” coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “Ricky’s been playing great, but there’s an experience factor Kaipo brings that you can’t coach. He’s been in big games, he’s been to Notre Dame in front of 90,000 people, he’s been in this game twice. So going into this week, coach [Ivin] Jasper and I were leaning toward Kaipo.”
The final decision was made Thursday after a rough week of practice. But it’s clear Jasper, the Mids’ offensive coordinator, tested Kaipo for several days before the choice was made.
“Coach Jasper was texting me on Sunday and I’m like ‘Come on coach. I’m ready to go,’” Kaipo said. “He didn’t know if I was truly ready to go. I think I did all right.”
—- Patrick Stevens