Lee Leslie has yet to experience a Kahuku-Farrington game. But he has a pretty good idea what to expect when the Red Raiders and Governors meet on Thursday.
“That’ll be a big-time emotional game,” the first-year Kahuku coach said. “Both schools are rivals and that’s going to be a fun one.”
A spot in the OIA Division I championship game and a state tournament berth will be at stake when the rivalry is renewed at Aloha Stadium.
The programs were separated by the league’s new divisional alignment this season and Kahuku finished atop the OIA Red while Farrington placed second in the Blue.
Kahuku has won four of the last six meetings, including the last two postseason meetings. But Farrington owns current bragging rights that accompanied last season’s 21-7 win at Aloha Stadium.
Both teams had byes in the first round of this year’s playoffs and Kahuku held off Kapolei in a 9-0 win at home on Friday while Farrington pulled away from Waianae 37-15.
Farrington running back Sanele Lavatai ran for 118 yards and a touchdown in last year’s win over Kahuku and the Governors have two more backs capable of piling up yardage in Ranan Mamiya and Challen Faamatau while quarterback Montana Liana threw for two touchdowns against Waianae.
The Red Raider defense enters the game coming off its first shutout since a 35-0 win over Castle on Sept. 14, 2012.
Kahuku limited Kapolei to 84 yards in total offense with 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmage for 51 yards in losses, including three sacks. The total included sophomore linebacker Sioele Naupoto‘s stop in the end zone for a third quarter safety that effectively put the game out of reach.
“Defensively, this IS Kahuku,” Leslie said of the Red Raiders’ effort.
Cornerback John Farley ended Kapolei’s first possession with an interception deep in Kahuku territory and came up with another pick in the fourth quarter.
“It was just keys and reads from the D-line all the way up to the secondary, discipline straight off the bat,” Farley said.
The defensive performance overcame a penalty-ridden performance on both sides of the ball for the Red Raiders. Kahuku allowed nine Kapolei first downs, eight awarded on penalties.
While running back Kesi Ah Hoy managed just 25 yards on 10 carries, he impacted the game on special teams.
Leslie credited the defense’s effort and “the other thing was Kesi’s punting,” he said. “Field position, we won it all night long. He set them back with his punting and the defense cleaned it up. Field position was huge tonight.”
The Kahuku offense took the lead on its first play from scrimmage on quarterback Tuli Wily-Matagi‘s 55-yard keeper but was hampered by penalties and turnovers, including four interceptions, over the remainder of the game.
“We had a great (bye) week,” Leslie said. “We got back in the weight room we did a lot of running. We had a great week and I don’t really understand it. I’ll have to look at the film before I figure out what the problem is, but it was a frustration for sure.”
While those elements and an inspired effort from the Kapolei defense kept the prospect for a quarterfinal upset in play for most of the night, the Red Raider defense was integral in extending the season and setting up another chapter in the series with Farrington.
Recent Kahuku-Farrington results.
Oct. 1, 2010 Kahuku 16, Farrington 0
Oct. 1, 2011 Farrington 14, Kahuku 13, at Roosevelt
Nov. 4, 2011 Kahuku 23, Farrington 0, at Aloha Stadium
Oct. 29, 2012 Kahuku 31, Farrington 6, at Aloha Stadium
Nov. 16, 2012 Kahuku 47, Farrington 14, at Aloha Stadium
Oct. 2, 2013 Farrington 21, Kahuku 7, at Aloha Stadium