Big plays, big ‘D’ spark No. 1 Kahuku in 33-7 semifinal win over No. 9 Waianae

Kahuku's defense swarmed Waianae's Tarent Moniz-Babb on Saturday, sacking the normally elusive quarterback six times in a 33-7 semifinal win. Craig T. Kojima/

Sterling Carvalho didn’t like what he saw sometimes on the synthetic turf of Skippa Diaz Stadium.

In Kahuku’s 33-7 semifinal win over Waianae, there were 419 combined passing yards by Jason Mariteragi and Waika Crawford. That’s a like.

Kainoa Carvalho continued his sensational season with nine receptions for 166 yards, including an 85-yard screen pass for a TD. Another like.

Kahuku’s defense was in vanilla mode early on as Waianae established some rhythm with Kolu Quisquirin-Sabagala and the ground attack. Once the lead grew, Big Red’s defense poured on the pressure, sacking Waianae quarterback Tarent Moniz-Babb six times. Leonard Ah You had 2.5 of those takedowns.

Ah You and dozens of his teammates are loyal to the end. On Thursday, they made the trek to Moanalua, where the Kahuku girls volleyball team played for the OIA Division I title. A community backing one of its teams is powerful, but one with Kahuku’s football brothers in the bleachers is like nothing else.

“I feel like when we’re supporting our own teams, they’re going to support us. It works both ways. My favorite cousin is on the team, Emmalei Mapu. She played a great game,” Ah You said.

Kahuku won the OIA girls volleyball title. The football team deployed the same relentless ferocity on Saturday.

“We were feeling them out. As soon as we felt like we were over them, we started sending the blitz and bringing the house, finishing the game,” Ah You said.

It was, as Waianae coach Matt Murakawa noted before the game, precisely that momentum surge sparked by swing-for-the-fences risk taking by Kahuku that he wanted to avoid. Waianae came up empty inside the red zone twice in the first half, and Kahuku eventually connected on those big swings.

For the top-ranked team in the state, it was the inefficiency that left an impact. What Carvalho didn’t like were the mental miscues: 17 yellow flags for 173 yards. Most of them came after Kahuku opened the lead to 14-0 in the second quarter.

“Sloppy game. Not the game you want to be playing in the semifinals, going into the final,” Carvalho said. “We’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to do this week. Got to clean things up, stay more disciplined in everything we do. Snap infractions. Offsides offensively and defensively. Just sloppy.”

Ninth-ranked Waianae did its part, going on a 14-play, 77-yard touchdown drive to cut the lead to14-7 with 1:35 left in the second quarter. Momentum was on the Seariders’ side.

Then it was not. Kahuku just needed two plays on its next series to score again. Mariteragi, making his return from a mid-season injury, found two-way playmaker Brock Cravens Fonoimoana wide open on a post route for a 43-yard TD. Kahuku went into the half up 20-7 and never looked back. Fonoimoana also had an interception and returned the opening kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown.

Waianae’s dangerous four-wide attack was limited to 101 yards in total offense. Quisquirin-Sabagala had 85 rushing yards on 21 carries, adding two receptions for 16 yards in another gritty effort. One great player, though, is not enough to overcome Kahuku’s elite defensive unit.

Now, Mililani awaits.

“They’re a great team, but I feel we have way more talent than them,” Ah You said. “No dissing them, but I think we’re going to take the trophy home, knock on wood.”


  1. RedAlerty December 5, 2021 7:19 am

    Kahuku players and fans are so full of themselves. Never fails. Can’t wait till Mililani wakes them up.

  2. Eddie K December 5, 2021 8:53 am

    Wow. What happens next year when the USA #1 hs linebacker, Tausili Akana comes back home? Ah You, Lefau and Akana? All have top 25 offers. Oh my.

  3. 88 December 5, 2021 9:36 am

    It won’t matter if our O-Line don’t hit the weight room and sand dunes over the summer…

  4. Recruited not Rooted December 5, 2021 10:22 am

    Sorry, but I just don’t get all the hype about Kahuku this year. Yes, they have some great athletes for sure. Yes, they are a good football team, but by no means unbeatable. Looks like they are beating up on a weak, covid ravished OIA to me. 1. Saint Louis 2. Kahuku 3. Kamehameha 4. Punahou 5. Mililani.
    I’m sure I’ll get crucified for this post, but think I’ll be the one saying, “I told you so” come Dec. 23rd.

  5. Rrforlifebaby December 5, 2021 11:52 am

    @Recruited not Rooted….I don’t think anyone has mentioned Big Red being unbeatable. Millilani will definitely be better prepared this coming Friday. I don’t know how you rank both the Puns and Kamehameha ahead of Mililani…and believe me, I’m no fan of them. But the Trojans are more of a complete team than either the Puns or the Warriors. Either way, the road to the ‘ship still runs through the Crusaders.


  6. 88 December 5, 2021 12:44 pm

    You don’t get the hype because you know nothing about football. This team has no field to practice on but yet dominates every team they have played. No field, that’s crazy…

  7. RRFL 94 December 5, 2021 1:11 pm

    I’m so disappointed with this Team!!! Ya’ll haven’t earned anything!!! Excessive celebration and taunting on almost every touchdown. To much talking, What happened to staying humble?? This is not red raider culture.. Pride, community and respect!! Coaches better talk to the kids before it’s to late..

  8. Good Story December 5, 2021 3:29 pm

    Love the ILH elitist who always thinks they soooo much better than us. I’m not a Mililani fan but I can’t help but hope they beat St Louis just to shut them up.

  9. Hilo Heights December 5, 2021 3:57 pm

    Next Saturday will be a good game as both teams will be playing their hearts out for that OIA crown.. Hope to see both team stay healthy and both team bring it in States..
    Good luck guys.. RR4L

  10. Stacey December 5, 2021 4:23 pm

    People who get mad about players who transfer or get recruited GET OVER IT. They are not slaves and BELONG to anyone other then there parents.

  11. ilh December 5, 2021 5:40 pm

    Kahuku will romp over Mililani again, Mililani has no discipline, , the State Tournament should just be Saint Louis, Kamehameha, Punahou and Kahuku, this is the top teams in the State, in 2019 the State Tournament used a different bracket set up, #1Played #3 and #2 played #4, let’s see if they will do the same again this year. usually it’s #1 vs. #4 and #2 vs. #3. Kahuku, Mililani and Waianae will be the OIA teams in the State Tournament, Campbell still looks bad.

  12. 88 December 5, 2021 7:31 pm

    For the Crusaders sake let’s hope they go that route because Mililani will mop the floor with the Crusaders just like they did when they scrimmaged them earlier in the season.. If not it’s going to be an all OIA State Championship.

  13. Eddie K December 5, 2021 7:54 pm

    Waianae will beat Campbell.

  14. Tuli December 5, 2021 10:52 pm

    Agreed the OIA is extremely weak this year. I would rank St. Louis and kahuku as tied for #1 just because they are on top of their leagues and then put kamehameha #2 followed by punahou. Mililani, Campbell and Waianae look horrific compared to the 3 I mentioned earlier

  15. RidgeRunnerDD-214 December 6, 2021 12:05 pm

    “Tuli” a.k.a. “Dafun” at least gave Kahuku a tie for 1st in his imaginary rankings this time. Quick, somebody at HPW please do a write-up on st. Louis, Dafun is going kuku maluku out here.

  16. Eddie K December 6, 2021 1:26 pm

    In any case, St.Louis will face both OIA 1 and 2, of course if they get past OIA #2. Big disadvantage to St.lou, no real game time in 43 days… one big advantage to StL. is the game probably be played at UH, which is a minute bus ride from campus. Kahuku bus ride from campus, 2 hrs. Road Warriors

  17. Ilh December 6, 2021 5:34 pm

    Kahuku #1 seed would play #3 seed Mililani, #2 seed Saint Louis would face #4 seed Waianae or Campbell.

  18. 88 December 6, 2021 6:16 pm

    Yeah if i was ILH I would pray for that playoff format too. If they do it the other way it would be an all OIA State Final

  19. Dafun December 6, 2021 11:10 pm

    Yes ridge runner, you got me. I’m just lost on how there’s more Kahuku fans on this site compared to any other team, even more than my school. I bet majority of you never even went to kahuku. At least I can say I played for St Louis unlike you guys

  20. 88 December 7, 2021 6:25 pm

    what you played, Flute?…

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