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.”