Campbell’s quest with DJ: Beat Big Red

Campbell coach Darren Johnson as a senior at Kahuku.

Darren Johnson has accomplished things that no other coach in history has, but there is one thing he can do this week that he has never done.

Johnson and his seventh-ranked Campbell Sabers host No. 2 Kahuku on Friday with the OIA Blue title on the line, the 14th time the former Kahuku quarterback has taken on his alma mater as a head coach or assistant.

Johnson, the only coach in history to win OIA titles in football and basketball, is 0-13 in those games, all but two of them as the head coach.

That represents just under a third of all of his losses as a head coach at Kailua, Kaimuki and Campbell.

The grizzled coach, who lives on the North Shore, knows the winning culture at Kahuku as much as anyone. As an assistant at the school under Doug Semones and Reggie Torres, Johnson’s teams went 120-20-2. Add in his time as a 5-foot-6, 145-pound receiver and quarterback for Clarence Lavarias and Johnson has helped bring Big Red 134 victories over the years.

All told, Johnson has had a hand in 215 varsity wins over the years. That seemed to end after the final game of the 2013 season, when the offensive coordinator’s offense was held to 207 total yards (only 67 of them on the ground) and threw three interceptions in a loss to Campbell in the OIA third-place game.

Torres, Johnson and the rest of the coaches left the field that night sharing a sick feeling, but not because they had any idea it would be their last game at Kahuku. Red Raiders receiver Kuuliko Carvalho left the game with a concussion and four broken teeth after a hit by Jerney Tago-Sue of the Sabers. Carvalho recovered, but the frightening moment visibly affected Kahuku’s players.

Three months later Torres was asked to re-apply for his job and didn’t get it when the administration chose Lee Leslie. Johnson declined to re-apply for his jobs as basketball and baseball coach and hasn’t coached those sports since.

Johnson got back into the game this year when Campbell hired him to take over for Amosa Amosa. He already has the program on the verge of a division title, but his alma mater stands in the way.

Although Johnson has not had any luck with the Red Raiders over the years — only three of his losses have been within a touchdown — he certainly knows what it takes to slow Kahuku’s offense.

In his last six meetings with Kahuku, he has allowed only one running back to run for more than 100 yards against him. Dustin Huddy ran for 164 yards against him in 2003, but other legends such as Mulivai Pula (54 and 78 yards), Waika Carvalho (34 and 71), and Allen Kubota (44) have been slowed.

In honor of Friday’s matchup, here is a story from Johnson’s senior year at Kahuku. Click to enlarge it:


  1. Oia#1 September 27, 2017 11:46 am

    About to be 0-14

  2. Whhy September 27, 2017 12:16 pm

    Good luck… Predictions anyone? 30-14 Kahuku.

  3. Douglas Hu September 27, 2017 12:23 pm

    49-28, Big Red….

  4. Awrite!! September 27, 2017 12:31 pm

    The only thing consistent about big red is that they are inconsistent. Campbell might surprise everyone and Im giving them a fighters chance. I still think big red will win 21-14.

  5. Eli September 27, 2017 12:34 pm

    13-14 Campbell… prepare the fireworks

  6. Coach K September 27, 2017 1:13 pm

    Hopefully The Kahukus Commitee gives DJ a shot at the Head coaching job at Kahuku next season,, I think he deserves a shot….Good Luck to both schools…Go Big Red…RR4L

  7. PeeKaBoo Okole September 27, 2017 2:32 pm

    Get Da Fireworks Ready for Saber Nation!! Campbell 28-19

  8. Chloropicrin September 27, 2017 2:50 pm

    Good story line but it’s not gonna be close. Red Raiders got this at least by 3 scores, if not more.

  9. phILHarmonic September 27, 2017 3:05 pm

    What a great piece, but, I MOUSTACHE you a question, hows da Fro??

    This was 12th grade?? Dang.

    Nothin but love for DJ and the Sabers. Good luck to my USO Mika and Rocky and the defense, make sure to keep them pad levels down.

    Good luck to my Uso’s Peni, Lesa, Jared, and the RR team.

    Have a great game fellas.

  10. HI HS FAN September 27, 2017 3:06 pm

    Kudos to DJ and his staff on how they came in and got the boys to believe in their system right away. When he was hired and he met the team, he told them he wasn’t there to rebuild, but to win right away. That in itself motivated the team that if they worked hard, believed in the coaches, the system, and the culture they would be contenders. They are on the cusp of achieving something big and historic if they beat Kahuku. There will be a lot of emotion for the Sabers since it’s their homecoming. They will have a lot to play for, homecoming, division championship, top seed, and giving Coach Johnson his first win over his alma mater. Some people have predicted a close game, while others say it won’t even be close. Let’s see what happens at the end of the night in Ewa Beach.

  11. rrforlifebaby September 27, 2017 3:23 pm

    Good luck to the DJ, Kawe and the Sabers. Anything can happen on any give night, but not this time……

    I remember watching DJ and Big Red when I was in elementary, they were larger than life.


  12. HI HS FAN September 27, 2017 3:25 pm

    Kahuku has not lost an OIA game for the past two years and this year as well. However, unlike the past two years, they haven’t looked consistent offensively. Several Red Raider fans have even mentioned on several posts on #hiprepworld that the offensive play calling has been suspect. They’ve also added that Kahuku is at its best as a power, running team. Furthermore, they have said the introduction of a passing game is good, but there is a lack of a combination of pass blocking, catching the ball, and accuracy of the quarterbacks. What’s true is that defensively the Red Raiders are still hard-nosed, stout, and dominating. Defense wins championships. That’s been their trademark for the past two years. It’s money time time and Kahuku is always at its best when it counts. Time for them to rise up and quiet all the critics and skeptics.

  13. Mana kahala September 27, 2017 4:04 pm

    Good luck to both teams. But I dont see Campbell winning this game ,actually I don’t think they will even score against our first String “D”.But you never know ,stranger things have happened…#Gobigred#RR4L

  14. Joshua Moeai September 27, 2017 4:16 pm

    The Sabers will lead at the half. Then Kahuku will come out and form Voltron to take home the win.

  15. Coach C September 27, 2017 6:06 pm

    Lol, das old school “cut and paste”.

  16. HI HS FAN September 27, 2017 7:50 pm

    DJ loves the bubble screen to the wide receiver. Kahuku’s defense needs to be disciplined and not over-aggressive. Going to be DJ’s offensive play calling versus Soliai’s Rebel Squad II defense.

  17. Darrel Hall September 27, 2017 8:38 pm

    Shake it up, is all that we know…
    Using bodies….up as we go
    I’m working out to better see
    The change all around us
    is the color we use….see
    Smoking guns….hot to the touch
    Would cool down if we didn’t use them so much….yeah!!!
    So alone, and soul really matters to me…
    Look around

    Not using my real name, because I might run into Maile’s husband, and he might not think this was funny.

  18. Scoops September 28, 2017 1:29 am

    @D. Hall…Sorry I don’t know what you talking about. Please elaborate..

  19. TooMeke September 28, 2017 6:35 am

    Great article… people forget he also had an awesome running back – Lakei Heimuli. Took a lot of pressure off the passing game. I remember watching those two race each other in the 100 meters in the track team as well. For a guy of his height, he was right there with Lakei every time.

    Congrats DJ on a great season! Good luck and hope for no injuries.

    I’m sure it’ll be a good game – as we saw last week, Big Red adjusted their offense after Bingham. HC wasn’t happy with the play-calling in Vegas, so he made some adjustments.

    As always, it’s all about the D…the question is if Campbell will be able to move the ball. Our front 7 are beasts…but the secondary is young and suspect…and nobody in the OIA knows how to exploit that better than DJ. I don’t think it’ll be as close as some think it will be.

    Looking forward to watching it!


  20. phILHarmonic September 28, 2017 8:01 am

    HI HS FAN September 27, 2017 7:50 pm
    DJ loves the bubble screen to the wide receiver. Kahuku’s defense needs to be disciplined and not over-aggressive. Going to be DJ’s offensive play calling versus Soliai’s Rebel Squad II defense.

    What is that, Rebel Squad II?

  21. Education First September 28, 2017 8:20 am

    I am gonna be hip-hop dancing at halftime. I am taking my mom to the game since she is my bestie. I never played football but I can tell you that the academics are both schools are bad. I hope to pass out brochures to the fans throughout the game with ideas on how to help their children.

  22. Eli September 28, 2017 10:29 am

    Police and fire departments were notified and gave the thumbs up. Get the fireworks READY!!

  23. Shmuck September 30, 2017 9:26 am

    Eli,the police and fire department didn’t care because they knew that no fireworks would be needed. I guess the refs wanted to see some tho

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