2019 TEAM RECORD
>> 9-4 overall, 4-1 OIA Open Division
>> Sterling Carvalho is 16-9 in two seasons with the Red Raiders.
KEY UNDERCLASSMEN IN 2019
>> DL/FB Zion Ah You, 5-10, 250, Jr.; RB Zealand Matagi, 5-10, 195, Jr.; LB Alan Talanoa, 5-11, 180, Jr.; OL Sione Heimuli, 6-3, 320, So.
KAHUKU THROUGH THE YEARS: 1973-2019
HISTORICAL EQUIVALENT: 2003 Mililani
The new Open Division helped spell the end of Kahuku’s dominance, but the most important stat — victories — remains the same.
The 2019 Red Raiders went 9-4, with the four losses adding to the five last year to give the program nine in the last two years. That is the most they have had in successive seasons since Gordon Miyashiro and Doug Semones lost 10 in the 1988-89 seasons.
They are all on Sterling Carvalho. It took Reggie Torres six years to compile his first nine losses, Siuaki Livai needed three years and Doug Semones took four.
But that is dwelling on losses. Look on the opposite side of the ledger and Carvalho’s 16 victories in his two years in charge is more than local legends like Famika Anae (10), Siuaki Livai (10), Lester Souza (13), Clarence Lavarias (14) and Chuck Mead (12) all had in their first two years as the head coach.
The thing that makes Carvalho’s nine victories and spot in the Open Division state championship the most impressive is that the team had a point differential of only 7.2 thanks to a few ugly blowouts.
The only three other teams in state history (1997 Kalaheo, 2009 Waianae and 1973 Waipahu) with a 7.2 point differential struggled to a pedestrian 14-12 combined record. Kahuku rose far and away above that mediocrity.
That point differential was the program’s worst since the 2013 team put up a 4.8 number and cost Torres his job. Kahuku has seen its point differential decrease every season since the 2015 championship team. It is the first time in program history that the point differential has decreased for four straight years.
The offense struggled to find its way this season, putting up 21.7 points per game, way down from its 29.1 mark last year and the lowest since Torres’ 21.6 in 2008. The offense has gone downhill every year since 2016.
Kahuku’s defense really stepped it up after last year’s anomaly. The team allowed 14.5 points a game after a 21.4 mark last year, the biggest drop since Vavae Tata took over Lee Leslie‘s team and built one of the best defenses ever with it.
Kahuku almost completely abandoned the passing game after a brief flirtation this year, dialing up passes just 23% of the time after doing so 41% of the time in Carvalho’s first go-round. Without the threat of a pass, the Red Raiders ran just 49 offensive plays per game, down from the 58.9 in 2018’s more passer friendly scheme.
Carvalho went with Tiger Adolpho at quarterback after Robbie Sauvao bolted, but he wasn’t asked to do much more than not throw the ball to the other team. He succeeded on that account, throwing only two interceptions all season.
Adolpho finished with only 111 passing attempts, the fewest for the passing leader since Sol-Jay Maiava was limited to 110 in 2016. His 573 yards and four touchdown passes were the fewest for the program’s leading passer since Kesi Ah-Hoy was in charge of a similar run-heavy offense in 2015. Adolpho never had more than 12 attempts in a game, and his best performance came during the state tournament when he was a perfect 5-for-5 for a season-high 101 yards against Campbell after being held to 19 yards in two previous meetings with the Sabers.
Jason Mariteragi got some run at quarterback, going 17-for-29 for 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns with one interception. He had easily the top performance of the season by going 7-for-9 for 140 yards and a touchdown against a surprised Kapolei squad and he was efficient enough in the state tournament against Campbell and Saint Louis.
Zealand Matagi was the biggest beneficiary of the old-school offense, getting 240 carries and turning them into 1,418 yards and 19 touchdowns to become the top running back in the Open Division and a first-team, All-State selection. Matagi’s workload and results were the best in a generation of Kahuku football, better than stars like Kesi Ah-Hoy, Salanoa Alo-Wily and Soli Afalava and bringing to mind all-time great Aofaga Wily. Matagi went over the century mark in seven games, the most since Wily did it 10 times in 2012. Matagi had his breakout performance against Campbell when he touched the ball 17 times and turned it into 261 yards and three touchdowns against the Sabers’ helpless defense. That performance landed him on Kahuku’s stacked single-game performance list, coming in at No. 9 with names like Malosi Teo, Talimoni Talimoni, Jason Keo, Mark Atuaia and Micah Strickland. Matagi gashed Campbell for 143 yards and two touchdowns the second time he played them and 133 yards and two scores the third time, giving him 537 yards against the Sabers alone. He played against state champion Saint Louis twice, but gained only 124 yards on 34 carries against them and was limited — by his standards — to 107 yards on 29 carries in two games against Mililani.
Matagi wasn’t the only option to run the ball for Kahuku, but his success made it hard to carve out carries for anyone else. Lalio Kaluna got 85 chances and turned them into 316 yards for a respectable 3.7 yards per carry. Kelsyn Tangaro-Kanoa and Fonoimoana-Vaomu combined to carry the ball 43 times for 287 yards. Jack Tito cleared the way for the multiple running backs but carried it only 25 times. Simple statistics say that Kade Nakaahiki-Bourgeois needed the ball more than the three times he got it, since he broke off runs for 24 and 12 yards on two of them.
Someone had to lead the runnin’ Raiders in receiving, and 5-foot-4, 135-pound Cole Pruett earned the honor. Pruett caught 14 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown, the fewest yards for the leader in that statistic since Pua Falemalu was limited to an 8-156-1 line in 2015. Pruett did show his stuff against Kapolei with two catches for 86 yards and a touchdown, but the lack of scoring catches by the team was alarming. The entire Kahuku receiving corps caught six touchdown passes this year, led by Lokana Enos with two. That is one fewer than Mason Paulo, last year’s leading receiver, had in the 2018 campaign. Tomasi Pasi was the only other Red Raider to go over 100 yards receiving for the season, covering 112 yards on nine catches. Kaonohi Kaniho almost got there in a limited role, catching 10 passes for 93 yards. In all, 17 different receivers caught at least one pass for the Red Raiders.
Expect more of the same next year with Matagi and a good portion of the offense returning next year. Seniors who will be missed include Fonoimoana-Vaomu, Ace Kaufusi, Kaniho and linemen Micah Soliai-Howlett and Marcus Lombard. The quarterbacks get another summer of practice and there are a slew of freshmen and sophomores to follow the lead of Matagi and the other rising seniors.
2019 TEAM STATS
|Zion Ah You||13||6||10||3|
|Peter John Mataira||4||2||41||0|