CLOSING THE BOOK: 2019 Kahuku Red Raiders

Kahuku perform a haka after defeating Timpview in Utah in September. Photo by Samantha Madar/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

>> 9-4 overall, 4-1 OIA Open Division

>> Sterling Carvalho is 16-9 in two seasons with the Red Raiders.

>> 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.



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.

Kahuku quarterback Tiger Adolpho (19) led the Red Raiders in passing as a junior. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.


Tiger Adolpho1353-111-25734
Jason Mariteragi917-29-12122
Jesse Purcell30-1-000
Mana Fonoimoana-Vaomu133-4-0-60
Zealand Matagi132401,41819
Lalio Kaluna12853161
Kelsyn Tangaro-Kanoa7211641
Mana Fonoimoana-Vaomu13221230
Robert Chang718881
Jack Tito1325521
Kade Nakaahiki-Bourgeois53380
Jesse Purcell32120
Zion Ah You136103
Jason Mariteragi914-120
Tiger Adolpho1348-301
Cole Pruett10142071
Tomasi Pasi991120
Kaonohi Kaniho1310930
Lalio Kaluna127671
Micah Carvalho56590
Lokana Enos22482
Peter John Mataira42410
Zealand Matagi134390
Cypress Abraham44210
Keoki Annandale11201
Jack Tito132140
Elias Matagi-Magalei11100
Isaac Vaka11100
Frisco Aveau12100
Kana Fonoimoana-Vaomu13291
Kade Nakaahiki-Bourgeois5470
Ikaika Wells1140
Kahuku wide receiver Tomasi Pasi (2) hauled in a pass over Campbell linebacker Titan Jarra (20) during the second half of an Open Division semifinal game. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Kahuku two-way standout Kaonohi Kaniho (7) ran with the ball after intercepting a pass against Timpview. Photo by Samantha Madar/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Kahuku defensive lineman Zion Ah You (25) caught a deflected pass for an interception during the first half against Campbell in the OIA playoffs. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Kahuku’s Ace Kaufusi, left and Alan Talanoa, right, got in on this sack of Kapolei quarterback Freddie Gregorio. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Kahuku fullback Jack Tito (34) played a big part in Kahuku’s 32-point second half against Waianae according to coach Sterling Carvalho. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Kahuku’s Mana Fonoimoana-Vaomu (1) played on both sides of the ball this year. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Kahuku running back Lalio Kaluna (44) put a stiff arm on Farrington defensive back Jayden-Isaiah Fratacelli (44). Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.


  1. HI HS FAN December 30, 2019 12:15 pm

    Kahuku will not get back to the dominance they had in the OIA if parents decide to transfer out their kids to other schools in and out of state. The lack of confidence in Coach Carvalho and his current staff has fueled a lot of talk about removing them. The many coaching changes have hurt the ability for any consistency. Also, too many “helicopter” parents and community grumbling has hampered the program. It’s already known that a couple of boys have transferred out to Mililani and others planning to relocate to programs with coaching connections in Utah. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the beast today in high school athletics.

  2. HailFromDaNorth December 30, 2019 2:05 pm

    So true, @Hi and Fan. But I do agree that their needs to be a change to happen. Kahuku needs to balance out their offensive game. The old school way will not get them a state championship. They need someone to coach up the quarterbacks, they really need to work on their skills positions. I can understand the frustration for parents who want their kids to get a scholarship offer. If the team ain’t winning it’s hard to get looks for colleges. I like the fact of having a neutral coach, having a coach from the community might hinder some of the kids who are good, but because of family connections. Some kids won’t get to play over another kid, who’s family friends with the coach. Something needs to happen, something has to give. With a community that breeds talent, a program who’s won 8 state titles. Something needs to be done. I will always be true #RR4L but it’s sad to see the pride fading away. But don’t ever sleep on them red raiders.

  3. ahinalu December 30, 2019 3:34 pm

    Win or Lose. ” The Kahuku Red Raiders , The Pride of The North Shore “!

  4. rrforlifebaby December 30, 2019 4:20 pm

    Regardless of the kids who “bolt” for whatever reason, I’m really proud of this year’s team. They looked dead in the water during summer workouts, but the kids who stayed persisted and put together a winning season. As fans, we always expect to be hoisting the trophy at the end of the season, but things happen…it is what it is.

    Assuming most of this years underclassmen return, and most of the up and coming kids from JV stay, I look forward to another competitive team next year. St Louis’ dynasty won’t last forever. Just need to keep at it, work hard, fans need to be patient and supportive.


  5. 808 December 30, 2019 7:54 pm

    Get rid of Sterling Carvalho and hire a coach with real college connects so the players can get some looks from college coaches.

    Make Toma your OC. Have the offense do 7on7 in the offseason.

    If they RE-build it. Players will come back and players will stay.

  6. 96730289 December 30, 2019 8:19 pm

    @HI HS FAN…spot on!

    The community needs to support the players like years past regardless of who the coaches were. Heck, the community voted Torres out AFTER he gave you state titles. THAT’S CRAZY!!! Too many opinions on how the team should be ran. Don’t worry about college recruiting, because if you’re good, scouts will find you. Just get back to hard nosed Red Raider Football and fly around the field like the good old days. Kahuku won many titles without having the most skilled players, but they played with a different energy that no one could touch. Find it again!

    Good luck next year Red Raiders.

  7. ??? December 31, 2019 7:42 am

    Let the Kid’s play, The coaches coach and The refs ref !!
    TOO much parent influence in today’s kids sports from Pop Warner to High School.
    Not every kid will be a Manti Te’o or Tua Tagovailoa.

  8. ILoveHawaii December 31, 2019 8:49 am

    At what point do you step in?
    In letting the coaches continue to coach when they not winning despite having a talent filled team??

  9. Good Story December 31, 2019 7:49 pm

    You guys are all delusional…the coach serves at the pleasure of the AD and Principal. Former coaches are former coaches because to one degree or another they felt it beneath them to fight for their job. Coach Sterl just won the OIA championship, something that a lot of us couldn’t do. Get on board and support. Happy New Year!!!!

  10. BIG RED WORLDWIDE January 1, 2020 12:54 pm

    If Carvalho remains as HC:
    1. Find a QB coach to work with Adolpho. Kid has size and the arm strength. But needs coaching on techniques: footwork, release, accuracy.
    2. Roma as receiving & passing game coordinator.
    3. Need an OC versed in the Run-Pass-Option. Still need to run the ball. But develop the other two phases.
    4. A DC, that can build a solid core on the line and linebackers. Can’t blitz all the time. Defense needs to be rebuilt because of key losses to graduation.
    5. Special Teams need a coach who can have good return schemes. Kicking game has t improve, too.
    6. Coaching staff all needs to be on the same page. Can’t be influenced by parents, friends, or ex-players.
    7. Instill discipline, hardwork ethic, trust, and loyalty among coaches and team.
    8. Administration needs to keep hands-off/micromanaging of team.
    9. Community needs to get over the “once we were champions “ attitude and understand that it’s going to take a lot of change in culture to get back to being a powerhouse.

  11. ILoveHawaii January 3, 2020 9:14 am

    11. Disregard 1 and 3 thru 10
    12. Hire Reggie as HC.
    13. Bring Beatty back as DC.
    14. Bring in Chris as o-line coach and run game coordinator.
    15 Keep #2.
    16. Get rid of administration.
    17. Hukilau to cater after every game to feed the players.
    18. Former RR players that played in the NFL to donate money and JUST build a new stadium for the team.
    19. Also, build a new weightroom for the school.
    20. Mandatory Kumon for the football team to get these guys ready and prepared to qualify for college, not just to play football.

    Just my thoughts.

  12. Hau’ulaBoy January 5, 2020 12:10 pm

    Former NFL players aren’t billionaires. Some might be Millionaires. But it’s gonna take over 100 million to build in the below sea level stadium. My emphasis on some might be millionaires.

  13. HI HS FAN January 6, 2020 4:39 pm

    Adolpho can be a good QB if he has a legit QB coach. Mechanics and footwork are important, areas he needs to improve on to be the type of QB that can bring a passing game to Kahuku’s already potent running game. Toma, with his playing and coaching experience can be a good passing game coordinator. The offensive line needs to improve on pass and zone blocking techniques for Kahuku to bring a RPO style to their offense.

  14. 88 January 7, 2020 7:36 am

    OLine needs to hit the weight room. However I’m hearing some dumb rule prevents the kids from going on their own time to do this.

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