The Kahuku Red Raiders can take heart that a season in which everything seems to go wrong still results in a trip to the state semifinals.
The new Open Division resulted in five losses and set the program back five years to 2013 when Reggie Torres was let go. Sterling Carvalho‘s first — and if history is any indication, only — season in charge started as well as any other Kahuku season with blowouts of Konawaena and Waianae and a win over Punahou.
Then Saint Louis knocked them into a tizzy with injuries on defense that they never seemed to recover from. Even with their lowest points per game (29.1) since Lee Leslie‘s lone year in 2014 and highest points allowed (24.1) since Torres’ final season, they still made the state semifinals.
Kahuku failed to shut out an opponent for the first time since 2013 and turn to the task of regrouping. The future is always bright in Kahuku, though, the last time they had so many losses in a season they rebounded to lose only seven the next four years under three coaches.
Kahuku has have lost 12 games in the last five years — Torres lost seven in his final five seasons.
2018 TOP PERFORMANCES
With Sol-Jay Maiava off to greener pastures and Enoch Nawahine matriculating to Boise State, the Red Raiders had to implement Carvalho’s offense on the fly. Robbie Sauvao took the reigns and didn’t miss a game, throwing for 1,576 yards to beat Maiava’s 1,541 although Sauvao had 25 more attempts. Sauvao was almost Maiava’s equal in touchdowns (14-15), but threw twice as many interceptions. (10-5). Thorton Alapa was effective in Sauvao’s stead, taking at least one snap in nine games and unleashing 25 passes for 15 receptions and 163 yards for one touchdown and a pick. Sauvao got plenty of work against Farrington, putting up 31 attempts and completing 10 of them for a season-high 228 yards with two touchdowns. That was his worst completion percentage by far until hitting on 30 percent in the state loss against Saint Louis, but he was over 60 percent against Punahou and completed more than half of his attempts only three times.
Wes Alo-Maiava led Kahuku’s three-headed monster in rushing with 460 yards and 10 touchdowns on 109 carries, and Zealand Matagi was right behind him with 449 yards on 96 carries with five scores. Fullback Toalei Lefau contributed 372 yards and four touchdowns on 87 carries. The trio averaged 4.4 yards per carry, which is outstanding at any other school except Kahuku, which averaged 6.1, 6.4, 6.3, 5.0 and 5.0 yards per carry by its top three rushers the previous five years. Alo-Maiava had the biggest game in the season opener, eating up 130 yards on only nine carries in a 61-9 blowout of Konawaena. He scored eight touchdowns in the team’s first three games but only two the rest of the way. The Red Raiders ended the season with six straight games without a 100-yard rusher and is in danger of matching the nine straight by the 2007-08 squads if it doesn’t hit the ground running next season.
Carvalho’s commitment to the pass made sense in a way, given the quality receivers he found. Mason Paulo led the way with 595 yards on 32 catches with seven touchdowns and found a running mate in Duke Heffernan, who caught 31 balls for 382 yards and two scores. Sauvao was able to spread the wealth, with seven different receivers catching more than eight passes and seven catching touchdown passes. That was in line with last year’s six different receivers catching more than eight and 11 different players scoring touchdowns, but a great improvement over the 2016 squad which had only one player catch that many balls with five scoring touchdowns. Paulo led this year’s group in receiving in six of the 12 games but had his best game against Farrington when he caught five passes for 135 yards and a touchdown after coming off a 6-89-2 line against Campbell the week prior. Paulo’s 135-yard effort was the school’s only time this season with a receiver over 100 yards and broke a 24-game stretch without one. It was Kahuku’s top receiving effort since Punga Vea went for 166 against Waianae to open the 2010 season and the most outside the friendly confines of Carlton Weimer field since Spencer Hafoka went for 171 against Aiea in 2004 at Aloha Stadium.
Kahuku failed to earn a shutout for the first time since 2013, but did throw its share of defensive gems against Kamehameha, Farrington and Konawaena. The biggest beatdown game came in a grudge match against Campbell in the OIA playoffs with a 27-7 Red Raider beatdown that Darren and Kawe Johnson would have appreciated had they not been on the opposite sideline. Carvalho made enough adjustments from a regular-season loss to the Sabers to hold Campbell to 88 yards rushing and 163 yards passing after giving up 259 through the air in the first meeting, including a meltdown in the final minute. Peter John Mataira and Ilaisa Fotu both had pick-sixes in the game and Kenai Liua contributed a sack. Tevita Faleta was the unsung hero of the effort, breaking up two huge passes when Campbell was threatening to score.
>> Sterling Carvalho is 7-5 after finishing his first season.
>> QB Robbie Sauvao finished fourth in the Open Division in passing yards.
>> FB Toalei Lefau finished sixth, RB Zealand Matagi finished seventh, QB Robbie Sauvao finished eighth and RB Wes Alo-Maiava finished ninth in the Open Division in rushing yards.
>> WR Mason Paulo finished eighth in the Open Division in receiving yards.
KEY UNDERCLASSMEN IN 2018
>> DB Alex Fonoimoana-Vaomu (5-11, 180), DB Peter John Mataira (5-8, 145), DB Kaonohi Kaniho (6-0, 180), LB Aaron Fonoimoana-Vaomu (5-11, 195), WR Mason Paulo (6-1, 175), QB Robbie Sauvao (6-3, 195), OL Micah Soliai-Howlett (6-4, 305), DT Zion Ah You (5-9, 250).
FINAL TEAM STATS