Clutch adjustment keys Campbell’s upset of Kahuku

Campbell quarterback Krenston Kaipo led the game-winning drive to beat Kahuku on Saturday. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

Kawe Johnson has always had a knack for excellence.

He also had the clutch gene as a two-way standout at Kahuku, becoming the Star-Advertiser defensive player of the year as a senior.

On Saturday night, it was Johnson’s ability to analyze, and then communicate with his offensive unit at Campbell that showed that he hasn’t lost that gift. Now offensive coordinator at Campbell, Johnson called a timeout in the final minute and made a key adjustment. Because of Campbell’s clutch execution down the stretch, the No. 6 Sabers rallied past No. 4 Kahuku — Johnson’s alma mater — in a 28-27 thriller.

Instead of Johnson making brilliant plays on the field — or on the basketball court — it was sophomore wide receiver Titus Mokiao-Atimalala who was Mr. Clutch with his hands and feet. The transfer from Kapolei, along with teammates like Poki‘i Adkins-Kupukaa (four catches, 84 yards, TD), pulled ironman double duty for this pivotal game. He finished with game-highs of nine receptions for 147 yards.

Mokiao-Atimalala, a 6-foot-1 speedster, was also on the field playing defensive back as Kahuku went on an astounding 18-play drive to score a go-ahead touchdown with 50 seconds left. It was textbook, classic Kahuku ground-and-pound. It was an epic series that took 8 minutes off the clock. It should’ve been more than enough to tire out Campbell’s ironmen.

There was one glitch in Kahuku’s dramatic drive. An injury to its regular holder on the PAT meant that a backup was in place. The ball was mishandled on the snap, no kick, no point. It was, seemingly, a forgone conclusion with so little time left, and a normally stingy — and well-rested — Kahuku defensive unit taking the field.

So how on earth did Campbell, with platooning quarterback Krenston Kaipo at the controls, cover 80 yards in four snaps? The Sabers used their one remaining timeout along the way. But… how?

“When we got off the field for the kickoff, Coach Kawe told us to work the shorts,” Mokiao-Atimalala said. “Get as much yards as you can and get out of bounds, save the clock.”

Kahuku lined up three deep.

“Every day at practice, we’ve been working through this. Kaipo gave me confidence, and I have confidence in him, too. He told me to make the play, and I told him, I told my boys, I got you guys,” Mokiao-Atimalala said. “This win is for them.”

>> With little more than 40 seconds on the clock, Kaipo connected with Mokiao-Atimalala along the left sideline, and he fell out of bounds for a 21-yard gain to the Campbell 41.

>> Next snap, Kaipo went to Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala, Titus’ older brother, for a magnificent, diving 30-yard reception. Again, it was down the left sideline, perfect for the southpaw, Kaipo.

>> Kaipo’s next pass, intended for Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, fell incomplete. Timeout, Campbell.

That’s when Johnson made a crucial adjustment. But would his receivers be able to execute? Would Kaipo be able to sell it with his eyes?

“My brother and Poki‘i and Christian (Quiambao), I mean all of us are just threats, you know?” Titus Mokiao-Atimalala said. “We saw that they had a corner down on top of me and a safety over. Kawe just told my brother (Tamatoa) run a post so he could pull down the safety, just so I could go one on one. We tweaked it in the huddle. Kawe just made it up right there on the spot.”

Campbell’s Christian Quiambao caught a pass as a Kahuku defender grabbed him in the second quarter. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

It’s not a surprise that the foursome Campbell field in its four-wide shotgun attack is nearly unstoppable. But since roughly the midway point last season, coach Darren Johnson opted to utilize Adkins-Kupukaa on defense. That changed on Saturday as he he used his best athletes the same way Kahuku used his son, Kawe, on both sides of the ball en route to a state title.

So Kaipo set up, took a blast from the blitzing Red Raiders, and fired a strike down the left side. His spiral hit Titus Mokiao-Atimalala in stride at the pylon. A 29-yard touchdown with 19 seconds left.

All that was left — the PAT attempt by Jadon Arola. His kick was perfect, the Sabers took the lead for good, and Kahuku’s final two plays from scrimmage didn’t get past midfield.

It began up front with an O-line that permitted just two sacks against a fierce Kahuku front seven. It also began in the pocket, where Kaipo and Kaniela Kalaola bravely took massive hits as they delivered passes. The two combined to complete 17 passes in 26 attempts for 279 yards with no turnovers. Each QB threw a TD pass.

“I’m just proud of them. I believe that they did well. I’m just thankful for them,” Titus Mokiao-Atimalala said.

The win was crucial in the OIA Open Division standings. Kahuku dropped to 1-2 with its first back-to-back losses in the regular season since 1996. Campbell moved ahead into second place at 2-1.

With four teams qualifying for the playoffs, the top two will host semifinal games. Titus Mokiao-Atimalala doesn’t care where the Sabers play.

Campbell might end up hosting Kahuku in the playoffs.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “I feel like we will come back and work harder. We going to have a bye week and watch film, study their plays more. Make our corrections on this game.”

Playing defense was, perhaps, not as fun as offense. For Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, it was rewarding in victory.

“Me, my brother, Poki‘i and Peter (Manuma), we all talked about it before the game. We told each other that we’re going to have to hydrate. We’re going to have to stretch extra,” he said.

Titus Mokiao-Atimalala got a lot of instruction from his linebackers. With Tyrese Tafai (shoulder) out for the season, Campbell took another blow when Jeremiah Tauai suffered an injury. Kahuku’s elephant attack took a toll. If Titus Mokiao-Atimalala or any of his teammates in the secondary find themselves with linebacking duties soon, it wouldn’t be a shock. But that would another story for another day.

Campbell teammates slapped hands with Pokii Adkins-Kupukaa after he scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.


  1. Rrforlifebaby October 7, 2018 1:11 am

    Good job Kawe. Loved watching you play back in the day. Hurts you did it against your alma mater, but it is what it is. You will be a great head coach one day.


  2. Hammer October 7, 2018 8:28 am

    So you kahuku cry babies what excuses you used now Campbell is recruiting the referees and not but least the coaches very good winners very poor losers the blame game will never end and excuses

  3. 88 October 7, 2018 9:33 am

    It’s the ILH’s Agenda that caused Kahuku to lose.

  4. 88 October 7, 2018 9:39 am

    What’s classic is when we was winning there was 40-50 Kahuku posters on here. Now that we suck, there are like 5 guys. Where you at uso’s?


  5. ??? October 7, 2018 9:45 am

    Big Win for Campbell…

  6. YOUGOTSPANKED October 7, 2018 1:13 pm

    Just blame it on the St. LOUIS. THEY SPANKED THEM FIRST. Then cry that the sabers SPANKED them too… ahahahahahah

  7. Hammer October 7, 2018 2:44 pm

    Check it out when you have a state tournament to declare the best teams in the state you don’t run the tournament the way the crooked OIA has run the tournament this year the best teams in the state played each other so what they should do is take the top 4 teams in the state and have a them play each other the real way is number 1 plays number 4 2 plays number 3 but the crooked OIA cheat all the time just like last year when st louis was rank number 1 in the state all year in the playoffs they mililani then kahuku the sports don’t do that why I ask the same question why the ILH teams had to play the OIA teams in their backyard I read some dummy said the ILH teams don’t have a stadium look at kamehameha and Iolani and you can play at a neutral fields like how any OIA schools do it’s sad that this bull shit system will keep the number 1 or number 2 team won’t be playing in the state tournament nobody in America has that format

  8. Eatsidaz October 7, 2018 2:52 pm

    Campbell has some outstanding Coaches. The lineage of the Johnson Ohana has rich iknowledge! The also have one of the best QB Coaches in the islands named Keli’i Tilton. If you don’t believe, go show up at one of his clinics in the off season or go to Campbless practices to watch him work with the Quarterbacks. From mechanics, to understanding coverages and making the right reads to feet work and beyond. Coach Tilton has the ability to Coach on the college level! Just wait until you see that JV Quarterback from Campbell in action next year. That young QB is a product of Coach Tiltons stable. Campbell is blessed with DC Coach Mike as well. Another prime time big time coach. The Sabers probably have one of the most knowleagable and game wealth expertise of any coaching staff that has been put together in a long time. Much props to the players and much props to the Coaches/Teachers of the Saber Squad. Congrats to Campbell High School for choosing the right Coach to elevate this football program. It’s only going get better for them Sabers!!

  9. Eastsidaz October 7, 2018 2:57 pm

    DC Coach Mika not Mike..

  10. CynHyn October 7, 2018 3:05 pm

    When you get hit in the head with a Hammer, you start writing 100 word rambling sentences that make’s no sense.

  11. CynHyn October 7, 2018 3:07 pm

    Dummy, Kamehameha and Iolani had home games this year.

  12. Hammer October 7, 2018 3:28 pm

    How many one each look at mililani kapolei kahuku farrington even Campbell maybe you guys are not that smart to understand what a neutral field means I give you credit you believe you guy’s own lies if you guys going text at least stop talking crap

  13. OG RR October 7, 2018 4:10 pm

    It was a hard fought game, congrats to the Sabers!! And DJ and his staff. Nobody is crying, theres nobody to blame but ourselves. The inconsistency of Changing coaching Staff every dam year has shown through out the season. I feel for our boys, it’s something they’ve endured these past 6 years, we always hire people outside that’s always trying to change our identity on offense. That’s the truth right there . Our Administration sits on their high horse and judge our alumni coaches !!!! And they bring in coaches that wants to pass and pass and pass!! We breed runners, run blockers and defenders. Now our kids lost their identity. Coaches from other schools Fears the Run and Laughs at our passing game. It takes years, look at Waianae, the pass was their downfall. They’re the same DNA as us . But we’re following in their footsteps!!! I just feel for our Seniors!! The Run is was set us apart from the rest. Now we got a another passing clown as a coach!!!! We will Bounce Back….. sooner or later RRFL

  14. Hammer October 7, 2018 5:34 pm

    Oh RR you are right for starters get rid of you guy’s AD are who ever getting these coaches they suck

  15. phILHarmonic October 8, 2018 8:12 am

    Reggie, Reggie, Reggie………………………

  16. Hammer October 8, 2018 9:42 am

    You right REGGIE is the answer for kahuku get rid of the AD then bring REGGIE back happy time in the north shore again take a page out of st louis book they got rid of the AD now gerald Welch is the AD better time for st louis now kahuku got to understand it’s start from the top not the coaches the AD get the community together and do the right good luck

  17. phILHarmonic October 8, 2018 11:11 am

    Reggie is the answer.

    Im just curious. Can one of you in the know explain why he left or was not retained??

    He is a community guy, high on academics, VERY organized and a student of the game. Whats up with this?

  18. Hammer October 8, 2018 11:45 am

    You want my opinion it was politics he is kahuku best choice he understands what kahuku stands for dam you don’t tut he fuckin ball more then run ball that’s not kahuku.they not built for that now like said it’s start from the top so get rid of your AD that’s the problem bring in these pop Warner coaches thank god st louis A D is gerald Welch now there’s no stopping st louis kahuku please learn from that good luck

  19. Hammer October 8, 2018 11:53 am

    Think about this three years three new coaches with all different ways of coaching can imagine the guys there going crazy sol Jay us thinking that’s best he ever been but I know he feels bad for his team mates I am a crusader but feel for the guys they deserve better the community please help them out AD must go remember it’s all about best for the guys

  20. Farney October 8, 2018 3:30 pm

    Gerald Welch is AD at STL? You know as akid, the lights from Kahuku field lit up his room. There on Leleuli Street. Jim as the Tufaga’s. RR is spreading the aloha.

  21. Education First October 8, 2018 4:38 pm

    Reggie doesn’t want anything to do with the Red Raiders. I recall when they first hired Reggie. Reggie wanted to elevate academics and set more stringent rules to play on his team that aligned with higher academics.

    There were parents waiting by the practice field and his car waiting to confront him. That just shows how backwards many people think.

    And now you guys want him back? That’s just asinine.

  22. Nala October 8, 2018 9:49 pm

    Here goes hammer. The sacred heart cheer leader . Running his mouth again. Donkey shut up….

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