Elephant in room; elephant package not as much

Kesi Ah-Hoy moved from quarterback to free safety this season and was a large force in helping Kahuku to its second straight state championship game. Cindy Ellen Russell / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Kesi Ah-Hoy moved from quarterback to free safety this season and was a large force in helping Kahuku to its second straight state championship game. Cindy Ellen Russell / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Nobody’s talking about the elephant in the room, and now is a good time to get the conversation started.

Or should we call it the elephant package that wasn’t used as much as it could have been?

The focus right now is squarely and deservedly on Saint Louis, and more specifically on star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after the Crusaders’ 30-14 victory over Kahuku for the Open Division championship Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.


But that focus up until kickoff (actually, it was up until a fourth-quarter fumble that started the night’s wheel of fate against Kahuku) was keenly on the Red Raiders. Oddly enough, it was the opposite circumstance from one year ago, when all eyes were on how unstoppable the Saint Louis offense was until Kahuku shut it down for the top-tier title.

2015 was the year when Kahuku went untraditional in the stretch run and used its elephant package almost exclusively on offense, a perfect complement to an unyielding defense that will be long remembered as one of the best — if not the best — units the state has seen.

And that’s the crux of this article. The offensive personnel used in that jumbo package did not change drastically in one year, so why go back to a traditional I-formation offense most of the time this year?

It’s a legitimate question — the elephant in the room that nobody is talking about. You could also call it second-guessing from the peanut gallery. A call to Kahuku head coach Vavae Tata Monday afternoon in an effort to ask that question was not immediately answered.

A year ago, when Kesi Ah-Hoy ran that elephant package from the quarterback position to the state-title victory, many around the state thought the move was brilliant. Tata had no problem whatsoever with all but abandoning the passing game.

The Red Raiders’ offensive plan was: “OK, we’ve got everybody bunched up tight and we’re going to push forward. Stop us, if you can. Snap the ball to Kesi over and over again and have fun tackling him.”

It worked.

This season, some of the offensive attention turned to freshman quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava, who had received an offer in the summer from Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.


Before the season started, it was hard to know what Tata would do with the situation. A QB who hasn’t seen one varsity snap walking on to a team that has built its legacy on the run? There were many who thought Tata would use Maiava sparingly and break him in gradually through the years.

But it turned out that Maiava became the starting quarterback and stayed in that post all season, with the Red Raiders running mostly from the “I” formation. Maiava had his share of success in both passing and running and he was a factor in leading the Red Raiders to the title game.

It seemed quite possible, though, that Ah-Hoy — who started as the free safety all season — would be put in at quarterback when Kahuku needed that bit of magic. Maybe for the biggest game of the regular season, when Kahuku went to Bishop Gorman in September? But that didn’t happen.

The argument could be made that Ah-Hoy, who is a truly gifted athlete and can play anywhere on the field, was needed on defense. It’s a good argument, too, but we’re talking about the quarterback who rushed the ball 30 times for 103 yards and three touchdowns to beat the Crusaders last year. So that argument can go both ways.

And so there the Red Raiders were in the state final Saturday night, showing off their rugged ground game against Saint Louis. Harmon Brown and Elvis Vakapuna and others ripped off some big gains behind that massive offensive line. Some of the plays were run out of that elephant package, too, and Kahuku got temporary leads of 7-6 and 14-13.

But that elephant package was not used like it had been in 2015, and there was no sign of Ah-Hoy on offense until he was called on for six carries late in the game. In a short-yardage goal-line situation that would have given Kahuku another lead, though, Ah-Hoy fumbled it away and into the waiting hands of Saint Louis’ Isaiah Tufaga in the Crusaders’ end zone in the fourth quarter. Saint Louis drove down to score on the other end to make it 23-14 and the tides had turned for good.

As it turned out, Maiava — on the rare times he dropped back to pass — was hounded by Saint Louis’ defensive line. He went 0-for-3 and was sacked three times.


Perhaps the Red Raiders could have used Ah-Hoy a bit more on offense during the season, preparing him for the eventuality that they may need him when everything was on the line. They actually did go to him in a crucial situation on offense. But was he fully ready for it? Did he have enough live reps?

You hear coaches say, “Give the ball to your horse.” Sure, Kahuku has a ton of horses and it is hard to pick which one to ride, but one of the best Red Raiders football players ever, Kesi Ah-Hoy, proved last year that he was “THE” horse and he didn’t get a real chance to do it again this year.

COMMENTS

  1. Jeezy33 November 22, 2016 9:54 am

    Alpha November 22, 2016 at 9:19 am
    Yes you obviously know your stuff, makes me wonder why so much knowledge being wasted on me rather then putting it to actual good use. If you can take the time breakdown my comments and so much others on here you can actually help the oia out, or even Soljay. . . ”

    a) i don’t live anywhere near kahuku. b) how do you know i’m not involved with high school athletes?

    ” I have a question. Is it possible for Soljay to play ball at the next level? Whats your take. And if so, will it be at qb? The boy has shown speed and promise after this freshmen season to play more then just qb.”

    kahuku always has athletes. sol jay is a big freshman, what is he like 6’1 180 pounds? There are full grown men who aren’t as big as him. Will he play qb at the division I level? not unless he takes intensive private coaching because it doesn’t seem like he’s getting that kind of development in kahuku.

    Will he play D-I at another position? It’s a long ways yet. Kids develop A LOT between their freshmen and junior years. even senior. With teens, every year they’re like a different person. If he switches positions or develops into a kesi ah-hoy type qb who runs the ball effectively and plays multiple positions, then i can see it.


  2. Coach_B November 22, 2016 10:11 am

    I’m not sure what the argument is here anymore…

    For those arguing that Kahuku could’ve won if they just ran the elephant offense the whole game, you are probably right. They could have, but if you guys want to see more out of state games like the one against BG then they might wanna think about changing their offense to something more conventional. When I mean conventional I’m not talking about running an ILH style offense w/ Maiava passing 30 times a game. I’m talking about something closer to what Kahuku ran under Reggie Torres. He ran the I formation, shotgun, some option plays, and he passed the ball around 10-20 times a game, but he still had a run-based O. I’m sure you guys remember his success with that offense. Wouldn’t you want to be able to score fast if you HAD too.

    As for Maiava, from my experience coaching, he seems to be a fantastic young athlete with room to grow. I agree that he needs time to grow and that his hype is all based on potential right now, but growth comes from experience a lot of times. If they let him pass maybe 10-15 times a game next year that would be a great development, and if they are so dead set on running the ball he is still athletic enough to be the distributor in an option offense that occasionally takes deep shots.

    Developing players and winning games don’t have to be mutually exclusive and it rarely is.


  3. TheHeartlessPrick November 22, 2016 10:13 am

    Ohhreally November 22, 2016 at 7:37 am
    Prick – you mean the Iolani team that couldnt beat the OIA #5 TEAM?? funny you mention them but not ILH #2 Punahou or #3 Kam who both lost to OIA teams you dont believe to be legitimate compition. Obviously your a biased Prick with a one sided view!!

    Waianae beats Kamehameha, Kamehameha doesn’t make the D1 playoffs. Coincidence, the director of HHSAA Chris Chun is an Iolani grad. Not the reason why Iolani is there but just a coincidence.
    Which leads to STL just molested Waianae in the semi finals. The game was an example of who belongs & who doesn’t. And also trickles down to Waianae beating Kamehameha is irrelevant.

    Punahou beats STL regular season & loses to Kapolei in the Open Division Semi Final. Kapolei gets tbagged by Kahuku in the state semi finals. Now take note that Kapolei also lost to Waianae in the regular season. So how relevant is a Kapolei loss to Waianae if both teams didn’t make it to the dance?

    The bottom line is the winless D1 ILH regular season Iolani made it to the D1 Championship. If a winless D1 ILH team making it that far against potential Open Division OIA teams doesn’t tell you one thing. Than I don’t know what to tell you. You gotta take into consideration Mililani was in the running to make it to the Open Division. Iolani was dead in the water all season long.


  4. Alpha November 22, 2016 10:19 am

    @jeezy. . . I don’t live anywhere Kahuku as well but seeing the talent that comes out of one community is very impressive. I only suggested that you and the vast knowledge of the game help out the oia or even Soljay.

    Can you please elaborate on this comment you made. ” OIA coaches are really just volunteers working with the kids.

    What separates ILH coaches according to your statement?


  5. TheHeartlessPrick November 22, 2016 10:23 am

    Are we still talking about the “Michigan Recruit”? You guys ain’t tired of breaking down what he’s lacking & he’s barley D1 potential?

    The kid can only run a Kahuku offense. 7 on 7 is nothing without pressure. He can’t throw on the move & instead of stepping up in the pocket he runs backwards. If he expects to be a QB he better start doing some private sessions outside of Kahuku. Failing in a one read Pop Warner style pass playbook isn’t getting you to the “Big House”. And throwing off the wrong foot while on the move is likely to be better off throwing with the opposite hand. Its bad, move him to RB, SB/WR or even some Special Teams duties returning the ball. Utilize his athletic ability rather than smother him in a one dimensional offense.


  6. Education First November 22, 2016 12:52 pm

    @ TheHeartlessPrick, I wonder why no one mentions that Punahou’s QB was sent to the hospital with a concussion and couldn’t finish the game. Please correct me if I am wrong. But Kapule got hurt in the middle of quarter 3 (or little before) and the game was tied or nearly.

    Take nothing away from Kapolei who did well, but other than Kahuku who uses their QB’s to just hand the ball off, losing your QB around the middle of the game is a pretty huge factor.


  7. TheHeartlessPrick November 22, 2016 1:09 pm

    Education First November 22, 2016 at 12:52 pm
    @ TheHeartlessPrick, I wonder why no one mentions that Punahou’s QB was sent to the hospital with a concussion and couldn’t finish the game. Please correct me if I am wrong. But Kapule got hurt in the middle of quarter 3 (or little before) and the game was tied or nearly.

    Take nothing away from Kapolei who did well, but other than Kahuku who uses their QB’s to just hand the ball off, losing your QB around the middle of the game is a pretty huge factor.

    ————————-

    That is correct. And what they also failed to mention was how the Punahou backup qb marched down the field & responded. Remember guys, this backup kid can start any OIA school including Mililani where Gabriel’s dad is his own coach.


  8. TheHeartlessPrick November 22, 2016 1:28 pm

    Pertaining to the article:

    Elephant Package in 2015: PRESENT
    Elephant Package in 2016: M.I.A.


  9. Rough Rider November 22, 2016 1:29 pm

    Talking about talent, Public school uses what in their district or who move into the district, Private school give these kids opportunity to attend these schools or offer scholarship, they allowed like everyone else to look for talent around our State. Each one (ILH or OIA) have their own POLICY and PROCEDURE. So we all need to continue to support our KIDs and community. Congratulation to Saint Louis and Kahuku………..GO BIG RED, Its was good to see Cal Lee receiving the trophy…….KAHUKU FAN 2nd to NONE……. Can’t wait for my kids turn. Here something funny: My twin boys went for testing at Kamehameha School, so they said a prayer ” Heavenly Father bless us that we do good, even though we no like go there, cause we going to KAHUKU” That’s my boys………….Aloha


  10. Kahuku Alumni November 22, 2016 2:56 pm

    Everyone saw that Sol Jay is not a QB. Even if they went away from the elephant offense he is not accurate. No disrespect but anyone can throw against Radford, Aiea, Campbell, etc…..

    That was a political offer from Michigan. At least he got an offer but just hope they don’t take it away cause nothing really matters until He actually gets papers to sign. That’s why even with John Hao they still went with the Run cause Sol Jay was not accurate. Not hating just stating facts. Even his step dad is clueless. If you his parents want to leave Kahuku then leave. Where you going? Nobody wants an inaccurate Qb. Well don’t take it personal just being real. If Jordan stayed they would probably have a better chance of winning Saturday. Fa Miki


  11. Jeezy33 November 22, 2016 4:31 pm

    Alpha, “Can you please elaborate on this comment you made. ” OIA coaches are really just volunteers working with the kids.”

    OIA coaches get paid, at most, $600 for an entire season, and that’s for the head coach. Factor in the amount of hours they work outside of their regular jobs (usually they’re teachers or counselors) and they’re almost working for free. This includes vavae tata, rod york, or whoever.

    “What separates ILH coaches according to your statement?”

    idk ILH pay scales because I never coached in the ILH (although I have friends who do) but I imagine it’s more money, but not significantly so. If you’re hired as a football coach in the ILH, i think they give you a position as faculty (teacher [although dont’ get it twisted, if you’re teaching in a private school in hawaii, you are qualified to teach with great credentials], college outreach counselor or whatever cal lee is, etc) and a small stipend.

    People coaching in high schools for ANY sport in hawaii aren’t doing it for the money. This isn’t texas where they pay a high school football coach six figures. They do it for the love of the game and the love of working and developing the kids.


  12. Lisa Vaimoui November 22, 2016 5:37 pm

    All you damned crybabies on both sides of the line, get the hell over it, the game is done. Move on! It’s pathetic that a sport has brought out the devil in a lot of people. You people are sick. Why can’t we all just rise up, accept what is or isn’t and just move forward?

    To the CRUSADERS of ST. LOUIS…a big CONGRATS on your victory, especially to my nephew Isaiah Tufaga who played one hell of a game.

    To the RED RAIDER of KAHUKU…my ALMA MATER…CONGRATS on a great and hard fought game. Learn, regroup and reload…next year is another year.

    FOOTBALL is a game, it’s NOT LIFE!!!

    GOD & FAMILY is LIFE!!!

    Side note: why y’all gotta hide behind a FAKE NAME. Step up, stop hiding! Fricken’ grow the hell up!


  13. Alpha November 22, 2016 5:47 pm

    @jeezy. . . Thanks


  14. TheHeartlessPrick November 22, 2016 8:58 pm

    Elephant Package > Michigan Package


  15. Kahuku Alumni November 22, 2016 11:08 pm

    Lmao well as long as everyone knows that Sol Jay is not a Qb. He’s really good at handing off the ball to the running backs. And there was a video of a fwam name Mika tufuga who had the nerve to send a message to the St. Louis community. Dude go valu some popo at PCC. This guy said St. Louis had 19 year old players????? Sol jay will be 19 before he graduates. Same goes for Kesi Ahoy who will is already 19. So don’t talk when you are clueless. Just be humble that your family left Samoa cause you were struggling and moves to the North shore to struggle again?? Dude that’s why da focus can’t be football but has to be academics. Just be thankful a St. Louis alumni came to help your school to focus on football and academics. Have a safe and aloha thanksgiving week. Fa Miki


  16. Facts November 22, 2016 11:18 pm

    Kahuku will continue to dominate here in the state of Hawaii with their elephant package. If they want to compete nationally against the power houses then they are going to have to implement more passing.


  17. BinghamFootball November 23, 2016 7:54 am

    That Tua kid is going to do great in the next level but I think he should go to another college.. That freshman kid hurts at bama is no joke! With him there he ain’t gonna get no playing time.. don’t worry Kahuku saint louis ain’t going to do nothing without tua though..next year I think Kahuku should play bingham.. cuz if we play saint louis that’s gonna be another easy win for us hahahahaha


  18. TheHeartlessPrick November 23, 2016 1:45 pm

    BinghamFootball November 23, 2016 at 7:54 am
    That Tua kid is going to do great in the next level but I think he should go to another college.. That freshman kid hurts at bama is no joke! With him there he ain’t gonna get no playing time.. don’t worry Kahuku saint louis ain’t going to do nothing without tua though..next year I think Kahuku should play bingham.. cuz if we play saint louis that’s gonna be another easy win for us hahahahaha
    ___________________________________
    St. Louis without Tua is like Kahuku without their overrated secondary that everyone hyped them out to be. Moving in concrete, cannot play man on man, not physical enough to hit a Qb in the open field.
    Bingham? Hawaii doesn’t care about “Bingham” leave the trash talk where you come from & stay on the topic of two Hawaii’s best high school football teams. Bingham? Gtfo!


  19. Pick Six November 23, 2016 4:06 pm

    @Kahuku Alumni, you could always voice your opinion on “Code Red “, just saying….


  20. Match96Rem November 23, 2016 5:49 pm

    Everyone just shaaaaadup and let the kids prove themselves. Right now you all sound like dumb little puppies barking for no reason. Let the kids play the game. Freaking clowns!!!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiprepworld@staradvertiser.com.

*