There were notable aspects of Kahuku’s 28-0 win over No. 4 Waianae up and down the board on Friday night.
It was a stellar night on special teams, where the top-ranked Red Raiders consistently set up good field position for their offense. It was certainly a dominant night defensively for coach Vavae Tata‘s squad, shutting out one of the state’s most potent offenses.
But it was also a memorable night because Elvis was in the building. Elvis Vakapuna‘s presence coincided with Kahuku’s scoring. Waianae’s defense, which was well prepared to slow the Red Raiders’ ground game down, didn’t have a counter move once Vakapuna became a larger part of offensive coordinator John Hao‘s attack.
“Our coaches did a great job of getting our subs in and taking care of business,” Hao said. “Elvis is great. We have so many running backs. I made it mandatory for running backs to play H-back, slotback, so we can get more athletes on the field. We’ve got four very good ones, two big boys up front and two shifty guys who can handle the ball.”
Vakapuna had two key receptions for first downs, both over the middle on passes from freshman Sol-Jay Maiava. But it was also his ability to beat defenders to the pylon that provided Kahuku with a cushion, opening the lead to seven, then 14 points. His touchdown runs of 11 and nine yards, and starting RB Harmon Brown added Kahuku’s third TD in the second half as the lead opened to 21-0.
Kahuku will run with power and size out of shotgun/trips formations, but in a showdown like this, there was a commitment to smashmouth football. No surprise. With that comes Hao’s expectations. His RBs aren’t limited in their roles.
“He wants us to play slot. He wants us blocking. To be a running back, you have to do three things: block, run and catch the ball. We had a lot of fun tonight,” Vakapuna said. “We were pumped up for the Waianae game. I’m not really from here, but hearing great stories about these guys, the rivalry, the history behind this game, I was pumped up.”
He was quick to credit everyone who paved his way.
“I give all my credit to them. I give credit to my fullbacks, Steven Lombard, (John Paul) Kefu, (offensive linemen) Ra (Elkington), Vili (Fisiiahi), all the boys,” said Vakapuna, a 5-foot-8, 186-pound junior. “I give all my credit to them.”
Not long ago, Vakapuna was a resident of South Jordan, Utah, playing for powerhouse Bingham.
“I miss it, but these guys, they’re very welcoming people, so I got comfortable fast,” Vakapuna said.
Vakapuna dedicated his game to the son-in-law of his position coach.
“He’s battling cancer,” Vakapuna said, pointing to a name on the back of his helmet that read “VETSON.”
“Hopefully, you get well,” he said.