Fans glimpse 2016 version of Kahuku FB

Kahuku freshman quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava pointed to his blockers while scrambling for a 21-yard gain in the Red Raiders' 49-15 win over Leilehua in Wahiawa on Friday night. Jamm Aqunio / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Kahuku freshman quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava pointed to his blockers while scrambling for a 21-yard gain in the Red Raiders’ 49-15 win over Leilehua in Wahiawa on Friday night. Jamm Aqunio / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Up until Friday night, it had been all practices and scrimmages for the 2016 Kahuku football team.

The Red Raiders didn’t play in the first week of the season last weekend, so lots of Hawaii fans were itching to see what this team has going for it this time around. The last time they hit the field, it was for the state championship to wrap up an undefeated season in Vavae Tata‘s first season as the head coach last November.

Yes, Kahuku got past Leilehua by a comfortable 49-15 margin in Wahiawa on Friday, but it never felt like the Red Raiders were blowing their opponents off the field. As a matter of fact, Leilehua got to within seven points, 14-7, with 5:36 left before halftime.

Defensively, Kahuku struggled at times against the Mules (0-2), who moved the chains on the accurate arm of Kona Andres. Believe it or not, the 15 points Kahuku gave up are the most against a Tata-led Red Raiders team. The most points allowed in the 13 games in 2015 was 14 in the state final victory over Saint Louis.

“We have a lot of young guys trying to get accustomed to the schemes,” Tata said after Friday’s win.

Added cornerback Stokes Botelho: “Our goal as a whole is to come out with a goose egg every week, give the other team zero points, so after (the game against Leilehua) we gotta come back next week and work hard and pick it up. Everybody’s just gotta do their part and we’ll be good.”

Kesi Ah-Hoy, who played safety and receiver for the Red Raiders, said nerves were the cause of the relatively slow start and that the team picked up steam as the game went on.

Botelho came up huge twice on kickoff returns. Both were up the middle and both were behind a wall of three blockers. The first one was a 71-yarder that set up Harmon Brown’s 11-yard touchdown to steal the momentum away from Leilehua and make the score 21-7.

Botelho took it to the house for a 94-yard kickoff return later in the game and said afterward that instead of peeling off at the end like he did the first time, he stayed right behind his blockers. Botelho also kicked seven extra points.

Earlier, Tema Lindsay forced a Mules fumble that led to Ah-Hoy’s 82-yard return for a touchdown for 14-0 edge.

Ah-Hoy was galloping all night. He caught three passes for 36 yards and had a 40-yard punt return. A year ago, Ah-Hoy played quarterback out of the elephant package and it was mostly steaming fairly straight ahead. On Friday, Ah-Hoy had the twinkle toes working, putting on the side-step moves to elude tacklers.

“In the elephant, you just gotta go,” he said. “In the spread offense (or punt returns), you have a little bit of room to make moves, so I just wanted to display that.”

Ah-Hoy made a big play in the end zone against Leilehua receiver Charles Watson, who had beaten cornerback Kekaula Kaniho by a step and had the ball for a split second before Ah-Hoy gave him a hit that knocked the ball out. It didn’t stop Leilehua this time, though. The Mules scored on the same drive a little later for that 14-7 count.

Going into the game, there was no lock on how Kahuku (1-0) would come out on offense, and there will probably be no lock on that as the weeks go by.

“We want to be multi,” Tata said.

The Red Raiders had four basic looks on offense — one with freshman Sol-Jay Maiava at the controls of a wide-open attack, one with Cameron Renaud as the quarterback of a traditional-look attack, one with Harmon Brown as the quarterback taking shotgun snaps and following the whole team in between the right and left tackles, and one with Royce Pao doing the same as Brown. Brown and Pao are doing what Ah-Hoy did much of the latter part of last season.

Maiava, who already has an offer to Michigan, threw for 108 yards in his first high school start, including his first touchdown pass, a 23-yarder to Pao.

In a pregame interview, Tata said the offensive line is the strength of the team, and they looked really solid Friday. Guys were shuffling in and out, but it appears that Enokk Vimahi, Silva Toelupe, Vili Fisiiahi, Marcus Lombard and Terauparaha Elkington got most of the playing time.

Defensively, it’s no comparison so far against last season’s Kahuku unit. You don’t snap your fingers and replace Keala Santiago, Bradlee Anae, Manaia Atuaia and Hirkley Latu. With those guys and more leading the way, Kahuku won its opener 50-0 over Campbell in 2015.

That doesn’t mean this defense is lacking. We may never see a better defense again like we did with the Red Raiders in 2015. It’s a work in progress right now, and with the defensive-minded Tata drawing it up, you can bet they’ll be improving steadily and be much more ready to play in the year’s biggest regular-season game as far as Hawaii high school football is concerned — Sept. 17 at two-time defending national rankings champion Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas.

Kaniho had a fumble recovery, Aliki Vimahi had a sack and Ah-Hoy and Logan Matagi both had a tackle for loss.

The Red Raiders’ home opener is against Aiea next Friday. Na Alii (1-0) went on the road to defeat Nanakuli 27-14, also on Friday night.


  1. Hahashandah August 13, 2016 1:32 am

    Passing? Passing? we don’t need no stinking passing. Lol blazing saddles throwback. GOBIGRED

  2. Hahashandah August 13, 2016 1:46 am

    My bad that comment was in bad taste. Run, pass, it’s all rrfl. Good luck all.

  3. 87 August 13, 2016 7:02 am

    54 man roster 37 suited up, 7 starters did not play. Continue to work hard boys stay focused.

  4. Alpha August 13, 2016 7:05 am

    Damn, I could have wrote this article. It’s so easy to compare last yrs team to this yr. And why not mention Maiava showed some great footwork under pressure, He might not have Taulia freshman stats in the passing game, but he sure does know how to extend a play while the pocket starts to collapse around him. It seams like it was a hard task to give Kahuku props in this article. Nothing on how Kahuku scored on all phases of the game last night, talking bout four basic looks on offense? Well excuse us June Jones Jr if Kahuku didn’t come out in an elaborate package. But I swear the 2015 team won states by the same formula, “basic” play to your strength offense, shutdown “D”. Props to Leilehua, their QB is a good one, their “D” created their own turnovers and to their punt team for converting on couple 4th downs to keep the champs on their toes…. a little side note: Leilehua is doing way better then Campbell last season and this one as well so let’s give props where it’s due.

  5. The Rim August 13, 2016 7:31 am

    @Alpha- Yes, Maiava did have a few bright spots but in my opinion, Renaud was the better more crisp passer by far. Maiava has youth on his side and time to improve, but Renaud clearly the better option for their passing game.

  6. IDK August 13, 2016 7:38 am

    ^^^Here we go again crying about the article, just let it be you fuam and everything will work itself out. You’re part of the 64% of the complainers from Kahuku, it’s so irraz! Give it a Break, you’re making Kahuku fans look bad already and the season just started!

  7. MrWendall August 13, 2016 7:57 am

    Like the man Larry Price always says “Physical domination cancel e theory surfing 1933 katoosh team all wac jlajkleroin lkanl boy look at him run!”

  8. Chloropicrin August 13, 2016 8:09 am

    What’s the knock on Kahuku QB #30? He had zip on his passes.

  9. 87 August 13, 2016 8:10 am

    Renaud throws a tight accurate spiral but he is one dimentional so dont get caught up in the flag football style of play that is taking over the island. Maiava, only a freshman mind you, is good enough at this point to manage a balanced Kahuku offense, I can see why he was offered by Michigan. The key is how he developes year to year.

  10. The Rim August 13, 2016 8:34 am

    @87- I respectfully disagree with your assessment of Renaud, that was a 11 on 11 game last night not pass league. If you gave him the same amount of reps as Maiava, he would have had at least three TD passes. No knock on Maiava but yes, he is a freshman and you can clearly see they are giving him the necessary reps to get better and comfortable. Make no mistake, the smash mouth offense was far superior to any passing game they displayed last night. Third and long and they bring in the jumbo set to get a first down or TD. Just let the Maiava boy ease into his comfort level and grow with the program.

  11. Alpha August 13, 2016 8:55 am

    @IDK….. yea you really “Don’t Know”….. it’s my opinion and that’s why there’s a comment section under all these articles, so we can share it!!!! You don’t have to take it personal and start name calling cause your muli sore from my opinions. I’m not from Kahuku, I’m not even from this state! I bet the red nation is proud to have a representative like yourself trolling comments and telling people how to think and react during the season….

  12. Chloropicrin August 13, 2016 8:59 am

    No one is getting caught up in the flag football style of play, I just think Renaud would have guided the Ref Raiders to 2-3 more scores.

  13. Chloropicrin August 13, 2016 9:02 am

    Does the OIA schools get money from the network that highlight their games? OC sure have a lot of sponsors banners along the fences.. Just wondering

  14. 87 August 13, 2016 9:06 am

    Rim, Renaud was good last year too and he would be a huge upgrade on any of the previous 8 Kahuku title teams. I like how he creates a deep pass threat with that strong arm, I heard he outthrew many mainland QBs this pass summer at camps. I like how we have the luxury to choose between 4 style of offense to attack the defenses weakness.

  15. The Rim August 13, 2016 9:15 am

    @ Chloropicrin- I’m glad I wasn’t the only with that observation. Again, I’m not knocking the Maiava boy at all, just think Renaud might be a better option for their passing game based on his confidence in the pocket (Maiava is too) and ball delivery. I’m positive the coaches have a plan for this year and the future.

  16. Leeboy August 13, 2016 9:37 am

    Ok guys it’s simple. With Kahuku offensive line my gandma could play QB. So it doesnt matter they are just going to overpower everybody. It’s not rocket science when you are bigger, fatester than everone but that Maiava kid is going to be a good one. Just my 2 cents

  17. AOK August 13, 2016 9:38 am

    Let Renaud rip it imo. If its a tie, should go to the underclassman. But, at least for one night there was clearly no tie.

  18. rrforlifebaby August 13, 2016 10:13 am

    I like Renaud. From what I understand though, he had some kind of injury in the offseason, so he looks alot heavier than last year. Being a senior, he does have a little better pocket poise and a much stronger arm. But I think people can clearly see why Harbaugh offered Maiava before he even played his first varsity game. This kid has good pocket presence and is pretty athletic. Renaud has a much nicer spiral and zip on his ball, but Maiava is really fortunate to have the Oline he has to help him develop and the running game and D to have his back and allow him to make mistakes.

  19. Chloropicrin August 13, 2016 10:23 am

    Maiava’s potential is unreal, he moved smoothly in the pocket and is a smooth runner. The reps will surely help his confidence.

  20. Chloropicrin August 13, 2016 10:27 am

    When Renaud was inserted in last year’s title game, I was suprised that he wasn’t playing more. Kahuku’s QB situation reminds me of ’99 when Inoke was a sophomore and he was battling for a spot against Orlando Wong?

  21. oia#1 August 13, 2016 10:38 am

    54 players, 37 suited up, 7 starters did not play, same players going 3 ways lol

  22. 87 August 13, 2016 10:38 am

    You guys gotta remember this was an average Leilehua defense, when we get into the playoffs a balanced run/pass offense with a shifty QB will benefit us more, I like Renaud coming in for spot duty. Give Maiava time to develope and you will see a different offense in the post season.

  23. 88 August 13, 2016 10:48 am

    They need to be a little more better at making sure #52, #26# #1, #20, #17, #23 and a bunch of other kids get rest. They were playing iron man football last night and it showed on Leilehua’s last TD drive. That clown Lee Leslie had the kids playing both ways also and it cost us the game against Punahou.

  24. Alpha August 13, 2016 11:00 am

    @88….. Lee Leslie had one of the best Kahuku team ever in his hands nd screwed it all up….

  25. 87 August 13, 2016 11:05 am

    The 3 dbs in 2011-2012 went two way, Kawe Johnson ring a bell? but last night was excessive I agree. Trust in the process because we are not at practices everyday to understand why things are done

  26. 87 August 13, 2016 11:07 am

    Alpha and 88 are smoking crack or they are the same person either way they/he is high on something.

  27. 80 August 13, 2016 11:14 am

    Renaud is the beta Qb. Maiava is just an athlete. He can’t throw with accuracy. Btw Leilehua’s defense is not even Top 10. The other safety sauvao is the best player on defense.

  28. SimpleSimon August 13, 2016 11:21 am

    Kahuku fumbles a lot. Does anyone there know about “high & tight”? Geewiz

  29. SimpleSimon August 13, 2016 11:24 am

    At the same time this was a “first” game. You people always measure Kahuku in the beginning of each season “incorrectly”, and end up putting a foot in your mouth at the end. Just sit back and relaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaax. 🙂

  30. Bulukex August 13, 2016 12:44 pm

    I just wanted to say hi to everyone and introduce myself. My name is Bulukex, and I’m RRFL.

  31. 87 August 13, 2016 2:08 pm

    Hi bulukex welcome to the party have a seat and enjoy a cup! Did you bring any bags?

  32. Tutu Kane Ale August 13, 2016 2:23 pm

    He, He, just the first game for the Red Raiders and it seems like all the Pokémon commenteers are playing Tata’s QB Action Attack; I can see it’s going to be a funny farm circus of peeps taking things personal all season long and it should be kalakoa wacko interesting;…bum bai pau. RRFLE

  33. Unko Alvin August 13, 2016 3:32 pm

    Yeah, I can hear the comments already yet still much too early to share my RRFL inputs so I’ll be back on or after Labor Day weekend; you all keep cool and win, lose, or tie, like always smile OK.

  34. Bulukex August 13, 2016 3:36 pm

    @87. That’s an automatic on the bags. Love the boys we got this year. With another phase of the game at our disposal we’ll be alright. _!,,/

  35. 88 August 13, 2016 3:56 pm

    Seriously, you two need to get a room

  36. Good Story August 13, 2016 7:46 pm

    Starting Sol-J is the right move. Just the very threat of him running keeps the defense honest and provides better opportunities to exploit opposing team’s weaknesses. I like how he avoided unnecessary contact…get what’s given to you and then get out of bounds. Unless Renaud is unquestionably the better qb…but if it’s still a toss up at this point I go with an investment that will keep giving back for the next 3 years.

  37. Tutu Kane Ale August 13, 2016 8:53 pm

    So it’s all about the coaches game plan assignments and strategy like some still arrived and was identified during the scrimmage with Farrington and this here first regular season game against Leilehua was still almost like another scrimmage whereas the coaching game plan and strategy was again all about trying to find out the ultimate assignment and by using what may be better then best players for each assignment and play strategy; after each player finds home with proficiency and confidence in their coaches game plan assignments like only then the entire team will mesh together to control and move the pig skin and like it’s about game plan, strategy, and assignments forever upgrading for zero misses; so just give Tata’s Inc.just a little more time and then watch the Red Raiders varsity overcome and achieve.

  38. Kainoa Keama August 13, 2016 10:18 pm

    Here we go! Smh! Let the “Kids” play, whoever it is at QB so be it! Just Win! Lol.

  39. Rich99 August 14, 2016 12:00 pm

    Awesome start for the big red but like always it’s about progressing through the weaknesses and coach tata is a great observer and mentor of process. I believe kahuku will be unstoppable in the coming weeks and have the greatness of talents and youth to win many games but comparing last year to this year can be a big mistake for the 2016 team. We need to just watch the growth of these young men and enjoy the ride of the red sea!

  40. Unko Alvin August 15, 2016 12:53 am

    @Rich99 and also them boisterous victory ride home on Kam Hi-way like always with joyous and loud celebrating;

    Work schedule change for me so no need to wait until Labor Day, that’s good so now I can view all the kalakoa comments after every game weekend..

  41. Paper Crane August 15, 2016 1:04 am

    Good to be back again and hopefully I didn’t miss too much; good to see GOOD STORY is still dedicating liberal comments as always and a straight shooter too; anyway good to be back on paper again whereas best wishes to Tata’s Inc.and his Red Raiders.

  42. Good Story August 15, 2016 2:17 pm

    Shakespeare is back! Looking forward to another Great Year Paper Crane.

  43. Good Story August 15, 2016 2:20 pm

    @Paper Crane
    Be ready for a comment from 88 but he missed you too

  44. Paper Crane August 16, 2016 6:28 pm

    @Good Story, mahalo for the motivation and like miss you guys too.

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