Six games on Oahu are scheduled for Friday night. The OIA enters the first week of divisional play after the seven cross-division matchups last week, plus there’s a very intriguing Division II game at Leilehua featuring two teams that might see each other again in the state tournament.
The Red Raiders of 2015, battling injuries, turned to a bulldozing, red wall of pound-until-they-cry-for-mercy blockers on nearly every play. In 2016, they have evolved. That’s what a relatively healthy roster can do, and they’re doing well enough to get rest time for starters and playing time for reserves.
Last week’s battle with Leilehua was tight enough in the first half — before the visiting Red Raiders prevailed 49-15 — to convince a few Top 10 voters to jump ship and hand their No. 1 votes to Saint Louis, which has yet to play an official game yet.
It hardly matters to the defending state champions, who have a child prodigy at quarterback: freshman Sol-Jay Maiava, who has an offer from Michigan. They are stocked at just about every position, led in the backfield by returnee Harmon Brown, who rushed for 123 yards and two TDs against Leilehua.
The look that coach Vavae Tata wanted last season, before injuries depleted the roster, is taking form this fall. Kahuku threw the ball 23 times and ran it 36 times against Leilehua. That’s a pass attempt on 39 percent of their downs, a vast difference from last year’s 90-percent plus rushing approach.
Kesi Ah-Hoy, who led the offense last year despite nagging injuries, is entrenched now at safety, seeing some snaps at wide receiver.
Aiea hung on for a 27-14 win at Nanakuli last week with backup Zelius Maae-Liupaono and starter Kobe Kato splitting time at quarterback. Both relied heavily on a smurf crew of skilled pass catchers, including Sam Okamoto (eight catches, 105 yards, TD). The last time Kahuku lost a game at home, though, it took a tough-nosed, big and physical QB, Mason Koa, to lead the way. Kapolei was the last team to beat Kahuku at Carlton Weimer Field — Oct. 26, 2007.
Na Alii will face a defense that features defensive end Aliki Vimahi (6-4, 250, 10 offers), cornerback Kekaula Kaniho (6-1, 170, seven offers), Ah-Hoy (6-0, 195, four offers), DTs Sekope Lutu Latu (6-3, 250, BYU commit) and Enokk Vimahi (6-4, 250, two offers), DE Samson Reed (6-2, 240, three offers) and LB Miki Ah You (6-0, 165, one offer).
History: Aiea has never beaten Kahuku, a span of nine games, but they haven’t played since 2005, when they scored 16 points for their most in a single game in the series. Wendell Say has lost six of those games and has taken a team to the North Shore only once before, a 53-7 loss in 1998.
Kahuku hasn’t lost to an OIA team at home since falling to Kapolei in 2007, a span of 35 games.
Aiea has started 2-0 in three of the last four years, but not last year. They only accomplished it two years ago when Kaiser forfeited a game.
Aiea hasn’t had a 100-yard rusher against Kahuku since 1984, when Robert Pantil put up 127. Na Alii has never had a 100-yard receiver against the Red Raiders.
Live updates of the 6 p.m. kickoff will follow below:
8:21 p.m.: Final score: Kahuku 50, Aiea 7. Cameron is going to be OK, says Tata.
8:18 p.m.: Ambulance is off to Pali Momi. Can hear the siren, 4:18 left in game.
Kahuku athletic director said she thinks the injury occurred when his head snap backed after the hit and hit the ground. That is what it looked like from this vantage point, too.
8:12 p.m.: Neck brace is on; he is on the ambulance stretcher, not the school stretcher. Please everybody say a prayer for this kid. Cameron Renaud was looking sharp. lifted him up and in the ambulance.
8:06 p.m.: He has not moved his legs, this does not look good. Ambulance is coming, they are about to cut his jersey off.
8:04 p.m.: Renaud sacked hard and is down. Is moving hands. Not moving very much.
Aiea’s MJ Soyon made initial stop and Ryan Panuelo came in second with a huge hit that appeared to be to the chest. 10-yard loss. Trainers are out there; stretcher board.
8:01 p.m.: Aiea punter Kim Choy-Keb Ah Lo is pressured and then sacked for a loss by Miki Ah You. Kahuku ball on downs.
7:59 p.m.: Three and out for Aiea. Kahuku’s Sedric Iafeta batted down a Kato third-down pass.
7:55 p.m.: Renaud two passes to Pao for 10 yards. He is looking sharp as the backup quarterback. … But on a 4th down play, he overthrows his receiver. Aiea takes over.
7:45 p.m.: Lombard scores from 4 yards out on third play after turnover. His third touchdown of night. On first play, Maiava connected with Vakapuna for 16 yards. Nihipali-Botelho kick is good and it’s Kahuku 50, Aiea 7 with 5:13 to go in third quarter.
7:41 p.m.: Steven Lombard 2-yard TD run, the fullback in the I formation with Brown. Niihipali-Botelho kick is good, 43-7. Running clock.
7:37 p.m.: Cameron Renaud 33 yard pass to Royce Pao to the Aiea 1.
7:35 p.m.: Kahuku gets great field position again. At the Aiea 34.
7:34 p.m.: Kato in at quarterback for Na Alii. There are no no-huddle offenses out this way despite the score. It’s 3 and out for Na Alii.
7:18 p.m.: Kobe Kato, who was the Aiea starting quarterback as a sophomore two years ago and a junior last year, was involved in summer baseball and did not get enough work in to be named the starter. He did play the second half of Aiea’s opening 27-14 win over Nanakuli. WIll be out there in the second half?
7:16 p.m.: End first half. Kahuku 36, Aiea 7. Linebacker Toalei Lefau stands up Aiea running back Austin Savea and then, when Savea tries to keep going, he goes backward and Tema Lindsay finishes him off for a 10-yard loss.
7:12 p.m.: Just as fast as you can say, this game has no turnovers, Stokes Nihipali-Botelho picks off a Maae-Liupaono first-down pass and returns it 25 yards for a touchdown. Nihipali-Botelho’s kick hits the upright and bounces down. No good. Kahuku 36, Aiea 7. 1:38 to go in first half.
7:07 p.m.: Maiava 14-yard pass to Royce Pao and Vakapuna 7-yard run moves the ball to the Aiea 10. 2 minutes left in half.
7:08 p.m.: Maiava hits Vakapuna on a 10-yard TD slant. 1:52 left in half. Nihipali-Botelho kick is good. Kahuku 30, Aiea 7.
7:04 p.m.: Maiava pass to Kai’ea Dowling covers 15 yards. Vakapuna stopped for a 3-yard gain. Aiea defensive front closed that gap fast!! Say brought the kids to play.
7:02 p.m.: A short completion and three incompletions hands the ball to Kahuku at Aiea 49. 4:30 to go in first half. Kahuku survives a scare when center Vili Fisiiahi recovers a bad handoff fumble.
7:00 p.m.: Maae-Liupaono pass batted down by linebacker Toalei Lefau
6:57 p.m.: Kaniho called for pass interference … kind of a thing with him this year. 15-yard penalty brings ball to Aiea 44. Aiea finding some passing room underneath the cornerbacks. Eventually Kahuku is going to get aggressive.
6:54 p.m.: No need Elephant. Got Kekaula Kaniho. Lined up on his team’s right on the kickoff return. He got a pooch ball, as if to say, “Gimme this ball.” Charged toward the middle of the field, to his left. Sprinted through some would-be tacklers and found open space for a 65-yard touchdown return. Nihipali-Botelho kick is good. Kahuku 23, Aiea 7.
6:50 p.m.: Time for the jumbo package? Elephant package?
That is two games in a row the Red Raiders have given up more than their less-than-4-point average from last year.
6:47 p.m.: Two Maae-Liupaono passes, one to Jayden Chaviera and one to Sam Okamoto gets the ball to the Kahuku 49. Running back Austin Savea finds room on the right side for a 12-yard gain to the Kahuku 30.
6:51 p.m.: Aliki Vimahi bats down a Maae-Liupaono pass. Aiea faces third and 15 from the 35 after a false start penalty. Next play: TOUCHDOWN AIEA! Gage Asing 35-yard flea flicker pass to Ty Matsunami for TD. Kobe Kato kick is good. 7:20 left in first half. Kahuku 16, Aiea 7.
6:40 p.m.: An 8-yard pass fro Maae-Liupaono to Austin Savea and a 15-yard helmet to helmet penalty on Kahuku puts ball at 36. Maae-Liupaono 11-yard pass to Kame Kim Choy-Keb Ah Lo gets the ball to Na Alii 42 after a 5-yard penalty. Aiea moving and Say calls timeout with 9:55 left in second quarter.
6:36 p.m.: Aiea to start at its 10. Not a good sign.
6:35 p.m.: Elvis Vakapuna 17-yard TD run off left tackle; 11:52 left in second quarter. Nihipali-Botelho kick is good. Kahuku 16, Aiea 0.
6:32 p.m.: And that is how the first quarter ends. Another shutout segment for Kahuku. Lombard 8 carries for 37 yards so far, and the lights aren’t even on yet. Daytime football at Kahuku and Waianae tonight, can’t beat it.
6:31 p.m.: Facemask penalty against Aiea moves ball to the 22
6:28 p.m.: Kahuku third straight drive starting in Aiea territory. Not a good thing for Na Alii.
Lombard 7-yard gain. Two minutes left in first quarter.
6:24 p.m.: Lombard goes up the middle for 5-yard TD. Nihipali-Botelho PAT kick goes wide right. Kahuku 9, Aiea 0. Late first quarter. Kahuku running a traditional offense with Maiava at the controls. No jumbo or elephant package.
Botelho kickoff is a touchback.
6:22 p.m.: Maiava hits Elvis Vakapuna for a 16-yard gain. Lombard runs bring ball to 9.
6:18 p.m.: Aiea quarterback Zelius Maae-Liupaono is in. Not Kobe Kato. Short Aiea punt.
6:16 p.m.: Field goal attempt coming up. Stokes Nihipali-Botelho kicks 29-yard field goal. 3-0. Still first quarter.
6:13 p.m.: So far, Aiea has not given up those huge plays Kahuku is known for.
Maiava is 1-for-3 so far. Aiea interior defense is doing as well as can be expected. Kahuku on the 13. Fourth down and 9 from the 13.
6:10 p.m.: Scoreboard clock not working. Time being kept on field.
6:07 p.m.: Miki Ah You takes the pooch kick and returns it 21 yards for Kahuku to the Aiea 41. Steven Lombard two runs for 15 yards. Ball at Aiea 26.
Sol-Jay Maiava pass to Harmon Brown dropped.
5:45 p.m.: About a half hour before kickoff, a heavy shower came to bless the players. Kahuku will receive.