There are fans who applaud Kahuku’s one-dimensional offense. There are also fans who believe that predictability will be the Red Raiders’ undoing sooner or later in the postseason. Here’s my response.
There was a time (last year, preseason and early regular season, to be exact) when Kahuku worked on the passing game much more. When Lasi Livai looked like a potential 2,000-yard passer. When it seemed Kahuku might go with a balanced offense. But along the way, the Red Raiders simplified everything and let the defense become a complex, lethally efficient cornerstone. It worked, I’d say.
With a mobile, powerful offensive line (John Wa‘a is still the finest in the state, from what I’ve seen) and one of the best running backs in state history (Aofaga Wily), it’s been a simple mindset that keeps Kahuku’s iron-first defense rested and sharp. But a passing game? Development?This year, I really don’t think they’ve gotten the in-game reps to build the confidence and learning curve necessary to operate a consistent passing game. More or less, they’ve put all their chips into the running game and defense again. I truly believe it goes back to the mid-season loss to Farrington last year. They were down 14-13, driving in the final 2 minutes. On fourth-and-1, they threw an out pattern instead of smashmouthing for that one yard. The ball fell incomplete and I don’t think they’ve thrown the ball more than 12 times in a game since. (I can check that later, but I’m 95% sure on that.)
The other factor is that Kawe Johnson is the most experienced pass catcher they have. By far. When he entered the game at WR in the second half, the whole passing game became dynamic (by Kahuku standards, I know). It’s not a lack of WR talent. All the guys playing in the secondary are good enough to play WR, just like last year. But the blueprint is to stick those talented, tall, physical athletes on defense in DC Kimo Haiola’s intricate system and let them suffocate opposing offenses with great coverage. Jayven “Bubba” Mohetau — he was all over Leilehua receivers tonight, beautiful coverage.
So there. I think Kahuku has invested its skill-position talent (potential slotbacks, wide receivers and even tight ends — Lamone Williams never plays on offense anymore) into defense. But who knows? If Colt Brennan stays there and coaches again in the spring and summer and next fall … maybe they’ll develop the next great Hawaii high school quarterback. I doubt he’ll be there a whole lot longer since he still has pro aspirations.
But they made their choice. Something had to be sacrificed and that was the receiving corps. It worked the past two years. It’s working now.
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser