Hilo misses chance; Kahuku gets Punahou

Hilo's gameplan got Sione Atuekaho a few open receivers, but the QB struggled to hit them. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser
Hilo’s gameplan got Sione Atuekaho a few open receivers, but the QB struggled to hit them. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser

Hilo coach David Baldwin was not smiling while walking down the handshake line after his Vikings allowed 20 points in the second half of a 20-10 loss to No. 3 Kahuku in the state Division I quarterfinals at Aloha Stadium on Friday night.

Only Baldwin knows what he was thinking, but from the outside it looked like he was angry that such a whale of an opportunity passed the Vikings by.

Had No. 9 Hilo won, it would have probably been the biggest upset in state tournament history, and it would have ranked right up there with the biggest upsets in Hawaii high school history.

“I need to coach better. The loss is on me,” Baldwin said. “When we win, it’s the players. When we lose, it’s the coaches and assistants. I’m so proud of our players and the way they played tonight.”

Baldwin pointed to Kahuku’s first points of the night, Gabriel Pinheiro-Alves‘ first of two field goals, as the turning point.

“We gave up 45 yards in penalties and they kick a field goal and the momentum shifted,” Baldwin said. “We never regained it. Turning over the ball twice in the fourth quarter is something you can’t do if you expect to beat a team like Kahuku.”

It sounds like Baldwin, whose Vikings have now made the state tournament two years in a row, has big plans for the BIIF champions in the future.

“We … got … one … step … closer,” Baldwin said, measuring his words. “We are hoping our preseason matchups improve. Let’s play the best the state has to offer, use it as a learning tool and a preparation for the postseason.

“You know what, after tonight, I think we’ll get a (preseason) game.”

Hilo (10-1) has certainly served notice that they can compete.

Lee Leslie’s Kahuku squad (9-2) continues on to the state semifinals next Friday against Punahou. The Red Raiders been pushed to the limits and have kept on winning with a rock-solid defense and sheer will.

Friday night was sheer will.

The Red Raiders’ Salanoa-Alo Wily looked like Dick Butkus running the ball after a fumble recovery in NFL Films. Yes, a linebacker, a position Wily doesn’t play, but he is a fearsome defensive end and, as a bull of a running back, not the first choice of players the average defender wants to tackle.

Wily’s 25-yard touchdown run tying the score 10-10 in the fourth quarter gave the whole North Shore community hope.

That man, yes, he’s a man already I think, has gone through war after war after war this season and is still standing.

As a matter of fact, Baldwin stopped his monotonous walk through the handshake line to hug Wily and offer words of encouragement.

Right around that time, a few Hilo players were heard to say, “Beat Punahou.”

The 270-pound Wily got a big help from his line, including Siotame Uluave, who the Star-Advertiser’s Billy Hull called the game’s MVP for his impact at center in the second half after moving over from tackle.

And the big boy in front of Wily had a huge impact when the game was on the line. That would be fullback Pena Fitisemanu, who blew open some holes in crunch time.

“We just looked at the scoreboard and we realized, this is our senior year and it’s time to dig deep,” Fitisemanu said. “Salanoa was running hard and I was pushing as hard as I can.”

Fitisemanu will be going up against his old school, Punahou, where he played three years before transferring to Kahuku.

“It’s going to be good, going up against my old school,” he said. “We have a lot more to prove. We’re working to get back to (playing against) Mililani.”

One thing Kahuku has going for it is the likely return of quarterback Tuli Wily-Matagi, who suffered a concussion in the OIA championship game against Mililani.

He is a senior leader and he can hurt you through the air or via the run.

Wily-Matagi was on the bench during the comeback, smiling. And without a doubt, he was thinking about one more game, at least.


  1. Same Ol Same Ol November 8, 2014 8:26 am

    Kahuku finally went back to their classic Power-I and look what happened? They dominated. They need to throw that balanced attach away and just attach from the ground and do what Kahuku kids were born to do… RUN DA BALL!!!

  2. Malhabit November 8, 2014 8:38 am

    It’s what they shoulda done against kaiser, leilehua and any other smaller team, the games would’ve been different. Wear them down, then buss em up. That’s our ground and pound game. Use the tools you have and maximize them to the fullest. Go BIG RED

  3. KJ November 8, 2014 10:31 am

    Soooo, who’s gonna make the meme of the Hilo High trainers legs???

  4. Recruiter808 November 8, 2014 2:34 pm

    As long as Kahuku has that clown Leslie calling the plays nothing will change. The guy is clueless and doesn’t know how to use his personal and when to use them.

  5. RedAlert293 November 8, 2014 3:27 pm

    Lack of depth on the Oline and Dline is forcing Kahuku to make too many players play double duty, cant make Sala and Tiger play RB and Defense the entire game, smart to only utilize them heavily at RB for one half.

    Kahuku was going down hill last year, didnt even qualify for the state tournament. With the exact same players we are now contenders again in the state tournament. Great job boys and coaches. If Tuli plays next week against Punahou I like our chances with the balanced passing and running attack with Kesi and Pua. RR4L

  6. Same Ol Same Ol November 8, 2014 7:47 pm

    RedAlert293: Kahuku was going downhill last year? They had a winning season. They had the same players this year as last, but they are more seasoned this year and more experienced. Last year they were a whole new team though with many of the players starting for the first time. The balanced attack only worked earlier in the season against the weak teams. Against Hilo, they tried this balanced attack and it didn’t work. They go back to the POWER-I formation (Kahuku’s bread and butter since forever), and dominated the game all in the last quarter. Kahuku’s players are good but I don’t know about their coaching. Noticed soooooooooo many bad play calls that would make any couch-coach look like a genius.

  7. NorthShoreStar November 8, 2014 8:19 pm

    Baldwin has every reason to be proud of his boys. They showed that Big Island or Hilo at least are now real contenders when coming to the State Finals. Good luck to them next season. And good luck to Kahuku next week!

  8. RedAlert293 November 9, 2014 12:43 am

    against Hilo we didnt have Tuli, Kesi and Pua, without them we dont have a passing game. Hope they come back this week and yes Hilo represented the Big Island well hats off to them.

  9. maukamakai November 9, 2014 1:45 pm

    Big Red doing big things this year, next year is our year, we finally have player confidence restored into the program when with the previous staff many players were finding any and all reasons to exit the program. Change was necessary to bring back 6 kids that left for better programs in Utah and the ILH.

    I wish Reggie was still coaching but it was his Defensive coordinator that pretty much flipped off the Laie Boyz back in 2005 after Kahuku won the state title. The community heard that and the trend started where they were sending their boys to play else where. The new principal wanted to get rid of the problem and she did. Now that its a new staff the LBI can now bring their kids back home to play for Kahuku. Cheee Hooooo!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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.