Kahuku coach Vavae Tata‘s message to his team this week might seem a little far-fetched at first.
“Score one (touchdown) every drive,” running back Elvis Vakapuna said. “Coach stressed it a lot. We needed to score one (touchdown) every drive. That was our goal for tonight.”
The thing is, it’s not far-fetched. Not when you’re the No. 1 team in the state. Not when you’re the defending state champion. Not when you’re ranked No. 22 in the country by USA Today. And certainly not when you’ve pulverized the last 24 teams you’ve played from Hawaii.
Kahuku will attempt to win a ninth state championship next Saturday night at Aloha Stadium against Saint Louis following a 54-7 demolishing of Kapolei on Friday night.
Vakapuna scored three first-half touchdowns, Harmon Brown rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns and the Red Raiders (11-1) outscored the Hurricanes 47-0 over the final three quarters.
Kahuku had to punt the ball away on its first drive, but then scored on its next seven possessions with six touchdowns and a field goal. Kahuku’s defense added a safety and Kekaula Kaniho returned his fifth interception for a touchdown to complete another masterful performance.
“They’re on a different level in high school,” Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said. “This tells you how good they are.”
Kahuku’s defense, which has only given up six touchdowns in 11 games against Hawaii opponents, garners so much of the attention. The offense deserves its share as well, rolling up at least 38 points against in-state competition for the eighth straight game.
Freshman quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava took advantage of a blown coverage to throw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Vakapuna in the second quarter and had a 47-yard run to set up another Kahuku TD.
Backup quarterback Cameron Renaud completed both of his passes, including a 9-yard TD to tight end Pua Falemalu.
In 11 games against in-state teams, Kahuku has won by a combined score of 551-43. The only thing in the way of a ninth state championship now is Saint Louis, which handled Waianae 42-7 in the other semifinal as easy as Kahuku did in either of its two meetings against the Seariders this season.
“They’re physical and they’re in shape,” Vakapuna said. “It’s going to be a good battle.”
If it is, it will be a first this year, because nobody from Hawaii has been able to come close to hanging with this group of Red Raiders.