Kahuku displays power, finesse in Carvalho’s debut

Kahuku's Robbie Sauvao, who played quarterback for the Red Raiders in 2018, left to play for a school on the mainland in 2019 but is back to play basketball for the Red Raiders in 2020. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Game one is in the books for first-year head coach Sterling Carvalho.

The former offensive coordinator has already left an imprint, merging the best of both worlds as No. 2 Kahuku overpowered Konawaena 61-9 on Saturday night at soggy Carleton Weimer Field.

The Red Raiders were in sledgehammer mode early with running backs Wes Alo-Maiava and Toalei Lefau. Alo-Maiava rushed for 130 yards and touchdowns of 55, 5 and 5 yards in the first half, while Lefau rushed for a modest 15 yards, but hauled in a 3-yard TD pass from first-year starter Robbie Sauvao.

The final count: 29 rushes for 240 yards, and 27 pass attempts by Sauvao and backup Alex Fonoimoana-Vaomu. Whatever the visiting Wildcats did defensively, Kahuku had an answer for. And Big Red did it with action by everyone on the roster against the capable, but smaller Division II Wildcats.

“We wanted to make sure everybody got their reps, the first to the last, be able to evaluate every single person, every person. We’ve got a tough season. We had the 1s with the 2s, see what combinations we could play,” Carvalho said. “Konawaena’s a great team. You can see why they’re one of the top dogs in D-II. We wanted to make sure we stopped any momentum. We played Kahuku football.”

Carvalho praised his team, but also had a thumbs-up review of Konawaena’s freshman quarterback, Sheynen Nahale. He threw for 244 yards, one TD and just one pick in 47 pass attempts.

“Their quarterback hung in there against one of the top defenses in the state. He’s only going to get better,” said Carvalho, whose team hosted the Wildcats for lunch earlier in the day. “We hope their whole program continues to get better. We’ll be rooting for them.”

Konawaena quarterback Sheynen Nahale threw for 244 yards and a touchdown in 47 attempts against Kahuku. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Kahuku’s quick and tall defensive ends didn’t get much opportunity to close in on Nahale.

“Konawaena got the ball out fast. They came out with a great plan, but the rest of our defense contributed,” Carvalho said.

Zealand Matagi added a 63-yard TD run to highlight a deep, talented backfield for Kahuku. The offensive line was almost impeccable, allowing just one sack. It’s a promising start for the backfield and big Red Raiders in the trenches.

“It’s a combination of both. We have a great O-line and great backs. We want to be great as a team. It’s what (Konawaena) offered us. We want to be able to use everyone, from wideouts to tight ends. Hats off to Sola Soliai and Alema Atuaia, our coordinators, for utilizing all the strengths of our players,” Carvalho said. “We want to be able to play tempo, be able to control the game. We want to dictate the pace of the game.”

Sauvao, who is also a standout basketball player, showed excellent field vision and preparation.

“Robbie, we have some stuff we wanted to make sure we got in, but yeah, there will be some surprises next week, too. He’s a great athlete, deceptively fast and he’s got a great arm,” Carvalho said.

Sauvao was in a battle for the starting job with Thorton Alapa, who did not play.

“There are some things we’ve got to work out with him,” Carvalho noted.

Sauvao threw three TDs in the first half and finished 14-for-25 for 154 yards with no picks.

“We just wanted to run the ball and see what they gave us. Spread it out. All our receivers are good, so I can throw it to anyone,” Sauvao said. “It depends on what the defense gives us. Our coaches will make the adjustment and our O-line is good.”

Kahuku didn’t seem to miss a beat with highly-recruited offensive lineman Enokk Vimahi sidelined.

“Enokk was injured, but Chaz Evangelista did a good job at left tackle,” Sauvao added.

Alo-Maiava first opened eyes a year ago in a scrimmage at Kamehameha. His rushing and pass-catching skills were phenomenal, but he was derailed by injury before returning late in the season.

“Last year it was all new for me catching the ball. All new experience,” he said after being greeted after the game by cousin Jocelyn Alo, the Oklahoma softball slugger. “The offense opens the field and gives us more room to run.”

Kahuku’s Mason Paulo made a one-handed catch against Konawaena’s Kaha‘i Navas-loa. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.


  1. John Soller August 5, 2018 12:11 pm

    1 is an important number.
    1 becomes before every number.
    1 has only enough room for the best team to fit in it’s glory.
    1 represents first what takes place before each 2ñd.

    We can not look past any player.
    We can’t look past any coach.
    We can’t look past any team.
    We can’t look past any game.

    As 1 represets the desired or end result.

    1 practice to another
    1 game to another
    1 win to another…….


  2. ??? August 5, 2018 3:18 pm

    Hey John, that’s a lot of #1’s used in your post but the only #1 that matters is STL #1 finish last year.
    29 rush & 27 pass is great balance by Kahuku.
    Good luck Big Red!!

  3. Awrite!! August 5, 2018 6:44 pm

    One game at a time.

    We dont have all the manpower to smash mouth like how we did in 2015 so I like what Sterling and Alema are doing in trying to balance the offense and throw more. Save our kids brains and bodies.

  4. MsLala August 6, 2018 6:28 am

    Good job Konawaena, you did your community proud, even though the score was lopsided, you played with heart. This experience will only make you grow as a team. I give your coach props for accepting a challenge that other schools did not want. Good job, Konawaena. Red Raider Nation, thank you for graciously caring for our Wildcat players, to you good luck this season. To both teams, continue to play hard, but don’t forget it’s a game and have fun.

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