For a few minutes just before kickoff, confusion reigned in the Kahuku press box.
It seemed that Kahuku’s touted 6-foot-2 junior defensive end/linebacker Tausili Fiatoa was not playing against Moanalua. Not only that, word filtered up that he was no longer enrolled in school. It took the Spectrum XCast crew off guard, as they had planned to do a spotlight on Fiatoa.
Fiatoa had some key defensive plays in the Red Raiders’ blowout of Waianae the week before.
— 808 FB Recruits (@808FBRecruits) August 19, 2017
It’s worth noting that Fiatoa, previously with Orem (Utah) High, appears on Orem’s 2017 varsity football roster on Maxpreps.
But there was still a No. 43 down on the field with the Red Raiders on Friday night. Forty-three, Fiatoa’s number. Scribes and broadcasters in the press box scribbled down the name “Sione Mahe” with 43 just in case this unknown newcomer cracked the box score.
Well, crack the box score he did.
Mahe, the nephew of former NFL player Reno Mahe, had the golden touch in his debut for the otherwise slow-starting Red Raiders in an eventual 40-6 rout of Na Menehune. The running back had both both of Kahuku’s touchdowns before halftime and finished with three scores on the ground among his 99 yards on 11 carries.
Mahe transferred in from Herriman (Utah) High in the offseason, where he was a JV/reserve varsity defensive player. He said he had to rally has grades from last year in order to play, thus his delayed start this season.
“I had to try to do everything I could to pick up my grades so I could finally start,” Mahe said. “I wanted to prove to myself I could be on this team. This first game today is my first one. … My first actual high school game under the lights on Friday night, with it being an actual game I played in.”
He showed no jitters and found holes with ease for scoring runs of 6, 10 and 15 yards. He took off for 27 yards on his first touch.
Unlike traditional Kahuku power backs, Mahe is on the smaller side; he’s probably around 5-9 or 5-10 and 170 pounds.
“A lot of (my teammates) came up to me and said, ‘Man, we were not expecting that. We weren’t expecting that,’ ” Mahe said, laughing. “It’s like, man, don’t judge a book by its cover, you know? That’s what you always hear at school. I may be small, but I’m running hard.”
He said if he started at Herriman this year, he probably would have been a safety. He was offered the chance to play offense upon his arrival at Kahuku.
“I have a lot to improve,” Mahe said. “Really special shout-out to our (running backs) coach, Coach Nate (Ilaoa), he’s been helping me a lot and giving me a chance.”
Against Na Menehune, Mahe filled a void, as top rusher Enoch Nawahine missed the game with a concussion.
“It was good timing,” Kahuku coach Makoa Freitas acknowledged.
“We seen practice. He’s a great athlete and I’m glad he had a chance to show everybody what he can do.”
As for the former occupant of No. 43, Freitas didn’t have much to say. He was also mum on a starting quarterback switch from Sol-Jay Maiava to Thorton Alapa, other than saying his team needs to get off to better starts. Maiava entered the game in the second quarter and helped Kahuku rattle off 28 unanswered points after Moanalua drew to within 12-6 in the third quarter.
Kahuku (3-0, 3-0 OIA Blue) plays at Aiea next week then hosts Bingham (Utah).