An OIA three-peat is now within sight for Kahuku.
The No. 2 Red Raiders secured their place in the OIA championship game after a convincing 42-7 win over No. 7 Campbell on Friday night at Aloha Stadium.
Holding a relatively slim 21-7 lead at halftime, Kahuku coach Makoa Freitas wanted his team to loosen up and stick to the basics in the second half.
“I just told the kids to refocus and come out and focus on having fun, and doing their assignments,” Freitas said.
Freitas’ team took those words to heart and broke the game wide open after intermission with a versatile running game and suffocating defense — two trademark characteristics of the team’s run to consecutive OIA titles.
Senior Enoch Nawahine led all rushers with 111 yards on 18 carries with a pair of 44-yard touchdowns. Five other rushers gained yardage for the Red Raiders, including Sione Mahe’s 55-yard rushing score to put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter.
“Playing them the first time, we knew what they were capable of, we knew their tendencies,” Nawahine said. “Coming out this game and playing them again, we just had to battle. Just do what we do best, just buckling down and focusing in.”
On the other side of the ball, the Red Raiders shut out Campbell in the second half despite two opportunities for the Sabers inside of the red zone early in the third quarter.
Campbell quarterbacks were intercepted four times. Sophomore defensive back Alex Fonoimoana-Vaomu had two interceptions for Kahuku, including a 90-yard pick-six that was called back.
“We just wanted to create turnovers and get the ball back for the offense to score more points and that’s what we did,” Fonoimoana-Vaomu said.
The Red Raiders now have two weeks to prepare for their third OIA championship in as many seasons. It’ll be Freitas’ first go at it as the head coach after previously serving on Vavae Tata’s staff as an assistant.
“Our players and our coaches put us in a position to win another title,” Freitas said. “It’s not gonna be easy. We’ll see what we can do.”
For Nawahine, it’ll be his first and only opportunity to win an OIA title with Kahuku, since the senior spent the first three years of his prep career at Punahou.
He didn’t hesitate to express how a win on Nov. 4 would feel.
“It means a lot for this whole community, and for me and my family,” he said. “Winning is expected here. We expect nothing less than success.”