No. 1 Kahuku keeps on grinding

Kahuku defensive end Samson Reed (92) and linebacker Tema Lindsey brought down Waianae running back Rico Rosario. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Kahuku defensive end Samson Reed (92) and linebacker Tema Lindsey brought down Waianae running back Rico Rosario. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Vavae Tata emerged from the Kahuku locker room and eased into one of Aloha Stadium’s orange seats to take in a bit of the second game of Saturday’s OIA semifinal doubleheader.

The Kahuku coach was about 15 minutes removed from the Red Raiders’ resounding 38-0 victory over Waianae and touched on his postgame message to his team while Farrington and Kapolei went through their pregame routines on the field below.

“We’re getting there, but we still haven’t played a complete game game yet. I told the student-athletes we still have to play a complete game,” Tata said. “People on the outside look at it as 38-0, there’s techniques involved, there’s penalties, a lot of things.”

Kahuku’s inward focus has kept the Red Raiders on track throughout Tata’s tenure leading the program.

The Red Raiders improved to 22-1 under Tata’s leadership — the lone blemish coming against Bishop Gorman, the nation’s top ranked team — on Sept. 17. Outside of the 35-7 loss in Las Vegas, Kahuku has given up precious little in nine OIA games.

Saturday’s shutout was Kahuku’s sixth of the season and they’ve allowed one touchdown in the last 30 quarters in league play, none in the last 11.

The cornerback duo of Kekaula Kaniho and Stokes Nihipali-Botelho again helped ignite the Red Raiders early with two interceptions in the first quarter. Nihipali-Botelho’s pick set up the Red Raiders’ first scoring drive and Kaniho’s 22-yard return for a touchdown highlighted a 21-point outburst in a span of 3:40.

Kaniho’s score was his third pick-six in the last four games and Kahuku’s 10th defensive touchdown of the season.

“They’re students of the game,” Tata said. “They’re just looking forward to doing their 1/11th, to do their part. These kids, football really means a lot to them.”

Rico Rosario’s 5-yard play to begin Waianae’s ensuing possession was the Seariders’ first gain for positive yardage and Kahuku allowed just 53 yards in total offense. Waianae put together a 15-play, 51-yard drive to open the third quarter, but hit the red wall at the Kahuku 13 when Kesi Ah-Hoy stuffed quarterback Jorell Pontes-Borje on fourth down.

“They’re a tough team. It’s like us looking in the mirror,” Tata said of the ground-based Seariders.

The Red Raiders had pushed their OIA opponents backward for minus-39 rushing yards in their previous eight games and held Waianae to 23 on Saturday, matching the Seariders’ total in their first meeting on Aug. 26. That’s the second-highest total surrendered by Kahuku this season, trailing Leilehua’s 24 ground yards in the Red Raiders’ season opener. The Kahuku defense also dropped its total yardage average to 70.8 in nine league games.

Freshman quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava completed three of seven passes for 64 yards, all coming on throws to tight ends Pua Falemalu and Sekope Latu off of play-action. Maiava picked up 57 rushing yards on 10 carries, including a 16-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. In the third quarter, he kept the ball around the left side on an option play for a 12-yard gain before pitching it out to Elvis Vakapuna, who added 18 more yards.

“How about that Sol-Jay Maiava, wow,” Tata said. “He’s just a dual-threat quarterback. That’s hard to defend because now he can hurt you with your legs.”

Tata and the Red Raiders headed out early in the second semifinal and were probably back on the North Shore by the time Farrington completed a wild 33-27 win over Kapolei to join Kahuku in the OIA D-I final on Friday at Aloha Stadium.

Thus begins the cycle of preparation once again.

“It feels great,” Kaniho said of returning to the OIA final. “We have to get back to work on Monday.”


  1. ??? October 23, 2016 6:17 am

    What’s the excuse this time Waianae?
    Just asking?

  2. LohuiLani October 23, 2016 7:01 am

    Kahuku is peaking at the right time they are on an elite level with St. Louis and Punahou. The Open division was created for those 3 teams because no other OIA team can compete on that level so they create a make believe “Open” division so that the rest of the state can continue to compete it the D1 division.

    Thanks to the recruiting tactic that Cal Lee made popular now StLouis and Punahou are the only ones that can win a state title, Kahuku is also in that convo because they created the BigBoys league and their athletes are now training from young ages. When I was at Kahuku in the 80s we didnt train for football till we entered the 9th grade. Now days the elementary kids are training and that is why Kahuku is doing well….All you other OIA schools like Waianae and Farrington that is what you need to start doing…training your keiki and then hope Cal or Kane dont come and recruit them.

  3. oia#1 October 23, 2016 7:09 am

    When did waianae make an excuse?

  4. oia#1 October 23, 2016 7:12 am

    Kahuku has tons of transfers! So you talk about other teams recruiting! Just play the game.

  5. RidgeRunnerE-5 October 23, 2016 7:46 am

    @??? Waianae ain’t never made excuses, we win some, we lose some, onto the next game. I did see a hell of a lot of excuses after the Gorman game though.

  6. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate October 23, 2016 8:09 am

    waianae is fine, kahuku is just that good at grabbing um by the puppy gate

  7. Lisa October 23, 2016 9:22 am

    Oia#1??? We don’t recruit, we reload. Transfers? These boys transfer on their own (and) the majority of them are returning home to be a RR4L where it all began for them (this is their stomping grounds and where they grew up and where their family roots are.

    RidgeRunnerE-5??? There were no excuses after the Gorman game. Our boys accepted defeat with pride and as a lesson to them on what their strengths and weaknesses were. Lots of times the players blame themselves…if only I did this or didn’t do that… that’s not an excuse but an acknowledgement on their behalf.

    But hey, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion and such is yours.

    Peace Out!!!

  8. What u smok'n October 23, 2016 9:26 am

    @oia Now you just being salty, you comment saying how Waianae has no excuses then you come right back on with an excuse. Just swallow the pill.

  9. ??? October 23, 2016 9:44 am

    Waianae coach said they were physically & mentally improved and ready for the big red machine and still got man handled 38-0. Just face facts, waianae will run over 90% of their opponents in the oia but will not beat the top dogs without a dominant D & a passing game to compliment the run!!!

  10. Chloropicrin October 23, 2016 10:29 am

    Waianae’s Bravo and Lose money team showed up last night, not the coaches Alpha and Money team.

    Waianae needs an upgrade at offense coordinator and hire a good recruiting coordinator. There’s a lot of Waianae roots in Washington, Cali, Nevada and Utah. They need to open up that pipelines. 🙂

  11. Homegrown October 23, 2016 10:59 am

    Lol @ all the salty Waianae fans in here. After they got spanked from Kahuku earlier in the season they became the biggest Bishop Gorman cheerleaders.

    I seen their fans throwing up all kind of gestures at the Mililani crowd, singing “na na na na hey hey hey goodbye” to the Trojan supporters only to show up at Aloha Stadium unprepared and undisciplined.

    They got a lot of talent out there and potential to be great but sometimes it’s the mental game that needs work.

    As good as Tata is schematically, his push to be mentally stronger than years prior is what seems to be pushing these Kahuku teams to another level above their OIA counterparts

  12. 95erz October 23, 2016 11:37 am

    I’m wondering who Kahuku recruited? Who are the tons of kids that are transferring in that you are referring to?

  13. RidgeRunnerE-5 October 23, 2016 11:37 am

    @Chloropicrin, Waianae definitely needs a OC with a wider range of schemes. But as I said in another post, it wouldn’t matter what plays were called last night, or who was calling them, Kahuku’s front was just wreaking havoc and making it hard to move the ball. As far as a “recruiting coach” goes, I’d rather lose with a roster of born and raised Waianae boys, than resort to recruiting or importing players from abroad.

  14. Paper Crane October 23, 2016 11:39 am

    RECRUITMENT; no matter what you want to call it and how it’s promoted, it’s still a personal preference that’s mostly family involvement and like 2016-2017 will see more new recruits coming from Talofa nation just watch and see like it’s factual based on their tuna issues?

  15. OGRRFL October 23, 2016 11:42 am

    Waianae has a great program that’s on the rise! Nothing but respect for my Westside people. They never made excuses, Kahuku has been blessed with talent and a great coaching staff. Enjoy the playoffs and be mindful of one another, say goods things, be respectful! Aloha! Go Big Red! !

  16. Chloropicrin October 23, 2016 11:51 am

    @ridgerunner: totally correct Kahuku’s D front was physical, athletic and beating the Waianae O line at the point of attack. If the boys up front can’t block the game is lost.

  17. Tutu Kane Ale October 23, 2016 1:00 pm

    Whenever or whoever brings out them negative issues of recruitment are definitely bottom line poor loser;…he, he, mo beta U vote fo Turump so he can stop all recruiting?

    eh, dats liif, lik mo powa to da playa; but why not, for recruiting is a athletic concept used widely at college and even professional level, so what’s your some people problem, for you some people it’s almost the same as PG15 to get into the recruitment file, so get real and accept them advantages of life.

  18. RidgeRunnerE-5 October 23, 2016 1:10 pm

    @homegrown…the Searider faithful were actually some of the most vocal supporters of Kahuku for their match against Gorman. There were many comments from Waianae fans wishing the Red Raiders good luck and hoping that they represent Hawaii well. It’s the ILH fanboys who were rooting for Gorman.

  19. Westside pride October 23, 2016 1:41 pm

    I bleed red n blue but Kahuku is the truth no one will stop them the only team that has a chance is st louis only reason is because of Tua….Waianae needs a huge upgrade in coaching staff especially at the oc. 16 quarters and no points with all that talent on offense cmon man.

  20. Unreal October 23, 2016 1:45 pm

    Only thing I have about Recruiting….look at our Hawaii football scene. If boys just stayed home to play at their local high schools, we’d have better quality games and better compettion. Just seems like all the talent is stockpiled at Punahou, St Louis, etc..Kahuku doesnt recruit, all strictly family rootz. Families send their boys to family on the North Shore to be apart of the Nation. If your schools had as much spirit as Kahuku has, maybe youd attract and retain kids too. No love like the love you’ll find on the North Shore. Ask Vili Fisiiahi (former Kaiser player now Kahuku O Lineman)…Went from troubled kid at Kaiser to loving Kahuku’s school atmosphere and friendliness. Build up your communities.

  21. 88 October 23, 2016 1:55 pm

    @WestsiePride-To be the best you have to play the best. Waianae is doing that and going through the process. Nowadays every one wants instant success without having to go through the process. The wins will come just got to be patient.

  22. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate October 23, 2016 2:11 pm

    hey why are my posts being deleted, puppys are cute and lovely we all love puppys. Is the admin a puppy hater? cmon now!

  23. 99boiz October 23, 2016 2:50 pm

    Why do things need a drastic change when you lose a game? No, Waianae does not need a new staff they are going in the right direction, just a few discipline issues and get rid of the cheap shots like how 26 blasted Kahukus QB from the back after he pitched it (7:12 mark)

    Waianae players do that a lot (cheap shots), it happened last year too in the jv title game a player clothes-lined a defensless Kahuku reciever.

  24. Chloropicrin October 23, 2016 3:50 pm

    @99bois same can be said for the Red Raider fans, people were calling for Torres and Leslie’s head when things weren’t going right. As an outsider looking in, Kahuku was still winning and on top, but others don’t really know what was going on.

    As for Waianae, there’s a lot of discipline issues which starts from home then translate to the field. The coaches enable the negative kinds of attitudes and behaviors, which ultimately bites them in the butt. #44 for example..he’s been a problem all year, but the coaches don’t show’em the gate. Old school Waianae coaches would have escorted bad apples to the gate. That’s why I think people are calling for change; well at least the OC and a few wannabe coaches who’s there for personal reasons i.e. Kids or families playing.

  25. Chloropicrin October 23, 2016 4:00 pm

    The cheap shots and the personal fouls from Waianae all year could have been dealt with early on by the coaches. But this year’s team is undisciplined, they follow their undisciplined coaches. Walter shows his frustration, which in turn his players feed off of that. That’s why I admire how Tata coaches, he has a poker face pretty much the entire game. Someone mentioned the mental edge that the Red Raiders have, I totally agree with that statement. Besides the physical attributes, they have the mental edge which is huge. That’s what seperated Ginoza, Mitsui and Taaca from the rest during their times because they had their teams physically and mentally prepared. Matsumoto had that, but lost it when his staff turned on him in the mid 2000’s and Walter done at have it. Sorry to say. He’s a pretty emotional person on the sidelines, which feeds off to his players.

  26. Mahatma Gandhi October 24, 2016 2:16 am

    LohuiLani, it was Cal Lee and St Louis who started the excessive all-out recruiting in the early 1980s, destroying the competitive balance of Hawaii state high school football. Punahou had to eventually recruit if it wanted to keep pace with St Louis. . I remember how much balance there was in the state in the 1970s. Every game was competitive. St Louis ruined everything. That’s why I disregard all these Kahuku blowouts nowadays. Because the OIA rosters are so depleted by ILH recruiting. Waipahu once was a OIA power. McKinley too. Kalaheo too.

  27. whine and cheese October 24, 2016 6:00 am

    whine whine whine. It’s super funny how every blog post about Kahuku somehow turns into a whine and blame session about ILH even though the post has nothing to do with private school. Leilehua ’98 grad. Do I want to see Leilehua do good? Sure. Do I know some good football players during my years who went to private school and play football? Yep. Do I try to turn every Leilehua loss or win about how evil Cal Lee is and how he and Kale Ane ruined the state of Hawaii? Nope.

    Message to OIA teams reading this blog: If your team won, good for those kids! If they lost, always get next year. Just play hard. Like that one person in the other blog post said in the comments, leave the whining about ILH this and that to the wahines on this blog.

  28. oia#1 October 24, 2016 9:12 am

    Whatusmokin and lisa, noone being salty. ??? Was asking for excuses and ive never made any so idk what she talking about. Its these kahuku fans that drive me nuts.

  29. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate October 24, 2016 11:07 am

    because all the town people kiss the behinds of these private school institutions and want your kids to go there. Kahuku fans are not afraid to call these people out on their shinanigans.

  30. Manley October 24, 2016 11:15 am

    No need to panic. Waianae has a good team. Coach Young and staff in year 2. They in the State Open and yes they did play the #1 team twice this year. These discipline problems will happen. They will beat Kapolei AGAIN. In fact they the best OIA team behind Kahuku. That break down game against Campbell threw the bracket off. They best start practicing a Double TE Jumbo set for the ILH team.

  31. oia#1 October 24, 2016 9:40 pm

    Yeah @lohui, we play great football out here but the kids keep leaving. @chloro no way we opening up pipelines, we win with our boys, we lose with our boys! I know we can! These are the some boys who beat them kahukus jv 20-0 at kahukus house. We just need better discipline and some new coaches. Young and the defensive staff can stay but offense went 16 quarters without a td and barely any first downs. Just by watching the way they play other teams i knew when we went up against kahuku it was gonna be the same result. Hopefully we meet again in the states but i think the results will be the same. Smh

  32. Chloropicrin October 25, 2016 5:13 pm

    @oia#1 I was being sacastic. Homegrown pride all the way.

    If you watched the other games all year, they were pretty much practice, as they ultimately prepared for Kahuku. But if the OLine cannot block, offense is going nowhere. However that’s also a credit to how good the big red machine is.

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