Kahuku players hear from Utah’s Kyle Wittingham, Ron McBride

Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho will try to lead the Red Raiders to their first win over a mainland opponent since 2007. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Kahuku football players got to hear inspiring words from University of Utah head coach Kyle Wittingham and former Utes head coach Ron McBride on Wednesday.

Part of what the Red Raiders heard is affirmation of what they’re already doing in their tiny North Shore hamlet.

“Coach Wittingham told them that they recruit Kahuku football players not just because they’re tough, but because they’re great teammates,” Red Raiders coach Sterling Carvalho said via cell phone Wednesday. “That’s what he emphasized. They want great teammates even more than great players.”

McBride, who was the Utes’ head coach when Carvalho’s twin brother Stewart Carvalho was a running back there (and who has become a mentor to both of them), let them know how people on the mainland perceive Kahuku football.

“He said, ‘Kahuku is a storied program and you are carrying that on,’ ” Carvalho said.

The Red Raiders (3-1), ranked No. 4 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10, will play Timpview (1-2) in Provo, Utah, on Saturday. The game was originally supposed to be Friday, but in late August, it was moved to Saturday.

“Due to the overwhelming demand for tickets, our ability to provide adequate seating, and creating a positive environment for those who attend, the game between these two storied programs has been moved to Saturday, Sept. 7,” a statement on the Timpview website reads.

Three of four Hawaii players on the University of Utah roster came to also speak to the Kahuku boys Wednesday — safety Keala Santiago, defensive end Mika Tafua and defensive lineman Malik Haynes.

Santiago and Haynes played for Kahuku. Tafua is a former Kamehameha player. Defensive end Bradlee Anae, a former Kahuku standout, had classes and did not greet the Red Raiders.

Anae and Tafua are the starting bookends on the Utes’ defensive line.

“We toured the Utah campus and saw the football facilities, the meeting rooms, the weight rooms and the practice field,” Carvalho said. “We’re practicing to get acclimated to the weather. Practices then study hall and team meetings (Wednesday and Thursday) and then let the body rest (Friday).”

The Kahuku and Timpview players will unite for a luau on Thursday night.

On Friday, according to Carvalho, the Red Raiders will have dinner courtesy of Lauvale Sape, a former Leilehua and University of Utah and NFL defensive tackle with the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders.

“He has a surprise for us,” Carvalho said about Sape. “And he will have one or two other NFL players with him. We’ll also have team bonding and a coaches corner on Friday.”

The Red Raiders would have gone to the Northern Illinois vs. Utah game on Saturday if the Timpview game was on Friday.

“It’s before our game, but we’d be pushing it if we went, so we’ll watch it at our hotel,” Carvalho said.

The Red Raiders are coming off a dominant 35-7 victory over Campbell in which they rushed for 440 yards.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Carvalho said. “We’re getting better every game. Any team wants to see that — progress as the season goes on. It’s not just our schemes, but our chemistry as a team. Yes, we executed, but we executed as a team. There are some things that we’re still doing wrong that we’ll fix up.”

Offensive line coach Reggie Torres, a former Kahuku head coach, thinks Timpview will be a great test for his horses up front.

“Timpview has some really big linemen,” he said. “So we’ll see in this game how much we’ve really improved.”

The Timpview Thunderbirds run a spread offense, according to Carvalho.

“They’re big up front on both sides of the ball and they have a good, mobile, dual-threat quarterback,” he said.

For sure, Carvalho has winning on his mind.

“To be honest, the mainland hasn’t been nice to Kahuku in recent years. We’ve gotta put it in perspective. The trip is great, but it’s business,” he said. “Hat’s off to Hawaii teams who were 5-0 last weekend (with wins over mainland teams by No. 1 Saint Louis, No. 2 Mililani, No. 3 Punahou, No. 8 Damien and Kapolei, which is just outside of the Top 10).”

Carvalho mentioned that the new Open Division and it’s rugged schedule has helped Hawaii teams.

“Because of that, we’re getting used to the speed and the grind of playing mainland teams,” he added.

The Red Raiders’ last win against a mainland team came in 2006, when they beat visiting Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.) 25-6.

Since then, it’s been four straight losses against out-of-state teams — 27-0 at Bingham (South Jordan, Utah) in 2007; 38-15 to East High in Salt Lake City in 2013; 35-7 to Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas in 2016; and 17-0 to Bingham at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas in 2017.


  1. rrforlifebaby September 5, 2019 10:21 am

    Good luck Boys!!


  2. 808 September 5, 2019 10:43 am

    *Mika Tafua
    Not Tafuna

    Do you guys even proofread before you send it to the press?

  3. ??? September 5, 2019 11:01 am


  4. Nick Abramo September 5, 2019 11:23 am

    Hi 808:

    Thanks for reading the story!! Thanks for pointing out the misspelling!! Aloha.

  5. 96730to89 September 5, 2019 12:26 pm

    @808…ease up. You didn’t have to be a grump about it.

    Nick, mahalo for the great story.

  6. Good Story September 5, 2019 4:12 pm

    Tafua is Samoan
    Tafuna is Tongan

    That’s just the tip of the iceberg…Family names are Sacred…take the time and get it right.

  7. Simple Simon September 5, 2019 4:37 pm

    @Good Story
    Tafuna is a village in American Samoa. Bye Good Story!!! lol

  8. Howard Unebasami September 5, 2019 6:29 pm

    Is Kahuku really 3-1 like the article say. I thought the at lest lose to St. Louis and Mililani. Maybe they don’t count. They need all the help they can get. Before the pride of the OIA.

  9. Simple Simon September 6, 2019 5:14 am

    Coach Carvalho is an alumni of University of utah. They took a visit to the University of Utah. Then they will be treated by University of Utah alumni Lauvale Sape. Seems like a University of Utah trip for the Head Coach. Very interesting. Why didn’t he set things up with the humongous Kahuku alumni base they have there in Utah? Very very interesting.

  10. HLI September 6, 2019 12:51 pm

    Tatuna is good with onions and mayo.


  11. 88 September 6, 2019 3:33 pm

    @Simple Simon
    Tāfuna is a village in Am. Samoa.
    Tafuna is a common Tongan last name here on our side of the island. BIG DIFFERENCE…. k bye.

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