Kahuku is the No. 4 team in the state and the 127th-ranked team in the nation.
There aren’t many people around who would question the Red Raiders’ defense or running game or the offensive line’s ability to move the pile and open sometimes gaping holes.
The situation is a quite a bit different than a year ago, when the offense struggled and the defense carried the load. But there are similar aspects to it. While the offense is far from struggling this year, it is still quite one-dimensional.
Take a gander at these facts as the Red Raiders (4-0, 3-0 Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West) get deeper into the season:
>> The Red Raiders threw four passes in a 78-0 win over McKinley on Friday night. Starter Kesi Ah-Hoy, who also plays running back, went 1-for-1. Backup Cameron Renaud went 1-for-1 and hit Ah-Hoy on a swing pass for 26 yards and the team’s first touchdown pass of the season. Kekona Neumann, meanwhile, went 0-for-2. Renaud, a left-hander like Ah-Hoy, and Neumann also scored on touchdown runs.
>> The season’s starting quarterback, Jordan Mariteragi, showed poise in the 50-0 opener against Campbell, but threw just three passes. Two of those were intercepted, and offensive coordinator John Hao called that “two badly placed balls.”
>> Mariteragi, a 6-foot-3 junior, broke his collarbone in the Red Raiders’ 27-7 victory over Kapolei in the team’s second game of the season. Hao said he reinjured it while sleeping earlier this week and went in for surgery. It set back the recovery time, which was six-to-eight weeks originally.
OK, so you get the picture. Last season, Kahuku made it to the OIA final and the state semifinals despite a struggling offense that suffered even more when senior starter Tuli Wily-Matagi went down with a concussion during the critical portion of the second half in the 20-7 OIA final loss to Mililani.
Sure, Kahuku has an offense this season. Ground and pound, baby, as Al Davis might have said iff’n (it’s a word, look it up, not!) he was the man in charge on the North Shore. But what if the passing game is needed down the line? Will it show up? Shouldn’t games like McKinley be used for developing it?
Hawaii Prep World spoke with Hao after the win over the Tigers. He was asked about the pecking order at QB and what we can expect to see later on.
The question was a little different right around this point last season, when then-head coach Lee Leslie was given the ol’ “When is that new-age passing offense going to kick in?”
Leslie didn’t vocalize it at the time, but the answer was actually “never.” His plan was to start slow and maybe get it going by midseason, but he knew deep down that it was going to take a few years … years, as it turned out, that he didn’t end up sticking around for.
So, what does Hao say about the QBs now?
“Jordan was the starter,” he said. “He had beaten the others out by a nose. Kesi is our guy if we are going to be running the ball. The other two, who are neck and neck, are going to be in if we need to pass. And we’ll be doing what the defense gives us.”
Ah-Hoy, we should point out, has completed 11 of his 14 passes, and he clicked really well with tight end Pua Falemalu in a win over Kaiser. Ah-Hoy, however, looks more impressive when he takes a handoff and burns over tackle and crashes into a few defenders or finds daylight.
And so it goes. Mariteragi is probably the best one to keep the defenders guessing. Maybe he makes it back.
“Jordan has the best mix (passing and running),” Hao said. “Of the three others, Kesi is the best all-around. The other two are pocket QBs.”
It’s probably too early to ask and get an answer. But, it’s going to come up when the competition gets tougher:
Who is going to be the leader at quarterback?
Just something to think about.