Kahuku starts preparation for 2020 after stinging 45-6 title-game loss

Kahuku quarterback Tiger Adolpho (19) led the Red Raiders in passing as a junior. He later transferred back to Idaho before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

The future starts now for Kahuku. No sense stewing over 45-6 loss to a team ranked No. 6 in the nation.

This year is done. The Raiders gave their ever-faithful fans an OIA championship last month and yet another appearance in the Open Division final of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships.

Anybody watching Friday’s nightcap of the title-day, Black Friday tripleheader saw that Saint Louis was a far superior team. There is a huge gulf between the Crusaders and everybody else, except for Punahou, which came close twice to beating the boys from Kalaepohaku in 25-19 and 21-14 losses.

But next year is when teams can begin to close the gap, and that will be pretty high on the minds of the Kahuku brass.

“The future is bright, so I hope that they come out and train for next year,” said Red Raiders coach Sterling Carvalho, whose team finished 9-4. “The deal is that when you play a good team like this, you cannot make mistakes and you have to execute. We gotta go back and make sure we do those two things. Saint Louis is a dynasty. Their program is a great one. They have great coaches. Who wouldn’t want to play for those coaches?”

Carvalho is talking about Cal Lee, who added yet another title to a long list, his brother Ron Lee, the offensive guru, and Vinny Passas, who has mentored quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota and Tua Tagovailoa, among other top-of-the-heap assistant coaches.

Major highlights on Friday were few for the Red Raiders. Zealand Matagi and the offensive line did their best. Matagi picked up 79 rushing yards and bulled his way for a 38-yard touchdown, and the good news is he is only a junior. All told this season, Matagi pounded out 1,418 rushing yards.

A senior who won’t be back next year, Peter-John Mataira, came up with what was almost a huge play for Kahuku, giving their fans the feeling that they were in for a close ballgame. Mataira picked off a Jayden deLaura pass and returned it 84 yards into the end zone. It was called back on a penalty, so Kahuku — instead of closing the gap from a 14-6 deficit — still trailed by eight.

Mataira finished the contest with 4.5 tackles and also made several pass breakups that helped to temporarily slow down the Saint Louis offense. Fellow seniors Kenai Luia (6.5 tackles) and Kana Fonoimoana-Vaomu (5 tackles) and his brother Mana Fonoimoana-Vaomu (4.5 tackles) chipped in with big defensive efforts against the Crusaders (12-0).

Ace Kaufusi made the Red Raiders’ highlight reel Friday with a punt block.

The 6-foot-3, 320-pound Sione Heimuli got a loud cheer from fans late in the game when he recovered a teammates’ fumble, advanced it and stayed upright for a long time while at least six tacklers tried to bring him down.

Right guard Harrington Wa’a was ejected for two consecutive personal-foul penalties (targeting and taunting) and his effort (not necessarily the lack of sportsmanship) in the face of defeat got a large cheer on his way to the locker room.

“I’m playing for Kahuku and the fans and the boys,” Harrington said. “I’m going to miss it. But I wouldn’t want to go out any other way (than having been a Red Raider). I’m playing for my boys and putting my life on the line for them.”

After winning the top-tier state title in 2015, Kahuku has now lost in the Open Division state final in three of the last four years.

There’s some big names coming back. Aside from Matagi, two-way player Tomasi Pasi — the hero of a 21-19 state semifinal win over Campbell returns, and so do quarterbacks Tiger Adolpho and Jason Mariteragi, receiver Cole Pruett, fullback Jack Tito, and defensive tackle Zion Ah You, to name a few.

So Kahuku can expect another strong season next year. Is there enough in the think tank and the player pool to get past Saint Louis? That is the same question Punahou and the other Open Division rivals are asking.

“It was a good season, a good run,” Red Raiders senior cornerback Kaonohi Kaniho said. “Nobody was thinking we would be playing in this game. It was good to prove those people wrong. Shout out to Saint Louis. They’re a great team. There’s going to be a lot of returning guys. There’s no dropoff in the next class. Saint Louis is pretty dominant. The best team each night wins the game and they’re the best guys tonight.”

Matagi, a junior, said, “We’re going to put in the grind in the offeason and make sure we know this (losing) feeling and next year to not hold back. I’m not that mad. We did our best. We tried. That’s the most important thing. My boys did our best. Our team is still young. I feel like we’re going to be pretty good next year.”


  1. Rrforlifebaby November 29, 2019 11:38 pm

    Back to work boys! Good season considering how it started. Congrats to the Crusaders.


  2. Truth November 29, 2019 11:48 pm

    Ok let’s hear it ? Excuses ????????????????????????? ???????????????????

  3. HailFromDaNorth November 29, 2019 11:50 pm

    Feel the loss boys, let it drive you to work hard and come back better. A set back to a huge come back. It took your uncles, dads. 14 years on the sideline watching them win year after year. And like all dynasty they all fall. Saint Louis no doubt is a hell of a team, but what these boys from the community knows is stick to the formula, ask your dad, cousin, uncles. They know. Faith, and family will get you there. You boys are raised from humble beginnings and have to work for everything. Trust in god and be humble. Let it drive you boys! Come back bigger, stronger, faster and smarter. I love my Red Raiders with all my heart and love the community in which I was raised. Always and forever #RR4L

  4. HailFromDaNorth November 29, 2019 11:53 pm

    To you senior boys. The job is still not done. Go out and make your mark on the world. You guys know what hard work, discipline is all about. Carry what you learn from the game into adult hood. Keep striving, and always represent.

  5. really November 30, 2019 12:03 am

    STL’s Dynasty ended because Cal left STL to coach at UH. He also got complacent. When the fire came back, he took back what is his.

    On a side note, 88 thinks winning by 25 is the same thing as winning by 39 with the mercy rule in effect.

  6. HailFromDaNorth November 30, 2019 12:17 am

    No excuses, Saint Louis was the better team. Well disciplined kids, very good coaching. Hats off to them their national ranked for a reason. Congrats on the 4-peat boys.

  7. Paul November 30, 2019 12:31 am

    It’s coming to a point that the HHSAA should just hand the title to St. Louis before the season starts and then play the season cause until a team can come and actually beat the Crusaders, they will always win the Open Division title.

  8. Good Story November 30, 2019 12:32 am

    Great win Crusaders…no other way to interpret what I saw…clearly the BEST team in the state. Until next year…

  9. 88 November 30, 2019 12:49 am

    @really dude nobody cares bro. You out here on a sports blog trying to make friends like its eHarmony or something.. That’s some funny shet bro.

  10. hawaii football fan November 30, 2019 1:25 am

    why is everyone making like kahuku had a horrible team? they were ranked #24 in last weeks maxpreps poll. they played the #6 team in the nation.

  11. DennisTadio November 30, 2019 2:03 am

    Hats off to Kahuku tonight. They battled til the end and it was nice seeing the Red Sea Out there in full force again…. See you guys next year , Let’s keep making each other better and get our boys to the next level.. Love you Crusader Nation

  12. HailFromDaNorth November 30, 2019 3:01 am

    @DennisTadio well said brotha. Iron sharpens iron. And when it’s all said and done we all root for the Hawaii boys who go out and represent on the college stage. Go out there and represent boys.

  13. HailFromDaNorth November 30, 2019 3:12 am

    I don’t wanna hear all this (Recruiting this, and recruiting that, if it wasn’t for the bad ref calls) Eh never mind already! What’s done is done, and guess what the same thing is gonna happen next year. We can’t teach our kids to make excuses. Just go out with what you got and make the best of it. Life ain’t easy you ain’t always gonna be dealt the best hand, but Through dedication, hardwork anything is possible. Here’s to another season! Now go out and challenge yourself in the off season. What I liked about this season is how many schools played mainland teams? How many teams beat them? I know it was quite a streak. Hawaii football is being put up on a map. Recruiters and everyone wanna see what we’re all about. This tiny little island in the middle of the sea can produce so much talent. And it’s all due to the fact and everyone is making is other better. Nothing but love and respect.

  14. HailFromDaNorth November 30, 2019 3:17 am

    Tua, breiden fehoko, Dillion Gabriel, Bradlee Anae all the boys from the 808. They all my cousins. Eh even my mom side the palangi side, Mckenzie Milton he my cousin too lol.

  15. RidgeRunnerDD-214 November 30, 2019 4:33 am

    Something tells me that there’s gonna be a lot of “ohana transfers” in Kahuku’s 2020 roster.

  16. RedRooted November 30, 2019 5:49 am

    Congrats to St.Louis for an Awesome display of well coached talent…For the parents who send their kids there to play football and increase their skills, money well spent.
    Keep your head up Red Raiders, you did your best and that’s all that matters. Your community is proud of you…Go and Enjoy the Holidays and come next year it’s back to the off-season training…
    Go Big Red…RR4L

  17. justaguy November 30, 2019 6:35 am

    Rules + Recruiting + Refs = Cal Lee Dynasty

    nuff said!

  18. justaguy November 30, 2019 6:40 am


    Keep saying that and keep getting taken advantaged of, nothing in life is easy? It sure looked easy for St. Louis and its easy for big money to put up those turbines. Stop accepting the butt end of life and open your mouth to expose greed and politics in the ILH, mainly St. Louis football.

  19. Nalei 11 November 30, 2019 7:08 am

    Good season Kahuku. Awesome season St. Louis. I’m a Kahuku fan, But stop all this non sense already on recruits. That the plus of private schools!! Maybe that’s what we need to do also with the football program?? We do the same thing with our basketball program here at Kahuku and no one complains!! When we won the basketball championship couple of years ago, 1/2 the team was recruits!! And I am a huge Kahuku fan. So reload, and get ready fir next year!!!!

  20. HailFromDaNorth November 30, 2019 7:15 am

    @justaguy it’s people like you who complain of being the butt of things, but don’t do anything about it. Yeah it looked easy for them because they worked hard for it! Recruiting this and that! Pfff we get kids from our own community going to school out there. It is what it is. Be humble and go and compete. Take what you learn from football. Hard work will get you to where you wanna go. I no give a rats about politics in the ILH or Saint Louis. I worry about what we can control and that’s going out and do what we always do. Go out and work hard and comepete. Nuff said!

  21. Hau’ulaBoy November 30, 2019 7:16 am

    Proud of this team, this community and all of the work they put in. We will be back!!!!

  22. Really November 30, 2019 7:39 am

    And here’s 88. The dufus that thinks a 25 point loss and a 39 point loss with the mercy rule in effect is the same.

    88 is the same dufus that talks big but now posts with his tail between his legs.

    He wishes he could play. He talks a big game. But not he got neutered.

    88 is still the biggest clown and 10 time HHSAA Open League Champion in Fantasy Sports, the closest he ever came to playing.

  23. ??? November 30, 2019 8:05 am


  24. HailFromDaNorth November 30, 2019 8:10 am

    @???? Mililani was filled for “transfers” eh it’s all good.

  25. WhatUp November 30, 2019 8:36 am

    St Louis won… They are stacked in every position. But you know what. Had that pick six counted that could have been a tide changer that would have put us within a couple points. Then it was almost halftime. Could have been different. It wasn’t.

    If you go back. Kahuku lost in 2016… similar fashion. They were one the 1 yard line, first and goal down 2 TDs and then lost the ball.

    Go back even farther, look at your prep bowl scores… many of those loses by fewer than 7 points.

    I have no doubt the Kahuku red raiders will be back and hungry.

    Believe boyz… BELIEVE!!!

  26. ItIsWhatItIs November 30, 2019 9:05 am

    @ ??? & and all the other so called victims!!!!
    It is fair for everyone to recruit! In fact it’s easier for a OIA team to recruit. If it was as simple as just recruiting Kamehameha would be #1. It’s coaching. Parents WANT to send their kids to STL because of the COACHING!! Week in and week out they look like the more prepared team. And please enough about the million dollar budget and world class facilities. Go take a look at the facilities if you don’t believe me. A lot goes into being a Crusader. And that’s why the word Brotherhood means so much! Yes these young men have amazing GOD given talent, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work hard. Stop diminishing what they have earned. These are young men who are just playing football. If you got a problem about the system fine, but enough with the HATE. Congrats to both teams!!

  27. ??? November 30, 2019 9:32 am

    @ ItIsWhatItIs
    It’s not Hate it’s FACTS! STL won it’s 4th straight title which Was expected; it’s like Waialua playing Mililani with their transfers; Waialua has ZERO chance to win that game. “Common Sense”
    The same reason Nobody can beat Punahou boys volleyball..

  28. ??? November 30, 2019 9:36 am

    @ ItIsWhatItIs
    It’s Hilarious how everyone is saying kids go to STL for Cal Lee!
    Isn’t STRANGE how NO kid followed him to Kalani?
    SMH. Just stop with the Nonsense!!!!

  29. ItIsWhatItIs November 30, 2019 9:55 am

    Follow him to Kalani? How the hell do you get recruited from Kalanai? I’m talking about kids trying to get D1 offers. And him and Ron did well there!
    Times have changed. Before it was very, very hard to get recruited out of the islands. Every year it was a hand full of kids getting rides. Now schools are coming here looking at these young men, and STL being nationally ranked has a lot to do with that. I’m not down playing that the private schools have a advantage because of what they offer. But that doesn’t mean public schools have no chance. Kahuku has the most state titles!!

  30. Lou November 30, 2019 11:12 am

    The Open championship was worst game of the 3 title games. Sorry folks but this is the end results.

  31. ??? November 30, 2019 11:30 am

    @ ItIsWhatItIs
    Make up your mind? You said kids want to play for Cal Lee now you saying how do you get recruited from Kalani even with Cal Lee there? Is it Cal Lee or STL that kids want to play for?
    You’re right, times have changed with recruiting but not because STL is Nationally ranked; they’ve been ranked since the 80’s-90’s and Hawaii kids still had very few DI offers! Better training, coaching, camps/clinics & most of all social media is what is getting kids DI offers.

  32. ??? November 30, 2019 11:42 am

    @ ItIsWhatItIs
    Your statement: Cal & Ron did well at Kalani..
    2012-2014 Kalani went 14-14. Let Cal do that at STL and he would be fired in a heartbeat like he was fired in his first coaching stint at STL. “Speak Facts” No recruiting, No winning. (PERIOD)

  33. Recruited not Rooted November 30, 2019 12:04 pm

    @ ??? Your logic will get kids no where in life. Typical liberal/victim mentality. Let’s me make it clear, Saint Louis makes EVERYBODY better. Better people, better teams, better companies make the competition have to work harder just to keep up. Such is life. Call it the Tiger woods effect. Besides Puns almost beat Stl twice this year with a backup QB, who knows if Brady doesn’t get hurt. Kahuku has a lot of young talent and will be a real challenger for Stl going forward. The Open Division has made everybody step up their game. I think we all can agree on one thing though, Hawaii high school football is better when Kahuku is great. So no cry, just try…..HARDER! Can’t wait till next year!!!

  34. Recruited not Rooted November 30, 2019 12:08 pm

    Let me also be very clear, nobody benefited more from the OIA/ILH merger than the OIA and I’m talking FINANCIALLY. GO ahead and walk away OIA, I dare you. You’ll be right there in the welfare line with @???.

  35. to good times November 30, 2019 12:32 pm

    Where’s the anybody, anywhere, anytime mentality? There’s no complaining about recruiting, facilities, number of players/coaches, budget, etc. when we play a high caliber mainland school. We embrace the challenge. If we lose we still want to play another mainland team because when we win the glory will be even greater.

  36. Recruited not Rooted November 30, 2019 12:54 pm

    @ to good times EXACTLY, thank you!

  37. LOu November 30, 2019 1:08 pm

    @recruitednot rooted. “The Open will make the OIA better teams”?? St.L. went mercy rule all the OIA teams this year and wanted to blank the 2 tourney teams? Huh?? Like Felipe and Hernandez said, time to disband. It’s like UH playing Ohio State 2 times.

  38. ??? November 30, 2019 1:26 pm

    @Recruited not Rooted
    Your screen name “SAYS IT ALL”

  39. Recruited not Rooted November 30, 2019 1:40 pm

    @ LOu But it’s ok for Kahuku to mercy rule Campbell, Castle, Leileihua, Waiphu etc in 2015 and before. Yup that’s sure making the OIA better. Got it lol. And who’s going to pay for Saint Louis’ travel, the Hawaii tourism authority??? As @ good times says, what happened to the anybody, anywhere, anytime mentality smh. Thankfully the kids don’t think like some of these adults on here.

  40. Recruited not Rooted November 30, 2019 1:42 pm

    @ ??? So does yours lol, you don’t have a clue!😂😂

  41. Just saying November 30, 2019 2:29 pm

    There is more to attending Saint Louis than football. Cal Lee built a program that was successful, like the Field of Dream, “if you build it he will come.” So they come. But in the end, the strength of attending SL is not in the consecutive Prep Bowls that were attained or the 4 straight State titles, it’s the network of contacts that a young man will have for life that’s called the Brotherhood..from white collar to blue collar contacts that will have his and his family’s back for life.

  42. ??? November 30, 2019 2:56 pm

    @ Recruited not Rooted
    I State Facts! all you state is STL is way better than everybody else “DUH” that’s why you see clueless everyday when you look in the mirror.
    The same Clueless guy that compared the “Tiger Woods effect” to the open division. LMFAO ….

  43. ??? November 30, 2019 2:59 pm

    @ Just saying
    Get it straight: “If you RECRUIT them, they will come!!

  44. ??? November 30, 2019 3:27 pm

    @ Recruited not Rooted
    All your post:
    STL recruits “Duh”
    STL has the best players “Duh”
    STL has the best & most coaches “Duh”
    STL smashes everybody “Duh”
    STL is state champs “Duh”
    Your Real name is “DUH”

  45. Lou November 30, 2019 4:03 pm

    recruited rooty, 2015 ????Castle?Leilehua?Waipahu? how about when Stl.when mercy rule damien, pac5,iolani?? Yeah right, Neva happen.

  46. just saying November 30, 2019 5:07 pm

    @???..u beat on a dead dog🤣

  47. Recruited not Rooted November 30, 2019 8:14 pm

    @??? & @ Lou Jeeezzz you two are like talking to a wall and dense as a bag of rocks. You make my point for me and don’t even realize it. Do you prefer 2015 with Kahuku mercy ruling Castle, Kailua, Waipahu, Leilehua etc and Saint Louis doing the same to Pac 5, Damien and Iolani or what we have now? Anybody with half a brain would agree with me that we’re better off in 2019. You should be proud that the Open Division is as good as any in the country. Look it up, at one point we had #6, #27, #39 and #72. No other league in the entire country besides the Trinity League can boast that. Just because we have an Alabama in our Open Division doesn’t mean you need to take your ball and go home. Man up, grow a pair and rise to the challenge, which is what these kids have been doing since the inception of this pilot program and I’m very proud of all these teams for raising their level of play. In the mean time why don’t you two go buy each other a participation trophy for Xmas lol.

  48. Recruited not Rooted November 30, 2019 9:02 pm

    BTW my job as a parent is to give my son the best opportunity to succeed in life. Saint Louis does that. Nobody forced us to go there, it was our choice. You call that recruiting, I call that smart and a great decision on our part. If you don’t like it tough s@#t. It’s within the rules and you and anybody else can do the same.

  49. ??? November 30, 2019 9:47 pm


  50. TooMeke December 1, 2019 1:59 pm

    Congrats St Louis! No doubt about you’re the best in state. And you represent Hawaii well as one of the best in the entire country. Good for you.

    I’m RRFL…and I don’t want hear any excuses or any noise about recruiting. That’s reality. Did the refs suck? Yes, but even with perfect refs, it would’ve been a rout.

    Personally, if your son is good enough to get a scholarship, then I don’t understand why you send him to St Louis…he can get his scholarships REGARDLESS of where he plays. And don’t tell me better education. St Louis’ academics are average and on the same level as public schools. Dey ain’t puns, iolani or even St Francis…so please stop saying “academics” when you try to validate your decision. Just be honest and say you don’t think your son is good enough to garner attention from recruiters UNLESS they play for St Louis. Simple as that. And I got no problem with that honesty.

    Everybody else gotta recruit better than St Louis and Puns. Das da bottom line. So let’s get some Ohana transfers to big red and millz, etc. So when we do win, then the crusaders and puns fans can cry for about how they got out-recruited. How you think we won a b-ball state championship?? Duh.

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