Kahuku’s football program has produced some of the greatest games in state history, but a win over Saint Louis tonight in the 21st top-tier state championship could produce the biggest upset.
Despite being the OIA champion, Kahuku seems to have everything going against it when Sterling Carvalho leads his charges against Cal Lee‘s dynasty on Friday night.
The Red Raiders are tasked with taking out a Saint Louis team that throttled them 28-0 in just a half before making the long drive home. This is the fourth time in the state-championship era that the top-tier title game is a rematch from the regular season and all three previous teams swept: Punahou over Mililani in 2013, Kahuku over Punahou in 2012 and Saint Louis against ultimate underdog Waianae in 2010.
If the Red Raiders can beat a Crusaders crew that is built around a senior class that is 42-1 in their careers it could go down as the biggest upset in state championship history.
Kahuku can become the first top-tier state champion with three losses since Andrew Manley‘s miracle Leilehua Mules dropped unbeaten Saint Louis in 2007. Those Mules were 5-4 before Manley came up from the JV and went on a run capped off with a 20-16 win over a Crusaders team led by Mich Mamiya, Keani Nishigaya and Billy Stutzman.
That Saint Louis team was probably even more of a juggernaut than this one, allowing only Punahou and Kamehameha to finish within a touchdown of them and scoring more than 50 points twice.
Only two Prep Bowl champions had three or more losses, with 9-3 Saint Louis upsetting unbeaten Kahuku in 1993 and Don Botelho‘s magical 1985 Pac-Five team (7-3) that took out perennial OIA power Waianae (9-3), but that hardly qualifies as an upset after a season of unmatched parity.
The biggest upset in Prep Bowl was not technically an upset at all since it had two winners and no loser. Eddie Hamada‘s 1980 ‘Iolani team shared the title with unbeaten and largely unchallenged Waianae after a thrilling 7-7 tie.
Kahuku doesn’t have to worry about a tie with Saint Louis this time, unless the lights go out at Aloha Stadium at the wrong time.
Kahuku can take heart in the fact that 10 teams have walked into the building for a Prep Bowl or State Championship and walked away with its first and only loss of the season. It has happened to the Red Raiders (2009, 1998, 1994) and Crusaders (2007, 2006, 2000) three times each with 2014 Punahou, 1988 Waianae and 1976 Radford the others.