It’s on to Cleveland … er … Campbell for the Kahuku football team after winning Friday’s big home matchup against Waianae, 28-0.
The last sentence was a reference to Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots’ head coach who doesn’t give out a ton of information to the media and repeated multiple times that, “It’s on to Cleveland,” who the Patriots were playing the next weekend, to a reporter inquiring about Belichick’s thoughts after a victory.
Like Belichick, Red Raiders head coach Vavae Tata does not say a real lot to the media, and that’s his prerogative. His mantra this year is “We’re 1-0,” in reference to each win as they happen so far in the third week of the season.
But Tata did say something telling in his 23-second interview after Friday’s game, which occurred while he was busy helping someone move the home team’s bench near a muddy sideline.
“We did some good things, but we’re not close to where we need to be,” Tata said. “If we play like we’re capable of playing, it should have been a different outcome.”
Well, seriously, thank you very much for that!! That says a lot in not so many words. The Red Raiders were in a close game, but ended up showing Waianae who’s boss by the end of the third quarter.
In Tata’s mind, Kahuku (3-0, 3-0 Oahu Interscholastic Association Blue) can play way, way better and that is a scary thought. They just shut out the No. 4 team in the land.
But the No. 1 team — those Kahuku boys — got it done with their offensive line. The back-breaking drive came at the end of the third quarter. A 12-play, ram-it-down-your-throat special in which Kahuku’s offensive line just kept on moving the pile. Elvis Vakapuna scored his second 10-yard TD for a 14-0 with 50 seconds to go in the third.
“When we went to the locker room (at halftime), we told ourselves it’s 0-0 and at the end of the day success will come if everyone does their job,” center Vili Fisiiahi said. “They (Waianae) match up physically with us, but we looked in the mirror and asked ourselves how bad we want it. We wanted that badly.”
Fisiiahi, a senior, gave props to his linemate, right guard Marcus Lombard.
“Marcus is only a freshman and he stepped to the plate when we needed him,” Fisiiahi said.
No Waianae player or coach will tell you this, but being in a 7-0 game through nearly three quarters against the defending Division I state champions is somewhat of an accomplishment for the Seariders (3-1, 2-1).
“Our defense hunkered down, but we just needed our offense to catch our backs,” said Waianae linebacker Jaylen Gonzales, who had a monster night making tackles all over the field. “We were on the field the whole night”
Fisiiahi and Gonzales both said it was “fun” to play in the game with the stakes so high. Fisiiahi said he is good friends with many Waianae players, and mentioned offensive lineman Onesimus Clarke, linebacker Josiah Viliamu and Gonzales as a few of them.
All told, Kahuku’s defense held Waianae to nine yards passing and 23 yards rushing. The Red Raiders’ offense ran for 240 yards and threw for another 39.
It was not bombs away, just as you would expect a Kahuku-Waianae struggle to go.
Harmon Brown ran for 90 yards on 18 carries and a TD for the Red Raiders, and Vakapuna rushed for 65 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for 25 yards.
Rico Rosario was Waianae’s leading ground gainer with 42 yards on nine carries.
Waianae’s Tony Cabral blocked a 37-yard field-goal attempt by Stokes Nihipali-Botelho in the first half. Nihipali-Botelho, from his cornerback position, came through with a second-quarter interception of Seariders quarterback Jaren Ulu.
Kahuku won the turnover battle 2-0. On a blitz, safety Kesi Ah-Hoy punched the ball out of Ulu’s hands late in the game and teammate Sioeli Naupoto recovered in the Seariders’ end zone for Kahuku’s final touchdown.
The Red Raiders’ offense set up in multiple formations, including the jumbo package, the traditional I-formation as well as some 4-wide sets. Four players took snaps from center, Brown, Sol-Jay Maiava, Ah-Hoy and Vakapuna. Ah-Hoy gained four yards on fourth down for a first down on his only carry. He was the main player taking snaps as a quarterback in the elephant package in last season’s 39-14 Division I state championship victory over Saint Louis.
Among the game’s other defensive standouts were Kahuku’s Aliki Vimahi (sack), Sedric Iafeta (sack), Christopher Tuliloa (sack), Kekaula Kaniho (sack) and Tema Lindsay (tackle for loss), and Waianae’s Viliamu (sack), Sireadan Sana (tackle for loss) and Brandon Hattori (tackle for loss).
Kahuku plays its final home game of the season against Campbell (2-2, 2-1) next Saturday. Waianae hosts Kaiser (2-2, 1-2) next Friday.