Kapolei had its third string quarterback starting and he learned quickly what the Kahuku defense is all about.
Freddie Gregorio, a junior, wound up getting sacked 11 times as the Red Raiders took the bus ride home from Kapolei to the North Shore with a 39-0 victory Friday night.
Kapolei’s more experienced quarterbacks Noa Bailey (collarbone) and Mason Gomez (ankle) are out with injuries. Earlier in the day, Gomez rolled his ankle in physical education basketball.
“I kind of felt sorry for Kapolei, having to go with an untested quarterback,” Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho said. “Injuries are a big part of football. Hopefully, Kapolei can bounce back from that.”
Despite those 11 sacks, Gregorio still completed eight of his 16 passes for 74 yards.
But that Kahuku defense was unyielding and also hungry for points. The Red Raiders held Kapolei to minus-86 yards rushing, due mostly to those sacks. They also came up with two safeties.
The defensive stalwarts for Kahuku (5-2, 3-1 OIA Open) were many.
>> Ace Kaufusi had two sacks, another tackle for loss and a punt block in the Kapolei end zone for a safety.
>> Alan Talanoa had four sacks, including one for a safety.
>> Kana Fonoimoana-Vaomu had a sack and a tackle for loss in addition to a 10-yard touchdown catch on offense.
>> Ben Masaniai had two sacks.
>> Joseph Taufa, Iosua Fiu, Elijah Latu and Zion Ah You all had either a sack or a tackle for loss.
>> Tomasi Pasi and Peter John Mataira intercepted one pass each. Pasi returned his 63 yards for a touchdown.
“It was pretty hard,” said the Hurricanes’ Gregorio after spending most of the night running for his life. “We’ll fight through it. Yeah, they’re pretty good. They came off hot, blitzing from the start.”
Asked about the work of Talanoa, Kaufusi and Fonoimoana-Vaomu, Kahuku’s Carvalho said, “I mean those guys work hard every single day. How they play is how they practice. They have a nose for the ball. They’re always going to the ball. I’m grateful they’re on our defense and we’re only playing against them in practice. I wouldn’t want to face them.”
Offensively, Zealand Matagi was held to 24 yards rushing in the first half, but broke two long runs after the break and finished with 108 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s basically our best player on offense next to Jack Tito,” Carvalho said.
Tito, a blocking machine, is the one leading the way.
“He opens up the holes,” the coach said. “Blocking fullback is an endangered species. A fullback is not needed on many teams. But he plays a pivotal role, even blocking in our passing game. Hat’s off to those unselfish players who do their job and don’t complain.”
Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez — who doesn’t know the return time for either Bailey or Gomez — was proud of his boys for not giving up in the shutout that dropped them to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the league.
“They stacked the box and blitzed every play,” he said. “Freddie is a tough kid. That was his first-ever varsity start. What a way to start — against a defense like that. They gave us a hard time and we gave up a ton of sacks. Our defense was out there too long. We couldn’t muster drives and we couldn’t get the ball to our playmakers, (De’Zhaun) Stribling and Bula White.”
Stribling, one of the OIA’s top receivers, managed four catches for 47 yards.