After the uproar surrounding Lee Leslie‘s hiring at Kahuku earlier this year, it’s hard to imagine the attention not shining brightly on the first-year Red Raiders coach.
Somehow, that’s exactly the case despite Kahuku’s impressive 3-0 start.
The Red Raiders continued to roll in the OIA Red with a 41-7 win over McKinley on Friday night at Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium.
Despite moving to 3-0 and up to third in the Star-Advertiser Top 10 poll, Kahuku has rolled along quietly as the focus has been on defending OIA champion Mililani and ILH Division I schools Punahou and Kamehameha (for good reason) and Saint Louis (not so much).
Only two other head coaches have not tasted a loss, Walter Santiago went 3-0 subbing for Reggie Torres at Kahuku in 2011 and Waldemar Doane guided Radford to three wins in the OIA playoffs and Oahu Prep Bowl when John Velasco died in 1981.
The Red Raiders are averaging nearly 42 points a game so far with a new-look offense that has given quarterback Tuli Wily-Matagi many more opportunities to make big plays.
Wily-Matagi, despite not practicing all week with an illness, was 11-for-18 for 147 yards and two touchdowns against the Tigers.
“Tuli was sick with a virus all week and did not practice and showed it a little bit,” Leslie said. “He was a little bit off with timing on some things. When we’re off on our timing or see dumb penalties, that’s when I get in a bad mood.”
Kesi Ah-Hoy rushed for 115 yards and three touchdowns as the Red Raiders took a 27-0 lead over the Tigers at halftime.
Twelve different Red Raiders had at least one rushing attempt against the Tigers as Leslie again used the majority of his roster for the second straight week.
Second- and third-string players have gotten plenty of reps over the last two weeks as Leslie builds depth, something he was focused on from the moment he arrived on campus.
“I’m really big into depth charts and repetitions,” Leslie said. “This film will help with some of the young guys who do not get a lot of chances to play.”
Kahuku has a bye next week before a game at Castle on Sept. 12. The schedule then gets a little tougher as the Red Raiders finish the regular season with Kaiser, Leilehua and Waianae.
“I’ve got to make sure some of these games don’t backfire on us,” Leslie said. “That’s my concern right now. I usually don’t look forward to the bye week but this is a good one for us. We’ll get the younger kids in on film and the older kids in the weight room and dialed in for what’s coming.”
No. 3 Kahuku 41, McKinley 7
At Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium
Kahuku (3-0, 3-0) 14 13 14 0 — 41
McKinley (0-3, 0-3) 0 0 7 0 — 7
Kah—Kesi Ah-Hoy 41 run (Gabriel Pinheiro-Alves kick)
Kah—Likio Vea 10 pass from Tuli Wily-Matagi (Pinheiro-Alves kick)
Kah—Alohi Gillman 45 punt return (kick failed)
Kah— Ah-Hoy 18 run (Jurrell Kai kick)
Kah—Ah-Hoy 12 run (Kai kick)
McK—Kaimi Kini 20 pass from Keanu Pratt (Darrin Lafaele kick)
Kah—Chance Maghanoy 15 pass from Wily-Matagi (Pinheiro-Alves kick)
RUSHING—Kahuku: Ah-Hoy 9-115, Lisiate Tovo 4-22, Gillman 1-13, Jrue Williams 3-12, Kingsten Aloua 2-11, Wily-Matagi 3-7, Samuta Avea 1-7, Salanoa-Alo Wily 2-5, Aaron Tapusoa 1-3, Royce Pao 1-1, Pena Fitisemanu 1-1, Noah Magalei 1-0. McKinley: Nino Mitchell 15-20, Micah Kerisiano 7-14, Kaneala Paro-Cambra 6-3, Solomone Lopes-Liutolo 2-2, Christian Letellier 1-1, Lafaele 2-0, team 1-(minus 2), Pratt 2-(minus 14).
PASSING—Kahuku: Wily-Matagi 11-18-0-147, Avea 1-2-0-4. McKinley: Pratt 6-10-0-43, Kerisiano 3-7-1-(minus 5).
RECEIVING—Kahuku: Maghanoy 5-41, Vea 2-32, Alo-Wily 1-25, Ah Hoy 1-20, Gillman 1-17, Williams 1-12, Pao 1-4. McKinley: Kini 2-31, Paro-Cambra 2-(minus 2), Brandon Chan 1-11, Conin Rellin 1-3, Kerisiano 1-0, Malik Kuhia 1-(minus 2), Drake Poti 1-(minus 3).
Junior varsity — Kahuku 41, McKinley 0