Kahuku wins the coin toss and elects to receive.
Downpour. It starts to rain heavy as Kahuku’s offense takes the field after Keala Santiago returns the kickoff 20 yards to the KAH 30. Big Red fumbles on a bad, low snap to the QB (Kesi Ah-Hoy) and LEI linebacker Devin Griffiths recovers at the KAH 43. A Kahuku personal foul helps the Mules march to the end zone. QB Kona Andres to WR/DB Charles Watson on a 16-yard touchdown play.
Rain is a big factor. Happened on the low snap by Kahuku and now on the PAT for LEI, with the holder unable to grip the ball. PAT failed. LEI 6, KAH 0, 8:48.
Red Raiders cash in on their second series. Very basic. Almost entirely with Sefa Ameperosa carrying the ball, grinding downfield. Harmon Brown does the honors, a 12-yard carry on the right side to the goal line. Kekoa Sasaoka blasts the PAT into the Wahiawa forest. KAH 7, LEI 6, 3:31. Textbook Kahuku football.
Quick change. After Sasaoka touchbacks the kickoff into a puddle 10 feet behind the end zone, Andres overthrows his teammate and is picked off by Kahuku safety Kekaula Kaniho, who returns the ball to the LEI 19. Three plays later, after Ameperosa does the legwork, LeRod Tongi gets his turn and scores on a 6-yard blast to the left. KAH 14, LEI 6, 2:06.
The Mules’ big home crowd is absolutely silent right now.
LEI goes three and out. Tried to run on first down, lost 2 yards. Kahuku’s front seven dominating, though the Mules get a nice 7-yard completion on third down, but they’re short. The punt is shanked, but they get a kind bounce. KAH takes over at the LEI 45. Driving again as the quarter ends. Ameperosa already has 91 yards.
He keeps pounding away behind his massive O-line. Then its Tongi like a cannon ball up the gut for a 17-yard TD run. PAT run fails after the holder decided to make a run for it to the pylon and got stopped. KAH 20, LEI 6, 11:37
Mules with their best drive so far, but Andres gets hurt while throwing on the run. Turnover on downs at the Kahuku 23.
LEI defense rises up and stops Kahuku for the first time tonight. Kahuku punts.
A 37-yard punt return by Kahuku’s Keala Santiago sets up the next score. Kesi Ah-Hoy scores on a 3-yard keeper up the middle. KAH 27, LEI 6, 2:44.
That was kind of eerie in a nice way. When Kahuku scored I didn’t hear a single cheer from the Red Raiders’ side of the field. Possibly because this place was somber after another LEI injury during the play before. Now, on the first play from scrimmage after another Sasaoka touchback, another Mule is down. Looks like it’s Watson, who I think is one of the best defensive backs in the state. Holding his hand or wrist.
The half ends with Kahuku at midfield after yet another personal foul call, and this one came with an ejection. (I’ll get confirmation on the player’s name later.) Would be interesting to see Kahuku use a rugby play in that situation, when most teams will try a Hail Mary.
No surprising stats, really. Kahuku’s ground attack is awesome, led by Ameperosa’s 102 yards on 14 carries. The only minor minus for him is no TDs so far.
And Kahuku has nine penalties for 110 yards.
Stokes Botelho picks off a pass and goes 38 yards to paydirt for a pick-6. KAH 34, LEI 6, 11:23.
It’s Kahuku’s third pick of the night. The rain has ceased and now it’s just cool and crisp. Lucky you live Wahiawa, Mules fans.
Andres being aggressive and getting some nice completions, including a couple of darts to Watson, who has returned. But another throw to the left is picked off. This one is by LB Pesa Lefau near the sideline. That’s four INTs for Kahuku’s defense. They would make one heckuva fantasy defense.
Kaniho’s second pick of the game — Kahuku’s fifth — sets up the next TD. Tongi rumbles to the left pylon on fourth and 1 for a 6-yard score. It’s Tongi’s third TD of the game. KAH 41, LEI 6, 5:54.
That makes it a 35-point margin, which means the clock will be on running time after the kickoff.
Kahuku throws the ball just four times all night, running it 51 times for 249 yards. Ameperosa finished with 115 yards on 21 carries, most of it in the first quarter. Both Ameperosa and Tongi showed notable explosiveness out of the backfield. Say what you want, lovers of the forward pass. There’s just something special about a team that dares you to line up and stop their smashmouth game.
Kickoff is 23 minutes away here at Hugh Yoshida Stadium. Perfect conditions: slight breeze, sun has set over the Waianae Mountain Range, and humidity is not a factor. Thank God.
The Leilehua Mules are battling for the best seed possible come playoff time. At 2-2 in the OIA Red, they could finish strong and get a good seeding. Kahuku (4-0 in league play) is in position to run the table.
The long history of ROIA football, and well into the years of the merged OIA (country and city schools) is chock full of Kahuku and Leilehua lore. Former coach and athletic director Richard Townsend recalls when Leilehua had 3,000 students thanks to a district boundary that stretched all the way to Waipio — before Mililani High School opened.
Leilehua hasn’t beat Kahuku since 2008, a string of six straight losses. Here is a link to the glory days: http://archives.starbulletin.com/content/20081129_Mules_not_finished_yet
They haven’t beat Kahuku in Wahiawa since 1979.