It’s No. 4 Kahuku (7-0, 6-0) against No. 6 Waianae (6-1, 6-0) in a showdown for first place in the OIA Red. Both teams have already sealed first-round byes in the OIA Division I playoffs.
Huuuge break for Waianae, recovering what was an pouchy (PK Tate Ebel with the recovery), but quick moving on-side kick. Brilliant. But then after getting the ball in its territory, they run, run, run and punt. I was hoping they’d go for a quick shot deep on the sudden change. Probably watched too many Oakland Raiders and June Jones-coached UH games.
Kahuku near midfield with fourth and 2. Looks like they’ll go for it. No, time out. Punt team.
Aside from a couple of Wildcat formation runs — no WRs, double (or triple?) tight ends, Kahuku punts. This is looking like it’s straight outta 1973. After seeing a bunch of 60-36 and 51-36 games all season, this just might be a pitchers’ duel.
Now, it’s a HUGE break for Kahuku as the punt snap for Waianae goes high and the punter is stopped trying to run for it.
Now another major break. Kahuku lines up in that jumbo set with a fullback and tailback and Kesi Ah-Hoy following some elephants up front for a big gain. Then he runs again and is just inches from the end zone after a nice spin move when he fumbles. Waianae LB Francis Mailo recovers. Dodged that bullet.
Another Waianae punt, and Kahuku drives on a short field to paydirt. Ah-Hoy breaks his up-the-gut run to the left pylon and scores easily from 12 yards out. It’s simplicity at its finest. Two backs with Ah-Hoy, and a big TE (H-Back?) comes into motion right behind the right guard. That’s a lot of tonnage moving forward and Ah-Hoy is expertly finding his creases, then cutting back amidst the traffic. Waianae’s defense doesn’t really have a way to slow this right now. Rhino Alert. Red Rhinos. KAH 7, WAIN 0, :19.
Waianae is pinned inside its 10 when Kahuku is called for a personal foul at the end of the first quarter. Breathing room. Should note that there’s a pretty good Kahuku crowd here, and a lot of folks from Waianae.
Waianae picks up a little momentum with a run for first down at the 30, but there’s no fooling Hirkley Latu, who racks up his second sack. Ulu’s play-action rollout had no chance. Red Raiders bottle up a third-down screen pass, but get whistled for another personal foul. No automatic first down, so it’s fourth and 6. Punt team on.
No sign of RB Sefa Ameperosa on the field for Kahuku. He was cleared to play, from what I understand, but maybe he’s in emergency-RB mode.
Big Red utilizing other guys in the wildcat QB role: RB Ted Kenese (6-0, 195) and RB Harmon Brown (5-11, 185). Maybe in response to Ah-Hoy’s earlier fumble or he’s just taking a breather. You know who would probably love doing this? Yeah, Vavae Malepeai.
OK I take that back. Ah-Hoy re-enters and promptly scoots around left end for a 22-yard TD. Untouched. Gotta give Coach Vavae Tata a lot of credit for not only reverting Kahuku back to its smashmouth success and tradition, but for going ONE STEP BEYOND with this zero-WR, Jumbo Red Rhino (my description) offense. It works and works and works and Waianae hasn’t been pushed around like this in ages. KAH 14, WAIN 0, 5:14.
Waianae self-destructing with procedure penalties, and then the shotgun snap goes through Ulu’s hands and into the end zone. Ulu tries to control the ball, but he’s hit and the ball ricochets out of the back of the end zone. SAFETY. KAH 16, WAIN 0, 4:56.
On the free kick from its 20, WAIN tries a squib kick that an up man returns to the WAIN 33-yard line.
Here’s what I wrote in Thursday’s preview:
Though the series has been dominated by Kahuku, which has won the last 13 meetings, most of those games have been decided by a touchdown or less. Waianae’s last win over Kahuku was on Sept. 22, 2000.
Ah-Hoy keeps left for about 5 yards, then actually stops and “passes” the pitch to his trailing running back (think it was Brown), who picks up about 6 more yards. I love option football, but that was unique. Big Red enters the red zone, but Ah-Hoy tries a gap up the middle and is met big time by ol’ No. 42, Mailo. That gets the Searider crowd excited.
Waianae has a chance to stop Kahuku on third and 6, but Ah-Hoy goes up the middle for 8 yards and a first down to the 7. Ah-Hoy follows linemen and is brought down at the 1. Ah-Hoy scores up the gut from the 1. This is basically testosterone vs. testosterone, rhinos and elephants stampeding through the grasslands, and nobody, not even Waianae, can stop them. KAH 23, WAIN 0, 1:22
Seariders catching no breaks from Kahuku PK Kekoa Sasaoka, who blasts another kickoff beyond the goal line for a touchback. They seem content to run out the clock going into halftime. They go into victory formation, then unload a bomb down the left sideline. Pass is incomplete, but Kahuku flagged for pass interference. Waianae gets one more play with :00 on the clock, but Kahuku brings three pass rushers off the right edge and Ulu doesn’t have a chance. DT Ezra Tupuola (6-2, 290) brings Ulu down, gets hugged by a teammate and continues on running into the locker room.
Kahuku has not attempted a single pass, which I kind of wonder — is Tata’s idea of a perfect half for this particular Kahuku team? Would not be surprised. Kind of the invert of a June Jones “perfect game”, throwing on every offensive play.
Another Sasaoka touchback to start the second half. Continuing on that thought. Kapolei was the only team to limit Kahuku to less than 30 points, and the Hurricanes tend to throw a LOT. Short and intermediate stuff in ball-control fashion.
Would this be an opportunity for Waianae to test out its passing game out of the gun? Throw more on first down? Maybe, but Coach Walter Young is sticking to his guns. Run, run, sack. Boy, that was four Red Raiders on Ulu simultaneously. Ouch. Punt.
A pretty good coach told me recently that you do what you do well. Not a great idea to change things just for the playoffs. And this is a coach who operates one of the most wide-open offenses in the state.
Here we go: second and 8 near midfield and Ah-Hoy throws his first pass, a completion for about 12 yards into Waianae territory. Right off their Jumbo Wildcat set. He took two steps left like he was going to run, then zipped a pass to a tight end. Or a WR lined up like a TE. Sneaky sneaky, Kahuku.
The stampede continues. Ah-Hoy runs right, goes 5 yards before he’s touched, picks up 15 yards. Then Waianae ends up with the ball. Then it’s ruled that Ah-Hoy was down first. Boo birdies.
Kahuku isn’t just smashing and wreaking havoc. They’re in long huddles, the anti-Mililani (the Trojans’ hurry-up pace on Friday night was crazy fast), chewing up chunks of clock. Giving their defense more time to freshen up, charge the batteries and play more stellar football. The Tata blueprint is going quite well.
The drive ends with a 7-yard toss from Ah-Hoy to Noah Magalei (6-2, 290). The O-linemen go nuts and celebrate a bit more than usual with the guy holding the pigskin in the end zone. He’s practically brethren to the O-line, being a TE/DE. KAH 30, WAIN 0, 5:46.
And there goes another Sasaoka rocket into the end zone. This guy is all about boomers in this stadium. There’s a video somewhere on YouTube of him in eighth grade (four years ago) cranking up 60-yard field goals off a tee. Or maybe it was 50-yarders. I forget. By next year, I’ll remember them as 70-yarders. Go look when you want to be wowed.
Waianae run, run, pass. Third and 5 and Ulu again has no time. LeRod Tongi, the bruiser at FB and LB, brings the heat. It’s almost unfair.
Punt. Waianae coverage teams doing a nice job keeping dangerous Keala Santiago under wraps. But it’s Kahuku ball. Again. At its 43. Short field. Again.
Remember the 1970s, maybe even the ’80s, when a Waianae or Kahuku box score would consistently have QB passing statistics that went something like “3-5-0-71” or “5-6-0-101”. That was very much a Waianae wishbone QB line. Receivers would get maybe two targets all game, but average something crazy like 29 yards per catch.
Well, Tata is proving that you don’t really need a “quarterback-quarterback” or wide receivers to win and win big. It works and I don’t blame anybody who sticks with something that works this well. Extremely well.
Ooh, that was tricky. Big back came in motion from the left, then received a direct snap. Flag for motion or something, though. Hey, Kanese tries a pass on third-and-14. Pass is there, maybe a bit low, and the receiver can’t make the catch. You know it’s smashmouth football when a guy wearing uniform No. 33 throwing a football feels exotic and risky.
Fumble by Brown on a positive gain, recovered by Waianae DB Dayten Weber at the Kahuku 21. Less than 9 minutes to go.
Kickoff will be somewhere around 8:30, 25 minutes after the conclusion of the Farrington-Campbell game. It’s windy here at Aloha Stadium tonight.
I spent the first game up in the red/yellow level of the makai end zone in 20-30 mph winds by choice. That angle for video is always awesome. Seemed just a tiny bit more interesting back when June Jones was coaching and that end zone video at Na Koa luncheons were loaded with Timmy Chang run-and-shoot footage. Miss those days.
Now I’m in the press box, where we are shielded from the wind, the wi-fi works better and there’s free steak and lobster. Just kidding. No steak and lobster. But pizza slices at the snack bar are going for $4.50 I think.
A part of me will always dream of the day when Costco opens theaters and football stadiums with $1.50 Polish dogs with soda, and $2 slices. Of course, it would make no sense for them to do this. I just wish I had a Costco hot dog and pizza and that turkey wrap thing right now. Pupule needs dinner.