There’s a gigantic difference between the Nos. 4 and 5 high school football teams in Hawaii.
Kahuku proved that again Saturday night by dismantling visiting Campbell 46-0 on the rainy North Shore. Earlier in the season, the Red Raiders (7-3) dropped the Sabers 35-7.
Now, Kahuku has a chance to show that there’s little or no gap between the Nos. 4 and 3 teams. That means the Red Raiders are out to turn the tables on third-ranked Mililani (8-3) next Saturday at Aloha Stadium in the OIA Open Division championship game.
In the teams’ regular-season meeting, the Trojans rolled 32-0.
Is Kahuku a much different team now? The Red Raiders certainly look it, with their defense dictating terms on opponents.
They did just that on Saturday, with three fumble recoveries and four interceptions of Campbell quarterback Blaine Hipa, including two by Mana Fonoimoana-Vaomu — one in which he returned 62 yards for a touchdown.
If Kahuku has what it takes to get by Mililani and then through the first round of states, there could be those ILH rivals — either No. 1 Saint Louis (9-0) or No. 2 Punahou (9-1) — waiting.
“We just have to be ready,” Red Raiders coach Sterling Carvalho said after he was asked about the clash against the Trojans. “Mililani is No. 1 in the OIA until proven otherwise. We gotta make sure we gotta knock them off. We gotta play great football because they’re a great squad.”
Fonoimoana-Vaomu also had a 55-yard punt that pinned Campbell deep in its own territory.
“Mana is great athlete,” teammate Zion Ah You said. “He can play quarterback, he can punt the ball, he can play DB. He’s small (5 feet 10, 182 pounds), so people underestimate him. But he’s a (big) dog.”
Despite nursing a sore foot, Ah You had a whale of a game as well, with a tackle for loss, an interception that led to a Kahuku touchdown and a 1-yard TD run on his only carry.
“(Against Mililani), we’re going to need to stop the run,” Ah You said. “Malosi Sam is a good running back and they’ve got a good O-line, too. We’ve got to stop the run, defend the pass, shut them out and let our offense do their thing.”
Talking about Fonoimoana-Vaomu and Ah You, Carvalho said, “They are great football players, even better young men off the field. I’m just so happy when great young men play the game well — they’ve got great motors — and are good role models off the field as well.”
A lot of Kahuku’s offense comes from Zealand Matagi, who gained 143 yards on 17 carries and scored twice, including one on a 90-yard run.
Tomasi Pasi, a defensive back, also helped the Red Raiders get points with an interception and 45-yard return that set up a TD. In addition, Kingston Jones‘ fumble recovery made way for Adam Requilman‘s 34-yard field goal.
A strong Kahuku pass rush dropped Hipa for losses six times, including two sacks by Enese Tonga and one by Lokana Enos, who also had a 22-yard TD reception on offense.
“We played aggressive defense and got off the ball,” Ah You said. “They (the referees) caught us a couple of times being too aggressive (before the snap) and called offsides. We just gotta keep playing aggressive.”
On special teams, Pasi also set up a score with a 65-yard kick return.
For Campbell, Zavier Ceruti caught seven passes for 123 yards and was a shining star who was sorely needed with fellow receiver Titus Mokiao-Atimalala out with a knee injury and running back Jonan Aina-Chaves off to the hospital with a severe reaction from a bee sting right before the game.
The Sabers (5-5) play Farrington (2-8) next week in the OIA third-place game that will decide the OIA’s last of three berths into the Open Division state tournament.
“We’re gonna regroup and gotta win out,” Campbell coach Darren Johnson said. “It’s not easy (coming to Kahuku). We should have played better. We thought we were ready.”