In six games against Hawaii oppoents, the Kahuku defense has given up just two touchdowns — one against Aiea and one against Moanalua.
Other than that, it’s all zeros for the four other Hawaii offenses the Red Raiders’ defense has faced, including No. 7 Campbell on Friday night. Although the Sabers did score points on Kahuku in the Red Raiders’ 45-6 victory, it was Campbell’s defense that put the points on the board against Kahuku’s offense.
“Our defense played well and our special teams played well,” Kahuku coach Makoa Freitas said after the second-ranked Red Raiders (7-1, 7-0) wrapped up the Oahu Interscholastic Association Blue title with a 45-6 win on Campbell’s homecoming night. “We basically shut them out. The six points were against our offense.”
It should be noted that the Kahuku defense also gave up two touchdowns to Bingham (South Jordan, Utah) in their only loss of the season, 17-0 in Las Vegas.
On Friday, the Sabers (5-3, 5-2) were shut down cold. With Nalu Emerson, Miki Ah You and Samson Reed leading the way for the Red Raiders, Campbell was held to 27 total yards from scrimmage — including minus-17 rushing.
Kahuku’s offense, meanwhile, didn’t really light it up, but got enough to get by — 248 scrimmage yards that included only 68 on the ground.
Freitas came right out and said afterward that the offense has to perform better if the team is going to make a dent in the playoffs. He was likely still feeling the bitter aftertaste of five turnovers, including four lost fumbles.
Emerson had a gigantic performance with two interception returns for touchdowns and a fumble recovery that led to a touchdown. Ah You and Reed had a sack apiece, and Ah You added an 87-yard kickoff return that led to Duke Heffernan‘s 20-yard field goal.
“Emerson, Ah You and the whole defense played well,” Freitas said. “We played well on special teams, too.”
Heffernan, who also had a 31-yard TD reception from Sol-Jay Maiava, also kicked six extra points.
Maiva went 13-for-20 for 180 yards with one interception.
Campbell coach Darren Johnson, who is a former Kahuku quarterback and assistant coach, will probably take until Sunday to figure out how his Sabers didn’t take more advantage of those turnovers.
Only Pokii Adkins-Kupukaa made Kahuku pay for its mistake. He ran back one of his two fumble recoveries for a 38-yard touchdown that made it 14-6 in the first quarter.
“It’s a new season next week,” Johnson said after the loss. “We gotta worry about next weekend and get this one out of our system.”
The Sabers are the third seed from the OIA Blue and will play the sixth seed from the OIA Red — either Kailua, Castle or Kapolei. That opponent will be determined after Saturday night’s Kailua/Mililani regular-season finale.
Kahuku gets a first-round bye, as do Mililani, Waianae and Leilehua.
“Kahuku’s still the best team in the OIA right?” Johnson asked. “We should have capitalized on their mistakes and we made major mistakes. That’s what film is for. We’ve got to point out what we did wrong and get better and keep building.”
Freitas, too, will be taking a long look at how to shore up the Red Raiders’ offensive mistakes. The whole North Shore community is behind them and will be disappointed if they don’t make it to a third straight appearance in the top-tier state championship game.
“We’ll try again,” he said. “It’s our responsibility as coaches to get them ready to play better. We’ll get better.”