There is work to be done, Makoa Freitas said.
In fact, more than once, the first-year head coach at Kahuku pointed out that video tape of Friday’s battle at Waianae will be combed through. Mistakes will be fixed. Freitas wasn’t quite somber after No. 2 Kahuku’s 37-0 win at No. 8 Waianae — the first meeting at Raymond Torii Field since 1975 between two of the most historically-prominent football programs in the OIA — but he was not overly enthused about what he saw.
“It was a good effort. We persevered through some early problems. We’ll have to watch the film. There’s a lot of things we have to work on, I’m sure,” Freitas said, referring to 19 penalties for 160 yards.
Kahuku improved to 2-0 in OIA regular-season play while Waianae, which has the most difficult early-season schedule in the state, dropped to 0-2 (0-3 overall). The return of an experienced, talented offensive line — four of the starters did not play against Leilehua last week — gave Kahuku a big edge on a fairly young Waianae defense. But Freitas expected more.
“There’s some plays we messed up on. All five of our guys have to block,” he said.
Much of Kahuku’s offensive success was drawn up and executed according to where Waianae’s All-State defensive standout Kana‘i Mauga lined up. During the Red Raiders’ second scoring drive, they ran precisely to the opposite side of Mauga, which led to explosive runs of 11, 14 and 34 yards by running back Enoch Nawahine, who scored his second TD on the latter carry.
“Oh yeah, Kana‘i is a great player. He goes full speed all the time. We made sure that we limited his influence on us,” Freitas said.
With Duke Heffernan blasting kickoffs inside the 10-yard line and adding a 28-yard field goal before the half, and Miki Ah You returning a punt 53 yards for a TD, it was advantage Kahuku in special teams, offense and defense. Oh, that defense. Four different Red Raiders were credited with sacks, bringing down a tough playmaker in running back-turned-QB Rico Rosario.
Defensive lineman Samson Kapule-Si‘ilata (6-3, 255), sophomore linebacker Aaron Fonoimoana-Vaomu (5-11, 180), defensive end Samson Reed (6-3, 264) and linebacker Fatu Atuaia (6-0, 225) brought Rosario down.
“We have to fix mistakes and penalties. We’re all excited to start playing, we get over-excited, jumping (over the line of scrimmage,” said Reed, who has eight scholarship offers and committed to Virginia in late June. “We tell our guys to calm down, relax, breathe, read your keys, read the ball and play smart. It’s being disciplined, really.”
Offensively, no surprises in the game playbook by Kahuku. Sol-Jay Maiava was efficient, taking deep shots, enough to keep the Waianae defense honest. He hooked up with Peter John Mataira on a nice 28-yard deep throw for a TD, and his lone interception came when a reserve wide receiver appeared to make the wrong read on a deep pass to the pylon. In all, Kahuku ran the ball 26 times, aired it out 18 times (for a 59-41 run-pass ratio) and turned the ball over just once.
What a robust audience at Waianae saw was a defense that pinned down the Seariders, who finished with 15 yards of total offense. Kahuku’s dominance wasn’t entirely a surprise. With a healthy balance of returning starters on both sides of the ball, the Red Raiders were in constant pursuit of Rosario, the Waianae All-State running back who filled in at quarterback on Friday. Rosario had nowhere to go against a big, fast, disciplined Big Red defense.
“Our defense, we got after the ball. Timed our blitzes really well. We kind of had a hunch (Rosario) would play QB. He throws the ball fairly well,” Freitas said.
“He’s a great runner,” Reed said of Rosario. “We just played the run.”
It looked entirely like the kind of defensive performance turned in by Kahuku during the two seasons that former coach Vavae Tata was in charge. At least, if those yellow flags can be ignored.