FIRST IN A SERIES
When you’re already one of the two most renowned high school football programs in the state, there just simply isn’t much room to get better.
Yet, that’s one thing that’s on Miki Ah You‘s mind. The Kahuku linebacker walks into the 2018 season aiming for the defensive unit he captains to be the best in school history.
That’s really something, if it happens. In 2016, under coach Vavae Tata, Kahuku’s defense held 12 Hawaii opponents to an average of 6.1 points per game and posted six shutouts.
“I’ve been playing varsity the past three years and each time, for each defense, I want it to be the best defense Kahuku ever had,” Ah You said Thursday by phone. “I’ve grown up in Kahuku, playing my whole life here with all of these guys and I’m confident that what we have at Kahuku and the people surrounding the team — you can’t do better than that.”
It didn’t hurt Ah You that he was, in part, nurtured along by his grandfather Junior Ah You, who is still remembered in Canada as one of the best CFL players of all time.
“From working with him all the time at the restaurant (Tita’s Grill) and living next to him I’ve learned his mind-set and work ethic is, ‘If you don’t do it 100 percent, don’t do it at all,” Miki said about Junior.
According to new head coach Sterling Carvalho, the younger Ah You — a University of Washington commit — has proven to be a great role model for the Red Raiders.
“Miki is an unquestionable leader on the field,” Carvalho said in a phone interview. “He is in command not just on the defensive side, but he commands the offensive side, the whole team. Scouts who have come here to see him notice that when he speaks and he moves, all eyes are on him. He might even get looks on offense this year. He has good hands, runs great routes. He’s a playmaker. He’s our stud.”
Left tackle Enokk Vimahi, defensive ends Tausili Fiatoa, Tuia Tupuola and quarterback Thorton Alapa are among those who represent the engine of the squad.
“Vimahi, he will anchor the offensive line,” the coach said. “He’s a hard worker. His technique is sound. He doesn’t just try to make himself better, he’s a coach among our players.
“Fiatoa and Tupuola are the bookends. Both have motors, you know. They hustle, fly to the ball and are also physical specimens. Those two and Miki are our identity on defense. They don’t give up until they hear the whistle.
“Losing Sol-Jay Maiava (transferred to the mainland), the spotlight is going to be on Thor (Thorton Alapa) at quarterback. He’s going to surprise a lot of people and will be a player to watch. He is a field general and he’s stepping up. He hasn’t missed a practice or an offseason workout. He’s taking it upon himself to be better and get our offense to where it wants to go.”
One mantra will be to get the job done this year. “Finish” is the world Carvalho used.
“When our seniors were freshman they were (OIA) JV champions, but they’ve been (state) runner-up the last two (varsity) years,” he said. “We’ve been to the dance. What it comes down to is paying attention to detail. Staying in bounds when you’re supposed to stay in bounds. Making sure we don’t give yards away with penalties. That’s how we’re going to finish. We’re not leaving anything to chance. Other teams are big and strong just like us, so it comes down to the little details.”
A year ago, under interim coach Makoa Freitas, Kahuku went 11-2, won the OIA championship and advanced to a 31-28 state Open Division final loss to Saint Louis.
The Red Raiders open the season Aug. 4 at home against Konawaena, the Division II state runner-up last season. On Aug. 11, Kahuku hosts Punahou for its first game in the new OIA-ILH alliance.
Next in series: Leilehua Mules.
Next in series: Leilehua Mules