Sports to Ponder: This here’s a story about ‘D’

Kahuku's Hirkley Latu reacted after sacking Waianae quarterback Jaren Ulu during the Red Raiders 30-0 win on Saturday at Aloha Stadium. The Red Raiders (8-0) average 2.8 points allowed per game. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Kahuku’s Hirkley Latu reacted after sacking Waianae quarterback Jaren Ulu during the Red Raiders 30-0 win on Saturday at Aloha Stadium. The Red Raiders (8-0) average 2.8 points allowed per game. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Offensive fireworks are the norm in high school and college football these days, but don’t discount defense and what it can do for your team.

Think back to the old days, if you can, about your proverbial daddy’s football team. That’s when runs up the gut were what you did extensively and close games were usually decided by a 2-point conversion or the unsuccessful attempt at such. For every 76-53 rampage where there is all kinds of offensive wizardry in this day and age, way back when there were the 8-6 and 14-12 slogfests. That was the definition of football at the time.

Well, we might not get many of those any more, but no fear and no tear, we still have defense. In the case of one Hawaii high school football team — the Kahuku Red Raiders (8-0) — you might want to have the cheerleaders chime in on their “mighty, mighty defense” chant.

And it is all of that. Some stats to take a gander at:

>> Four shutouts
>> Yielding 2.8 points per game (less than a field goal, on average)
>> Have not been scored on in 11 quarters
>> Have not allowed a rushing touchdown
>> Have not given up more than 7 points in a game

The big-time stoppers at Kahuku are becoming quite well-known in state circles: linebacker Manaia Atuaia, safeties Keala Santiago, Hirkley Latu and Kekaula Kaniho, cornerback Stokes Botelho, defensive end Bradlee Anae, and defensive tackle Samson Reed, to name a bunch.

The Red Raiders host Kapolei (6-3) in an Oahu Interscholastic Association quarterfinal game on Saturday. The two teams met earlier in the season, when Kahuku prevailed 27-7 on the road. This time, the game is on the North Shore, the scene of the Red Raiders’ 9-0 win in last season’s quarterfinals. Talk about defense!


Sure, sure, Kapolei’s offense has been making a name for itself this season, with freshman quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa distributing the ball to many pass-catchers, including two-way standout Ezra Savea, who can also play QB.

But have you looked at what the Hurricans’ defense is doing lately? Here’s some numbers:

>> Giving up 4.8 points per game in their last four games, including a shutout of Castle in the first round of the OIA playoffs
>> Have not allowed a rushing touchdown in those four games
>> Have not allowed a touchdown in nine quarters

Savea has been a playmaker as defensive back as has Jay Amina and Jonathan Liana. Linebackers Omar Mareko and Rocky Savea and lineman Noah Punahou Mahelona are among the potent run-stoppers.


And, now, on to Division II and OIA regular-season champion Radford. Like Kapolei, the Rams have a powerful offense to boot, but it’s defense that they thrive on.

“Defense is our bread and butter and defense wins championships,” Radford head coach Fred Salanoa said after wrapping up the regular-season crown with a 28-7 win at Nanakuli two weeks ago.

This is what the Rams (9-0) have been doing all season on defense (numbers do not include a 2-0 forfeit win over Anunenue):

>> Three shutouts
>> Five touchdowns allowed all season (another TD allowed was against Radford’s offense)
>> Yielding 4.3 points per game
>> Have only allowed one rushing touchdown

Radford’s defensive menaces abound. There’s defensive back Sipa Leafa, pass rusher Thomas Reid (who also excels as a wide receiver), and sack master Dillon Sunday, among others.

The Rams have a rematch against Waialua (5-4), a team they beat 35-0 last Friday, in the semifinals of the OIA D-II playoffs on Saturday at the Aiea High field.

To outside onlookers, Salanoa’s Radford squad is on a collision course with Kapaa (7-0) for the state title. But, alas, that is way too far in the future to really discuss at length. There are plenty of other solid D-II teams across the state in the mix to be able to foretell such a tale. But, the truth is, some people are thinking it.

Nanakuli (7-2), of course, wants to avenge its 28-7 defeat to the Rams that clinched the regular-season championship for Radford — a title that belonged to the Golden Hawks last season.

So, there you have it folks, a little bit of a primer on three teams who put emphasis on the somewhat lost art of defense.


  1. Good Story October 12, 2015 12:38 am

    Before any “Haterz” chime in, I wanna thank Nick Abramo for not getting caught up in all the “Offense” hype. People seem to think that a high scoring offense is the best defense. Thank you for reminding everyone of what we never lose sight of in Red Raider Country…DEFENSE! if you build it, Championships will come.

  2. Better Story October 12, 2015 1:27 am

    Just wanted to put my 2 cents in before anymore delirious KAHUKU ALUMNI chime in…ALL THE STATS YOU GUYS GOT AND SHUT OUT….DONT MEAN NOTHING WHEN THOSE TEAMS WERE NO CHALLENGE TO ANYONE (no offense to those other teams) but this first round just proved that KAHUKU has been chilling on the WEAKER SIDE OF division 1…FACT EVERYTEAM IN THE PLAYOFFS that was from the RED DIVISION LOST by 30 POINTS OR MORE…excluding the kaiser game which still A BLUE DIVISION TEAM WON…which goes to SHOW KAHUKU HAS NO CHALLENGES ON THAT SIDE NOT EVEN WAIANAE…WHO I KNOW WILL LOSE TO KAILUA…so before you red raider alumni come crying on here trying to defend this so called GREAT DEFENSE…take a step back and enjoy playing your guys last game of the season…KAPOLEI WILL WIN AND UPSET YOUR HORRIBLE SECONDARY ALONG WITH MEDIOCRE COACHING STAFF…#THERES#HURRICANE#COMING#THRU#2007#UPSET

  3. Lee Boy October 12, 2015 10:31 am

    Outsatnding article, that’s the reason why I been saying that Kahuku vs Kapolei is going to be closer than people think. Better Story I agreed 100% the only chanlenge the Rebel D got was against Kaplolei back when they were trying to discover themselves. I’m not hating on anyone Atuia is a beast, I’m surprise he doesn’t have more D1 offers and Santiago is the best safety in the state but it’s hard to gage them against that type of competition.

  4. OHHREALLY October 12, 2015 10:37 am

    Well isn’t most of the good teams in the blue from the old oia east division? who dominated that division? same excuses and same results.

  5. GoBigRed October 12, 2015 10:37 am

    @Better Story. GOOOOOD STORY!! HAHAHAHAAA!! I seem to remember that Kapolei was one of the teams we BULLDOZED earlier THIS season. I’ll be shocked if they score more than 10 points and we score less than 30. Waianae’s run D is better than Kapolei’s. So tell da Hurricane’s DC to go ahead and put ELEVEN IN DA BOX…so we can run all over the ENTIRE D.

    Freshman QB? Vs. D1 talent all over our D? With an extra week’s rest and time to prep?? Christmas is coming early for us this year! In less than a week! LMFAO! Just sit on da sideline and pray for a couple FIRST DOWNS. #GBR.

  6. GoBigRed October 12, 2015 10:38 am

    My only question is why isn’t this game on OC16 instead of Mililani vs Moanalua?? Are u kidding me? That’s gonna be a sleeper.

  7. Homegrown October 12, 2015 10:43 am

    Kahuku can only control what they can control, and that is their performance on the field. They have no control over who they play. All they do is prepare for whoever their matchup is for the week and go out and perform. I think this year, coach Tata and his defensive staff has done an outstanding job in the preparation part. Add that to the athletes they have, and they deserve all the recognition they’ve reciever.

    In response to the Kapolei fan on here calling our secondary horrible, just wait and see what happens Saturday night. Stokes Bothelo easily top 3 corner in the state. Keala Santiago #1 safety in the state. Kekaula Kaniho easily top 5 underclassman DB in state. Versatile Sauvao at strong safety. Add to that the pass rush upfront from Vimahi, Anae, Tongi, Kanonagataa, and speed off the edge from Hirlley Latu, Tapusoa, with Atuaia and Lefau holding down the middle…. Is that your definition of horrible?

  8. GoBigRed October 12, 2015 10:46 am

    @Lee Boy. Isn’t that the same “logic” (and I use the term loosely) that we could use for Kahiku as well? “Early in the season”…”still finding themselves”…?

    Everybody’s talking about how much better Kapolei is now… What? Did Kahuku get WORSE?? LOL!! Seems like ‘Homer Simpson’ logic to me.

    All these haters just HOPING we stumble. Especially those whose teams are out or soon to be out of the picture entirely (looking right at St Louis). Just sit back and enjoy the show…cuz das what it’s gonna a be this weeken…a red raider highlight reel. #GBR

  9. Dont Explain Your Life October 12, 2015 11:31 am

    @GopigRed lol so funny you call 4 field goals and 1 touchdown BULLDOZE…HAH u red raiders NEED TO WAKE UP BRUH…your kicker scored most of your points the first meeting against kapolei…we will see just how great this BLOKES POTATO IS and OVERATED LATU IS and your NO NAMER SAFETIES AND SANTIAGO really can guard against the Wideouts from the blue division don’t look towards St.louis because you about to get blanked by Kapolei or Mililani and not even make states BOY…

  10. Dont Explain Your Life October 12, 2015 11:37 am

    Oh and Homegrown(TANOAI REED) chill out uce because you just a MILILANI hater who wasn’t even GOOD IN FOOTBALL ANYWAYS so keep your EXAGGREATED NAMES FOR THIS HORRIBLE SECONDARY AND D-line who is overrated…THE BEST D YEAH RIGHT

  11. Lee Boy October 12, 2015 11:48 am

    @Go Big Red- I’m not saying that your team got worse, but Kapolei got a lot better since they play you. You guys didn’t bulldozed them perse they beat themselves. I’m not saying that you will lose this game but it will be closer than what you think. Kapolei needs a running game inorder to pull an upset. Your time will come my friend the Trojans will make you humble.

  12. Good Story October 12, 2015 12:31 pm

    @ Better Story
    Seeing that you were up pretty late for your comments…I look forward to your post game analysis. I will be ready with my tissue as you explain your life…

  13. ManoaRainbow October 12, 2015 12:52 pm

    The top 3 offenses cant be shut down (St. Louis, Mililani and Punahou). If anyone can slow them down it would be Kahuku’s defense. Fortunately for Kahuku this year they do have an offense that cant be stopped either, might not be flashy but seems to be powerful.

    Defense and a slow paced offense is boring and only Kahuku fans enjoy watching it, they been getting criticism for decades about their lack of offensive fireworks and when they do win the critics say they win by luck. The only way to silence the critics is to win it all.

  14. RRFLbaby October 12, 2015 12:53 pm

    Pretty much same sad song every year, Big Red in s weak division. Like others pointed out, under the old format, East would be dominating this year….the fact is, the kids can only play who is put in front of them. But you can not be a football fan and not realize how good that D is, regardless of the competition. Waianae isnt a team of chihuahuas. ‘Canes have definitely gotten better, no doubt….honestly, if Big Red don’t come prepared, i wouldn’t doubt an upset. With that being said, I expect Big Red to grab control of the game (whether it be right away or even if it takes well into the 2nd half) and get that W. Maybe nxt year Canes fans.

  15. Dont Explain Your Life October 12, 2015 1:38 pm

    Hey Good story…I will also be up waiting for your post game analysis and my tissue for your kahuku issues…and like you said same excuses same song EXACTLY KAHUKU HAS GOOD DEFENSE AND STILL GOING LOSE JUST LIKE LAST YEAR

  16. GoBigRed October 12, 2015 1:42 pm

    @Lee Boy. What?… Pau supporting your crusaders cuz u know dey no can beat Punahou? So now you jumping on Trojans bandwagon?? Cmon…we let you jump on da RR4L bandwagon. No worry we not going tease you for your lack of allegiance. We get plenny room for you.



  17. Insideoutsidein October 12, 2015 2:36 pm

    @better story hahahahaha !! You make me laugh. haahahaha!! Ho.. Okay……. Hahahaha!!!

  18. TGOD October 12, 2015 2:48 pm

    Nice article on Defense for a change, seems like every weekend it’s been a few teams scoring 50+ points. Kahuku no doubt has a great D with talented players on all levels regardless of who they’ve played. Kapolei has improved their defense and offense since the last meeting with Kahuku. And Radford’s D will probably get them a D2 championship this year.
    Excited to see what a balanced multi-threat offense can do against Kahuku’s D, and if they were to fall behind, excited to see what the Kahuku Offense will do in the passing game.
    It’s “Go Trojans” for me, but without Kenzie it’s a whole different game. Kahuku to me is now the favorite in the OIA and I hope Mililani meets them in the championship.

  19. Kahuku 82 October 12, 2015 2:57 pm

    Better Story AKA Dr. Suess! Relax braddah! We heard that story many times before! We always get the weak schedule! Good luck to your canes this weekend!

  20. Good Story October 12, 2015 3:30 pm

    @ Don’t Explain Your Life
    The score was 27-7…Kapolei finally scored in the 4th quarter. Anyways, can you please tell me how 4 field goals and a touchdown would equal 27 pts. Just wondering if I’m debating a 3rd grader. Sorry 3rd graders everywhere.

  21. 88 October 12, 2015 3:48 pm

    Why you guys even bother explaining yourselves to Lee’s boy and Better story…. Everyone with eyes that work knows what BigReds D is going to do this Saturday. Nothing has changed since their first meeting. Our kids like to hit and their kids don’t like to get hit. Thats the bottom line really. Kapolei’s QB, RB and WR are good but they don’t like to get hit. The pass happy offense works until they get hit. After that arms get shorter and ears start hearing foot steps. Anybody who watched the 1st meeting between these 2 teams saw that.

  22. red x October 12, 2015 4:22 pm

    @ better story just because you guys man handled castle the smallest team in D1and now you think they going win. Did you see how fast and physical Kahuku defense is. No worries you will see it saturday

  23. redraider4life October 12, 2015 4:33 pm

    Unreal how ignorant people will make fun of the high school kids. Get a life losers. Let the kids do what they do and just tease each other. Unbelievable

  24. RRFLbaby October 12, 2015 4:34 pm

    Too funny story guy. You and a bunch of other people don’t think has improved as well since the first game? This years version of Big Red is way different from last years cause of one major reason….the Offensive system is much more cohesive and focused. Sorry, like i said before, the only way Kahuku loses is not being prepared(including penalties). Kahuku is Solid in all 3 phases of the game. RRFL

  25. hiro October 12, 2015 5:37 pm

    Defense wins championships….. nuff sed!

  26. Homegrown October 12, 2015 5:39 pm

    Lol @ thinking I’m Tanoai Reed. I wish that was the case for the bank account access haha. This board is getting out of hand. Just relax and tune in Saturday night to see how the people that actually matter(the YM playing) settle it on the field. Having said that, I don’t see Kahuku losing.

  27. 88 October 12, 2015 5:55 pm

    @DontExplainURlife;I would love to see you tell Tanoai Reed that to his face. Too bad you just a keyboard gangster.

  28. rr4l October 12, 2015 6:03 pm

    Don’t Explain Your Life : Seriously, what’s up with you? These are high school athletes you are referring to. & FYI, we lost last year cause the refs were BULUSEKI!! (AS ALWAYS). CALLING every little damn thing on us. You goin talk yo ISH about us, just SHADDUP and JAM YOU HATER!!

  29. "UNITY=STRENGHT" October 12, 2015 6:09 pm

    I believe that Mililani has another one under there belt this year thats “IF” mckenzie is healthy and ready to play if not Kahuku takes the Championship this year and this is why. Mililani offense can be slowed but not stopped there going get into the end zone like it or not and keep scoring until the wheels fall off. Now Kahuku Big Red its all pride they like to run straight at you and wear you down some passess here and there if need be to tickle the feet and get into the end zone. Now the same amount of time that Kahuku needed to score Mililani can score three times with the same amount of time and there lies irony of it all. Kahuku will need to score and score quickly to keep up with mililani if not Kahuku loses not because of what they do best but the amount of time it takes to score. Thats how liberty beat the Trogans not because they scored on them it is because they out scored them. So if Kahuku can try to score at least three touch downs in a quarter and thats min they will have a good shot. But I could be wrong and with that being said I hope the best to all the teams in Oia the playoffs!!!

  30. LBI October 12, 2015 6:46 pm

    Don’t wanna get caught up with all the childish bickering going on. Wishing all the teams good luck this weekend as you play for your alma mater. Play hard and injury free young men, I’m sure you have made everyone in your community proud.

    Bring the BOOM…Go Big Red!!

  31. Manly October 12, 2015 7:12 pm

    Defense is Kahuku. Latu looks like a young Hauoli Kikaha. Tata is a defensive mind. He must have gloated when he was handed a locker room of studs. I really don’t think Kapolei will be able to pass on Kahuku. Or run. Oh also you play at Kahuku Field in October, rain,mud and wind will play havoc on passes. I believe a caravan of blockers for a sturdy sure handed RB like Ah Hoy will yield ample points for a win.

  32. Manly October 12, 2015 7:28 pm

    @UNITY=STRENGHT….. If there was a Kahuku vs.Mililani game, it would be a time consuming drive executed by Kahuku. Kahuku doesn’t have to score three touchdowns a quarter to keep up with Mililani. That’s why this article is about defense. Kahuku had the best defense last year, they were just hurting on offense. A few defensive stops sacks by Kahuku, special teams play and kicking game can beat any team. Last years 53-45 final game just showed how much those teams didn’t work on defense. The Mililani Liberty only tells me either team don’t play defense.

  33. Anykine_guy October 12, 2015 7:45 pm

    Defense wins championships. A defense that attacks and gets turnovers and scores points is BEAST. ANY team with a defense like that makes it easier on their offense. Just sayin……

  34. SmashMouf October 12, 2015 8:21 pm

    Hey @dontexplainyourlife, why I gotta see my name on your post? That wasn’t me posting as @Homegrown, but since you wanna talk smack about me and I’m letting you know that his is me now, why don’t you tell me who you are? Probably never played ball in your life. And if you have then I gladly invite you to get in your 3 point stance in front of me any day boy! Shut your mouth of put your mouth piece in!!

  35. "UNITY=STRENGHT" October 12, 2015 8:30 pm

    @Manly we will just have to wait and see if and when these two teams meet again there is alot of variables to consider but I give you the benefit of the doubt I would also say that history doesnt lie and that the Red Raiders go have benefited a few more touch downs early in the season to get a win even if that was a scrimmage.

  36. Good Story October 12, 2015 8:39 pm

    Oh snap…now you’ve done it @DEYL. Neva mine tissue, i think you need toilet pepah. Go get ’em 6′ 4″ 240.


  37. Better Story October 12, 2015 9:17 pm

    hahahahhahaha, all you guys talk about is Mililani’s Nevada lost. Your coaching staff are running the same Liberty Plays. Why do you thing your coaches are doing this, hahaha let me guess they know you will face the Mill Ville for the OIA championship. Even if you win the OIA there will be no KOA Head for you. Either Punahou or St. Louis will beat the pants of you.

  38. A'ole October 12, 2015 10:10 pm

    We have lot of psychics, a lot of dreamers, and most definitely a lot of immatures on this feed. How old is everyone? Go ahead talk the trash build up the hype, but remember these are high school kids and don’t deserve to be singled out in any way. Nobody wish bad things for you or kids if you have any so don’t do it back. We all people of Hawaii that need to get a long even with all this high school rivalry stuff. Good to have fun but not to make nasty to one another. I’m a proud RED RAIDER ALUMNI lived an played football in high school and college, had total of 9 roommates from the islands. 2 from lahaina, 2 from king k, 3 from st louis, 1 from mililani, n 1 from damien. You don’t understand till you away from home and all you get is each other in this big world. Keep it clean y’all. God bless!!!!

  39. Hauula93 October 12, 2015 10:12 pm

    Good luck red raiders…. By the way, I see 2 Red Raiders representing in the NFL…AND THEY PLAY DEFENSE….NUFF SAID… PLAY YOUR BEST BOYS, CUZ ONE DAY THAT WILL BE YOU…1 DEFENSE IN THE STATE….

  40. rr4l October 12, 2015 11:13 pm

    Dang! @Don’texplainyourlife do you really not like Tanoai that badly?? You wish you had his money lmao Malo poor sport

  41. ManoaRainbow October 12, 2015 11:37 pm

    The only problem Im seeing with Kahukus Offense is that they are fumbling the ball at least 4 times a game. That is 4 turnovers that will kill them if they get into a scoring battle with Mililani. Just like a passing team throwing interceptions, a running team needs to worry about fumbles and Kahuku does not have that Aofaga Wily type player this year that is sure handed.

    That is why the games are played on the field and not on the internet.

    BTW Kahukus best DLineman is no longer on the team so although the 2nd stringers are capable the D is not the same.

  42. Amazing... October 12, 2015 11:46 pm

    Just play baby! Let ALL the haters Hate, that’s all it is! After Kahuku wins, come back on this thread and read all the sorry kapolei stories hahahaha

  43. TrueStory October 12, 2015 11:52 pm

    Kapolei will Beat Kahuku at Home and then Come here and read the sorry Kahuku comments lmao!!!

    True Story: Kahuku Coaching Staff = D U I’s hahahahaha…True Story! Most coaches get Felonies…and Long Rap Sheets smh!!! Good Job Kahuku Admin Hiring Staff…Hire all the Saint Louis Druggies….including your OC John Hao…what a Joke we had em at Kapolei and now Kahuku is facing the same BS we had especially with the QBs…Losers!!!

    Hurricane in Kahuku on Saturday!


  44. Fan96701 October 13, 2015 12:01 am

    When Kapolei Stops Kesi and the Run game, then we will win the game for sure! Kesi can’t pass he’s not a real QB, then the other back ups materangi, renaud, newman just like John Hao no can pass!!! lol!!! KapCity baby!!!

  45. menehunelovah69 October 13, 2015 4:52 am

    crack up u guys already overlooking our team! Brah us menehunes gonna bring it and whoop mililanis okoles! cuz y? cuz i said so!!!!!!

  46. Lee Boy October 13, 2015 7:12 am

    I’m starting to wonder how old this crowd really is. All I said was that kahuku was going to win but the game will be much closer than people think and I get smart comments. If you read my post, I gave your D credit but you want to come out here and act childish. It’s not the same old story your opponents are weak and to be truthful it’s hard to gauge your defense against that kind of opponents. I dont know everything and I’m no expert but I played this game long enough and seen too many games to know what I’m talking about. Look at all my post, at no point have I insulted or talk smack about a team or the kids. I just state the obvious. I like coming in this forum to share knowledge with others and talk about football. If you disagree then make an educated comment. We don’t have to like each other but be respectful to each other like braddah A’ole said.

  47. Insideoutsidein October 13, 2015 7:27 am

    @truestory. hahaaaaaaa…. We have another comedian and this blog…haaahahaaa…..ho…okay….haahahhhhhahhaaaaaa!.

  48. Insideoutsidein October 13, 2015 7:43 am

    @truestory. Let me tell u this true story. No matter WHO coaches Kahuku football, Kahuku will always be state contenders…..been there done that and keep it going….Here’s another true story. Hernandez is a well respected coach who I respect as well, was the only coach for awhile to beat Kahuku at their home field 14-7 back in 2007. However….. with no disrespect to coach Hernandez,…..that is all he showed. I think you get my drift pal.

  49. ABC's October 13, 2015 8:47 am


  50. Toomeke October 13, 2015 9:16 am

    @Lee Boy. Alluvasudden u like be da ‘adult’. Let’s go look at your other posts shall we? Lol. That’s what I thought. Or maybe the thought that St Louis will be sitting on da couch watching Punahou rep da ILH is so sobering dat unocanhando.

    Anyways. Just happy it’s playoffs. Everybody (including me) can talk all da trash they want and doesn’t matter. Can’t wait to watch da game. Hoping its a good one but I think it’ll be lopsided. All we can do is watch and cheer! #RR4L

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