Ton of Fun: Kahuku’s 2,497-Pound Stampede

On the goal line, Kahuku went to this personnel grouping. Updates with Kaisa Fiatoa-Holani's vitals.
On the goal line, Kahuku went to this personnel grouping. Updates with Kaisa Fiatoa-Holani’s vitals.

When the Kahuku Red Raiders go to work on the football field, it’s not just about hard hats and hammers on the defensive side.

This year, it’s been about coach Vavae Tata’s penchant for physical domination at every point of contact. That’s why, when offensive coordinator John Hao installed a new look two games ago against Waianae, it was the culmination of several weeks’ worth of reps, reps and getting the offense to believe.

Now, Kahuku has nine focused blockers on virtually every snap. The only people not blocking within 1-2 seconds are QB Kesi Ah-Hoy and RB Harmon Brown. That leaves the other nine Red Raiders with frontal-force out duties.

The math tells us that there is awesome mass poundage moving forward in a high-acceleration thrust. Most high school offenses, at least in the OIA, have linemen who average in the 225-240 pound range. Five of them.

Some teams don’t utilize a tight end. In those scenarios, it’s basically five O-linemen against six defenders.

In the power formations, Kahuku has seen as many as 10 defenders in the box. Let’s say the weight total of 10 defenders comes out to 2,000 pounds since most defenses keep their smaller players — cornerbacks and safeties, in particular — on the field against Kahuku’s rhinos.

That’s 2,000 pounds, those 10 defenders in the box.

Kahuku’s nine blockers? They add up to 2,442 pounds. There really is no way a standard defense — and many are built to defend against four-wide spread formations — can match up against a moving, unified force of this size, girth and acceleration.

Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez’s defense had a chance. They have size. They have linebackers with strength and physicality.

“We couldn’t fill all the gaps,” he said moments after Kahuku’s 56-10 win.

Kapolei endured 48 snaps by Kahuku that resulted in 431 rushing yards. More than that, it was absorbing those 2,442 pounds of downhill stampeding by the Red Raiders. If not for the mercy rule, the entry of Kahuku’s reserve players and a moderate shift in playcalling (three passes in the fourth quarter might be Kahuku’s season high), it likely would’ve been 50 rushing attempts or more.

What defense can withstand 50 Kahuku carries, taking the brunt of all that tonnage each time?

What we’re witnessing is unique, but similar in a sense to those 1980s power-blasting college teams. The guys who lived in weight rooms and thrived on pure muscle football. Nebraska comes to mind, but even the Cornhuskers still lined up wide receivers.

One twist implemented by Tata, Hao and the staff is using linemen as tight ends. Stennett Alapa began the season as a guard. During the Waianae game (see video below), he wore No. 83, which I didn’t know. That jersey belonged to another player earlier in the year, and that kid was listed as 5-11, 180 pounds.

Alapa is 6-1, 250, and that was noticeable when I went back and edited game video. He stood out because I saw the “new” 83 block two defenders on one of Ah-Hoy’s TD runs against Waianae. Alapa then wore another jersey number (89) in the win over Kapolei. No opposing defensive coordinator can scout, videotape and correctly locate a valuable wild card/pancake maker like Alapa from week to week.

Gamesmanship? Who knows. It’s perfectly legal, as far as I know, and though Kahuku’s offensive approach may seem as simplistic as anything we’ve ever seen, it’s the wrinkles and nuances the staff has included that make it shine a little brighter.

Many teams have utilized unbalanced offensive lines before. Kaimuki put it to work in the early 1980s, making the most of their surplus of 200- to 220-pound blockers. Kahuku has an almost infinite number of big boys who block, and they’re in the 240 to 300 range (see lineup photo at top).

When Ah-Hoy scored on a 1-yard sneak at the end of the first half (see video below), Kahuku had No. 71 lined up as an eligible (probably) tight end on the right. But he’s not the 71 listed on the preseason roster — a wide receiver who is 5-10, 165 pounds. No, 71 is (or was) Kaisa Fiatoa. He’s not listed on our roster, in the roster above, I subbed in Noah Magalei, the DE/TE who caught a TD pass against Waianae. But I’m guessing Fiatoa is around 6-foot and 275 pounds. Easy.

(** UPDATE, 9:35 p.m. – I got his vitals by night time. His full name is Kaisa Fiatoa-Holani, a 6-2, 305-pound junior. The combined weight of the nine blockers in this formation is now 2,497 pounds. Technically, yes, Fiatoa-Holani is a TE. Maybe we’ll see him catch a pass this season.)

Whatever his vitals are, it’s about maximizing the potential of personnel, and from tight end to tight end, plus a steamrolling fullback and full-blasting H-back in front of Ah-Hoy, the math is undeniable.

Edge to the Kahuku offense.

In the roster above, only three of the 11 are seniors. The rest are juniors. There are other linemen and tight ends and fullbacks and running backs, yes.

For now, the Red Raiders are in a sweet spot. Hao’s hybrid offense feels like a jumbo set and looks like a throwback offense. In the islands, that’s as novel as it gets unless some OC installs a wishbone set. Waianae’s wing-T is as close to throwback a it gets. Punahou’s single-wing, installed by Charlie Ane and Kane Ane, lands in that throwback category, too, though it’s been years since the Buffanblu flipped over to the three- and four-wide sets that still thrive now. Like those throwback offenses of yesteryear, Kahuku’s ballcarriers hit the line quickly and they aren’t greedy — unless they run the equivalent of a stretch or sweep play.

One possible cure for any foe — Farrington faces Kahuku on Friday in the OIA Division I semifinals — would be to line up with a jumbo defense. Sit the cornerbacks and other lightweight guys and have 10 strong tacklers with enough girth to handle the constant smashmouth pounding.

This might be too much to ask, even of Farrington. The Governors employ several smaller, but fast defensive backs. They’ve had success on that side of the ball, but they’ve also had issues making tackles at the third level.

Against Kapolei, Kahuku went to the left over and over once it realized that the road to riches was paved there. Farrington may be one of the few teams with enough depth and size in the first two levels to fill every gap with 200-pound plus tacklers. It still might not be enough, but unless the Red Raiders suddenly become fumblers, nothing seems able to stop them.

Coaches don’t usually dwell on the past, but as spectators, we can see in black and white how the Kahuku offense has prospered in Tata’s smashmouth philosophy.

Nine games
Kahuku rushing offense
2,406 yards
267.3 per game
333 attempts
7.2 yards per carry

In this age, an offense that rarely throws the ball may not be very appealing to most young players, even coaches. After all, that’s what the game looked like decades ago. But it clearly works and works well, and winning is a natural high for everyone involved. When it works this well while young players embrace the most fundamental of football skills — blocking – there’s something pure and amazing about that. This offense seems invincible and unstoppable.

For defenses, it’s not so pleasant. Here’s one pupule solution: Stack the box with your four best run-blocking linemen (yes, have them add and share defensive duties), then put your defensive tackles at inside linebacker (each inside gap). Then line up Manti Te‘o as one OLB and Lance Williams as the other OLB, then for good measure, put Chris Paogofie on one edge as a rover/dime back/CB and Nate Jackson on the other side as a rover/CB.

Then, maybe, a defensive unit will have a chance.

The Kahuku Red Raiders begin warmups.
The Kahuku Red Raiders begin warmups.


  1. KonaWarrior October 19, 2015 3:20 pm

    Wasn’t it about three or four years ago that Kahuku had four players that tipped the scales at over 400+lbs. each? That was some serious poundage.

  2. Good Story October 19, 2015 3:28 pm

    What’s scarier, as someone else mentioned, is how many are underclass men.

  3. Good Story October 19, 2015 3:30 pm

    …sorry, also mentioned in the article.

  4. Jonathan Reed another RRFL October 19, 2015 3:31 pm

    I believe they were known as the “big belly” boys.

  5. Jonathan Reed another RRFL October 19, 2015 3:35 pm

    Kesi Ah Hoy is a Junior not a Senior

  6. 88 October 19, 2015 3:45 pm

    Paul I believe the problem with lining up a Defensive jumbo package to match Kahuku is the stamina that it’s going to require for these kids to have to play both ways. A big reason Kahuku’s linemen are able to endure and keep pace is because majority of them come from the Rugby team. Check out the games on YouTube and you will see these same kids running and tackling non stop for two 45 minute half’s.

  7. Good Story October 19, 2015 3:56 pm

    BTW…awesome article Hawaii Prep World. I am feeling the love from you guys. Keep up the good work.

  8. Good Story October 19, 2015 3:58 pm

    Yes, yes..I know 88. I am going to grind him afterwards…or them.

  9. ManoaRainbow October 19, 2015 4:31 pm

    Such a stark contrast to the new spread offenses that are run at an elite level by Mililani, Punahou and St. Louis – it will be exciting to see how Kahuku matches up against these three elite teams. This article has got me thinking that the title is up for grabs.

  10. Good Story October 19, 2015 4:34 pm

    Love your suddle “elite” comments. Yes, we will eventually see who is truly “elite”.

  11. ManoaRainbow October 19, 2015 4:42 pm

    Malo internet police aikai..I mean ainokea!

  12. Good Story October 19, 2015 4:46 pm

    Hah! My bulge…I man badge bigger than yours.

  13. Paper Crane October 19, 2015 4:49 pm

    For many moons this here write by Paul Honda was long overdue and like it’s all about numbers mainly what’s on the scoreboard after every game and that intense silence of confidence within them poundages can sure make waves and move mountains and like lets give Paul Honda our Red Hearted mahalo whereas Paul putting Red Raiders Numbers in black and white along with video backup only deserve recognition for a Meritorious Sports Writers Award;..again Mahalo to you Paul Honda like you always better then the best, this here article shows you spent many hours piecing this context together,..and your personal best is always commendable.. RR4L/63er

  14. ManoaRainbow October 19, 2015 5:04 pm

    Eh! Eh! good story now you can go get a room and flash your bulge…I mean badge to 88 and grind him! ..oh boy…dis valea keyboard

  15. 88 October 19, 2015 5:09 pm

    Put the pipe down before you get on the keyboard. You killing me right now

  16. Good Story October 19, 2015 5:15 pm

    All I’m saying, is don’t think you won’t be challenged in here. I disagree with your premise, that those 3 teams are elite and we are not. Passing offense doesn’t make a team elite. Having more championships should at least qualify us to be included. And coming from the investigative reporter of the year, if anybody is the Internet police around here-you take the cake.

  17. Manly October 19, 2015 5:22 pm

    Paul, I agreed on putting your best linemen on the defensive line against Kahuku. I can see with a lot of teams those big linemen are on offense. Especially on the top tier like Mililani, Punahou and St.Louis. The problem is that 2 way linemen is going to be winded against a relentless Kahuku defense. It’s a case of picking your poison. Like you said above the tonnage exerted on the opposing defensive line is brutal and tiring. I don’t know anyone who would want to turn around and defend against their defense.

  18. Paper Crane October 19, 2015 5:32 pm

    @ Good Story,…you being polite about them three “ELITE” teams,…more like how Kahuku will “DELETE” all three teams;…spread, like Red Raideres only know one kind of spread and that’s to spread the scores on the scoreboard,..that doesn’t lie.

  19. Homegrown October 19, 2015 5:36 pm

    The best option for any of Kahuku’s opponents is to hope and pray they get Jim Beavers son as an umpire when they play Kahuku. He can single handedly shut down this power offense by killing their drives with holding calls galore and then turn around and not call a single hold when Kahuku’s defense are getting their jerseys torn off their pads.

  20. Good Story October 19, 2015 5:38 pm

    @Paper Crane
    Mahalo. Don’t let us foolish youngsters get you worked up. You just keep posting..I enjoy reading your comments. Makes my Day.

  21. 88 October 19, 2015 5:47 pm

    He’s like a foby Shakespeare only fobier…..

  22. Good Story October 19, 2015 6:26 pm

    @Paper Crane
    Don’t be confused…coming from 88, that’s a compliment.

  23. Paul Honda October 19, 2015 6:34 pm

    Thank you, Jonathan Reed. I thought he was a Jr., too, but saw a roster with the wrong grade. Getting old. I don’t trust my memory sometimes.

  24. Lee Boy October 19, 2015 7:39 pm

    Congrats to kahuku on an impressive win.That’s a lot of beef up front, but it can be contained. By playing old school defense. Put the biggest dudes on the D-line no matter if they are Offensive Line men and run a 4-4 defense have two DB on the edges with a safety just incase. Follow the big 290lbs FB and gang tackle the runner, the whole defense has to work as a unit. Again if you are overmatch you will not be able to stop them no matter what defense you run, but this gives the opposing team a better shot of slowing them down. The season is coming to an exciting end.
    PS Milton should be back by the OIA championship game. LMAO

  25. Northshore October 19, 2015 7:48 pm

    Kahuku will be a power house for the next 20 years unless Punahou, St Louis and Kamehameha provide them with sweet talk and “Financial Aid.” I know for a fact that athlete’s parents that have accepted “financial aid” for their son or daughter to attend these schools, have put a lot of pressure on their kids because many did not have the desire to leave their friends and Kahuku. It’s all about prestige, a better education and a lot of sacrifice, but it all boils down to, would you rather play and represent the “Red Raiders” or play for a private school that has no ties to the community and be a nobody in the community? There are many more juniors and sophomores that would be able to fill in and play just as effective and it’s just a matter of reloading every year, not like so many schools that have couple of good years and revert back to a losing tradition. Kahuku has proven to be the school that has provided the most NFL players from this state and it only shows that it will continue to produce talented college prospect every year. It’s what we call “kahuku Built.”….”Got Power.”

  26. Tanoai Reed October 19, 2015 7:51 pm

    @Homegrown, Aint that the truth! I’d like to petition to have mainland refs work the championship games. That way they have no history with any coaches, schools or alumni and It would help stop all the accusations of “Juiced” calls. Keep it unbiased. No questions asked.

  27. Paper Crane October 19, 2015 7:53 pm

    @88 and Good Story,…mahalo to you both and like coincidentally/seriously my birth month and day is the same as Shakespear;..didn’t need to attend higher learning/college whereas KHS taught me enough to stay humble in my comm skills;…like Kahuku,..a great place to be from our Red Raiders nation.

  28. Rough Rider October 19, 2015 10:14 pm

    For the Refs, I think they should do it like the courts system when picking the jury’s. Each head coach of both teams look over the Refs and pick the one they both agree upon, then let’s play ball.

  29. Realistic October 20, 2015 11:01 am

    How did Kahuku do on the SBAC with the results being made public yesterday?

  30. JUNE JONES October 20, 2015 11:13 am

    Nice!!!!! Did any of them get scholarships? How are their grades? What is their GPA? Are they playing to get to the next level or just playing for community pride? Or is it just the people commenting on these articles? Some people would argue that the best O line would have to be the O line with the most full ride scholarship to a University to GET THEIR DEGREE… Do you agree with them?

  31. Pick Six October 20, 2015 11:31 am

    What does the SBAC have to do with this article?

  32. Petey October 20, 2015 11:41 am

    Kahuku looked awesome. The only concern I would have is that a freshman quarterback put up 356 yards passing, and the defense only had two sacks. The Kapolei offensive line is small, (except for #76) but they held it down against a huge Red Raider DL. Mililani, Punahou and St. Louis all have more advanced passing games and can also run the ball, which could pose a problem for the big red.

  33. Realistic October 20, 2015 1:18 pm

    @ Pick Six these are student athletes. Notice the word student comes first. I am just curious with all this emphasis on sports, I was wondering how they are doing on the academic side since we all know the smart and safe play is a great education, not sports. I heard some people feel sports is more important than academics which is wrong. Everything that has to do with High School should be tied into the academic side.

  34. laie boys DOWN October 20, 2015 2:04 pm

    for everyone talking and all the kahuku computer warriors over here, Kahuku’s so called ‘shutdown D’ is the exact same Defense they had last year except they lost a lot of key players like Wiley, alohi, afalava ect. go to the 1 minutes mark on mililani’s RB’s highlight tape (vavae malepeai) and you’ll see him running all over that D LMAO. I say all of this just to prove that kahuku plays weak teams and as soon as they play real competition they fold

  35. Realistic October 20, 2015 2:24 pm

    I also wonder what are the GPA’s, SAT, and ACT scores for each student athlete. I also wonder how many AP classes each of them take if they are juniors or seniors.

  36. red x October 20, 2015 3:52 pm

    @laieboysdown no worries there time will come and get run over! Brah we won championships by running the ball. Next…

  37. RRFLbaby October 20, 2015 4:08 pm

    @laieboysdown, check the stats, malepeai had 21 carries for a whopping 57 yards last year. Running all over that D? U drinking too much kava. But it is a different year and Big Red has a different Dline, so knows, Malepeai could have bigger numbers this year. Im not gona lie, Malepeai is a beast.

  38. 94RR October 20, 2015 4:20 pm

    @Realistic why don’t you go investigate EVERY student athlete @ EVERY school before you pass judgement or make assumptions. All athletes know where sports can take you and know that school comes first. Our community is a community of hard working people who only want the best for their children and realize that sometimes that means sending them to Punahou, St. Louis,Kamehameha or any other private school for that matter. Now these schools are great but realize why they are giving our kids a chance, not because of their GPA or SAT scores, it’s because they went to a pop warner game and saw a kid with SKILLS on the football field. Kahuku High School may not be the pick of the litter when it comes to AP class students but we do the best with what we have, just like everybody else. That is why I am proud to be a red raider, because we have a community of supporters that cannot be imitated. Realize “Realistic” you can’t imitate Reality. RedRaidersForLife

  39. Pick Six October 20, 2015 5:28 pm

    @ realistic : The info can be downloaded. Let us know what you find. Don’t know what you are trying infer here.

  40. Pick Six October 20, 2015 5:36 pm

    @94RR. Going to private schools mean absolutely squat. I know alot of former student athletes from those 3 ILH schools you mentioned that work construction, ad security guards and even 7-11.

  41. Lee Boy October 20, 2015 6:24 pm

    @Pick Six- I know people with college degree that don’t have Jobs. Folks have to feed their family so they take whatever is available.

  42. 88 October 20, 2015 6:42 pm

    As long as its an honest days wages for an honest days work who cares where they work. This here is a sports forum where we are talking about football and you want to bring up peoples jobs. A student who barely graduates from High School can enter the U.S. Military or get a Federal job and make more $$$ and have a better retirement plan than most and all that with only a High School diploma or GED. Its all about the individuals desire to do better for him/herself and their family. NOW back to HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL……

  43. Pukateet October 20, 2015 7:36 pm

    Hey Petey, 356 yards don’t mean anything if you only put 10 points on the board. Kahuku decided to just rush three and stay stay in zone coverage and keep Kapolei between the 20’s, If Kahuku decided to go after Tua (thats what i wanted to see) they would have got him much more then twice. It was a coaching call and it worked.

  44. GoBigRed October 20, 2015 7:52 pm

    @Realistic – check your facts. Kahuku’s student-athletes have to carry a self-inflicted (by the school’s administration) higher GPA than the rest of the OIA. DOH!

    As for this article – what I really love about this new offense is the no huddle aspect… Everybody else does no huddle spread read option that the Oregon Ducks pretty much introduced to the nation. But this no huddle just pounds on the defense, wearing them down.

    @Lee Boy – you say to run “old school defense” like the old Bears 46 defense, but the problem is having the personnel to run that…all game…without getting tired. Waianae and Kapolei both ran that “old school defense”… and right up until they played Kahuku those defenses looked great! But just because Kahuku ran all over those same defenses = all of a sudden their defenses were crap?? What kind of logic is that?? Does Punahou OR St Louis have that personnel? (I know Mililani doesn’t). C’mon… THINK before you post stuff li’dat…cuz all it sounds like is wishful thinking…

  45. 94RR October 20, 2015 8:28 pm

    @picksix you are correct , school make no difference , I just wanted to make a point that these schools are after our athletes not because of GPA but because of their athletic skills. It’s up to the athlete to make the best of the situation. Take this article for example. If you have a stable of running backs and an offensive line like this, why not use them all. In the end the best TEAM will prevail. Maybe someone will figure out how to stop this offensive set but until then looks like the coaches plan to SMASH. The games still have to be played and someone has to lose. Cheers to Kapolei for putting up 10, because that’s 10 more than anyone else. Here at Kahuku we take it one game at a time and Govs are our next test,and I can’t wait. Go Big Red!!

  46. Lee Boy October 20, 2015 10:45 pm

    @GoBigRed- it’s obvious that you know your football bro I give you props, but Waianae and Kapolei were not running the bears 46 defense. Kapolei have way to many players on the line that was a mistake. Once Kahuku broke through they had no one to tackle the running back. I haven’t seen no one run the 4-4 yet. You are right Mililani doesn’t have the personnel to do so but either St. Louis and Punahou do have the athletes. It’s the kind of defense Kahuku was running against Waianae but the Raida were using Latu as a rushing end. Iosefa and Matutia have the same skill sets as Latu. They can cover or put presure on the QB. Since Kahuku is coming straight at you you need to clogged the middle, it’s like having two barriers 4 Big OL and 4LB 3 yards behind. I also said that if the Defense is overmatch they can’t stop the run, no matter what defense you run

  47. Same Ol Same Ol October 21, 2015 9:28 am

    @LeeBoy – How was St Louis’ defense when they first play Punahou? Just curious

  48. 88 October 21, 2015 3:47 pm

    They were terrible. However its hard to play the same team multiple times in one season. Coaches and players know each others tendencies so they know what to game plan for. I believe Punahou got caught going to the well one to may times. The 3rd game should be very interesting.

  49. Realistic October 23, 2015 7:24 am

    @94RR I am passing judgement after I saw the atrocious scores. Maybe the focus should be more on the classroom.

    @GoBigRed, ave you seen the scores? You guys are no where near the state median. And what is the GPA they are asked to carry? A 2.3 or something like that? Kids should be able to get a 2.3 (or close to it) without even studying. That isn’t even a C+ GPA. Way to set the bar high GoBigRed@

  50. Realistic October 23, 2015 7:30 am

    @94RR why do I need to? I am talking about Kahuku’s low academic performance. You are like the little kid who breaks a rule in kindergarten and gets busted. Then when the teacher talks to you after getting caught, you say, “Well Little Johnny was running in the hall too!”

    Um, that doesn’t make what you did any more or less wrong. It is wrong all by itself.

    So I don’t know what looking at other athletes have to do with these poor scores. How about have some accountability and say, “Yes are scores aren’t where we want it to be but we are making positive gains and are looking for different techniques to enhance students learning to get a more positive outcome.”

    Do you teach your children to make excuses and to hide when they aren’t hitting the mark? When they come home with subpar grades do you tell the teacher to look at the other kids? When your kids make mistakes like they all do, do you tell them it’s okay since the other students did the same?

    No wonder the grades are bad. All I see is excuses, look at others, or aggressive retorts. How about, “yes you are correct and we will try harder to empower our children with the skills to change these low scores.”

    But then again this mentality is at the root of why the scores are bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email