No. 4 Kahuku steamrolls No. 6 Campbell, 50-0
Kahuku's Alekisanita Vimahi (91) and Bradlee Anae (99) combine on a stop against Campbell. The Red Raiders' defense held the Sabers to just 18 yards of total offense in the win. Johnny Wilson | Special to SL
KAHUKU — New threads, same old Kahuku football.
Behind a swarming defense and a ground-and-pound offensive attack, the Red Raiders opened up their season with a 50-0 non-league win over sixth-ranked Campbell at Carleton E. Weimer Field Friday night.
"First one out of the belt, looking forward to many more," said Kahuku first-year coach Vae Tata, whose team is ranked fourth in the Hawaiian Electric Division I Power Rankings. "Hats off to (offensive coordinator) John Hao and the offensive staff, as well as the defensive staff. Kids came out with the right attitude and played their hearts out."
Cornerback Stokes Botelho jump started the Red Raiders' defense with an interception on Siaosi Soto for a 37-yard touchdown return on the Sabers' first play from scrimmage. The rest of Kahuku's defense got into the backfield often, totaling up six total sacks on the night. Defensive end Bradlee Anae led the way with six tackles and two sacks. Collectively the Red Raiders were able to limit Campbell to 18 yards of total offense.
"I just told the kids just play what the defense calls for," said Tata. "Just do your job so the other 10 players can do theirs. Stokes and his pick-six right off the bat, that kind of set it all off. Great job by the defense tonight."
Offensively the Red Raiders had six different ball carriers carry the ball for positive yardage. Tailback Kesi Ah Hoy led the way with 12 carries for 74 yards and two scores while Sefa Ameperosa finished the game with a game-high 82 yards on 14 carries. Harmon Brown was also a key contributor, carrying it five times for 41 yards and two touchdowns. In total the Red Raiders rushed for 215 yards on the night.
"When you have a stable of guys in the backfield that can run the ball, it takes a load off of our quarterbacks and wide receivers," said Tata. "That's what we wanted to establish first and foremost."
The Red Raiders drove all the way to the Campbell 16-yard line on their opening drive before quarterback Jordan Mariteragi was intercepted by Campbell's LBJ Tanoa. Campbell would return the favor with Botelho's pick-six on the ensuing play.
"Over the week we've been going over Campbell's plays," explained Botelho, who finished with two interceptions. "I seen their signals so I kind of knew what they were running. I just pulled the trigger and caught the ball."
Kahuku got the ball back on the Sabers' 35-yard line after forcing a three-and-out. An 11-yard run by Ameperosa and a 20-yard hookup between Mariteragi and Royce Pao helped set up Ah Hoy's first scoring jaunt from three yards out.
Brown's first touchdown of the night would come after Draeton Thompson blocked Keani Pacheco's punt near the goal line. Manaia Atuaia was able to scoop up the loose ball and Brown ran it in from one yard out to put Kahuku up 20-0, 12 seconds into the second quarter.
The Red Raiders took a 34-0 lead into the break with a two-yard dive by fullback LeRod Tongi and another Brown score.
Ah Hoy's five-yard touchdown run with 12.9 remaining in the third quarter gave Kahuku a 40-0 lead to put the 35-point mercy rule in effect.
Kahuku's last touchdown of the game came just before the start of the fourth quarter on an 22-yard interception return by Tema Lindsey. Kicker Kekoa Sasaoka was 5-for-6 on his PATs and drilled a 40-yard field goal midway through the final period to cap the Red Raiders' scoring.
Soto completed 5 of his 12 pass attempts for 52 yards, but had two interceptions and negative 25 yards rushing. Running back Terrell Johnson found no running room against the Red Raiders, carrying the ball 12 times for negative eight yards.
Bright spots on the Sabers' defense include linebacker Tyson Tafai (six tackles, fumble recovery) and defensive back Aaron Bunting (five tackles, interception).
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