Kahuku's line was the backbone of the offense
HALAWA—They may not get a lot of credit or show up in the stat sheets, but Kahuku's offensive line led the way for their punishing ground attack all season. On Friday night, their hard work was rewarded as the Red Raiders (13-0 overall) win the First Hawaiian Bank/Hawaii High School Athletic Association Football State Championships Division I title for the first time since 2012.
"It boils down to if you can control the line of scrimmage, you can win the game. That's what we believed in and we bought in," said offensive line coach Makoa Freitas.
Linemen Jed Heffernan, Ra Elkington, Tamatoa Neher, Vaka Fale, and Ezra Tupuola were the guys up front that helped make it possible against Saint Louis. The Red Raiders also got blocking contributions from Logan Matagi, Vili Fisiiahi and others such as fullbacks and tight ends Stennett Alapa and Noah Magalei.
"As a center, I go throughout the week knowing the plays and make adjustments when we need to. Make adjustments with the coaches and make sure the other four know what they're doing and we work as one unit," said Heffernan, a 6-foot 262 pound senior.
"We have a good group of five guys, actually we are about seven deep. They put in the work after last year's Punahou game and hard work got it for them," said Freitas.
Although the Red Raiders run a simple and predictable offense, opponents had a hard time stopping them. Kahuku finished with 165 net rushing yards and averaged 3.2 yards per carry. Against a stout Crusader defense, the offensive line did not allow a sack.
"I wouldn't get any of those yards, touchdowns, I wouldn't be anything. With them up front, they are the backbone of our offense. It starts up with them and once they get going, we get going and we feed off that vibe," said Kesi Ah-Hoy, who had 103 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Heffernan was injured on a series and came out of the game and Fisiiahi came in to fill in at center for a couple offensive series. He toughed it out and came back to finish the game.
"Going through that injury, I had to get back up because I know I may never get a chance like this ever in my life," said Heffernan.
Although the Red Raiders finished the season undefeated, they had to battle through adversity along the way.
"It feels great right now. We put the work in together and reaching the peak of the mountain is such a great feeling," said Heffernan.