Kahuku’s defense smothers Leilehua
BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM
Kahuku’s Enoch Nawahine stiff-armed a Leilehua defender on his way to a first down on Friday.
No. 2 Kahuku was in a tight football contest at home against Leilehua on Friday night before pulling away for a 24-0 victory.
The Red Raiders took advantage of four interceptions of the Mules, including three in the first half, to take a 10-0 lead that carried them deep into the fourth quarter of the Oahu Interscholastic Association season-opening game.
“Our offense, we did start out slow,” said Red Raiders running back Enoch Nawahine, who rushed for 163 yards on 30 carries. “It was a battle, especially in the first half. But that is what our coaches train us to do — battle. We did exactly that. Thank goodness to our defense. They saved us a bunch with those interceptions. The touchdown at the end was a relief.”
Nawahine put the game away for the Red Raiders (1-0, 1-0) with a late 7-yard TD run.
In the first three quarters, without those four interceptions, it was mainly a punt-fest, and credit for that goes to both defenses. The Leilehua defense showed its mettle by holding Kahuku down for long stretches.
“We did our job,” said Leilehua coach Mark Kurisu, whose team dropped to 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the OIA. “They don’t have two or three All-Americans and multiple players with scholarships for nothing. What they did to our offense … they did their job. They’ve got talent, but we showed we can play with them. That’s what I wanted to see. That’s how we ball out.”
Added Leilehua’s Sunny Kanamu Jr.: “Our team played their hearts out and it showed. We held our own.”
Interceptions by Nalu Emerson and Kaonohi Kaniho led to Kahuku’s first two scoring plays. Duke Heffernan booted a 28-yard field goal and sophomore quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava found the end zone with a 2-yard run for a 10-0 halftime lead.
That’s the way it stayed until the fourth, when the Red Raiders drove 75 yards to make it 17-0 with 7:49 to go. Ikaika Togiai caught a 4-yard TD pass from Maiava and that was made possible by a 28-yard over-the-shoulder catch by Thorton Alapa.
Leilehua quarterback Kona Andres was pressured by the Kahuku defense into a 2-for-14 night.
“They put pressure,” Kurisu said. “We had to get the ball out early. We would have liked to make better reads.”
Kahuku interim coach Makoa Freitas raved about his team’s defense.
“Leilehua is a good team and they had a lot of pride and came out hard,” he said. “Our defense played great. On offense, we worked through our mistakes. There’s a lot more we can do to get better.”