Red Raiders opening up the offense
Kahuku sophomore QB Sol-Jay Maiava drops back to pass against Waianae last Friday night. CJ Caraang | SL
Everyone knows Kahuku's blueprint to success; dominate on defense and special teams while pounding the ball on the ground offensively.
Kahuku is no different this year. All three components were visible in the Red Raiders' 37-0 win over Waianae last Friday, but a fourth part was shown as well.
Believe it or not, Kahuku wants to pass the football.
Sure, the Red Raiders aren't as effective at it as they would like to be, but it's a potential game changer that can give them an edge over any team in the state.
With sophomore quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava, who holds multiple FBS offers, getting more familiar with his reads and opposing coverages, first-year Kahuku coach Makoa Freitas has given him more opportunities to use his arm.
For starters, Maiava attempted 20 or more passes just once as a freshman, and that was in the Red Raiders' season opener. He just had double-digit passing attempts just four times in the season, and had just three attempts in the 2016 Open State championship 30-14 loss to Saint Louis.
The numbers are a lot different this year.
In just two games in 2017, the 6-foot-1 sophomore has already thrown 45 passes. completing 19 of them for 235 yards and three scores.
The desire to get live-game reps while passing the football was evident in the Red Raiders' second drive against Waianae. With first-and-goal on the Seariders' 9-yard line, Maiava had three straight drop backs before scrambling to the 1-yard line on third down.
Production in the passing game wasn't there yet, but would come to fruition on Kahuku's first drive of the second half. Maiava completed a 15-yard throw to Peter John Mataira near the left sideline to convert on second down and would connect on a 23-yard pass to Alex Fonoimoana-Vaomu to take Kahuku into Waianae territory. Maiava would end the drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Mataira on a throw where only the receiver could catch it.
"We took our shots passing and eventually we connected so it was good," said Freitas.
Maiava got intercepted on a throw to the end zone on the Red Raiders' next possession, but the offense shook it off on its next drive with Maiava's 8-yard TD pass to Joe Purcell. Maiava also completed a 13-yard pass to tight end Lokana Enos to convert on third down one play prior to the scoring pass.
"In the second half, coach decided to open it up in the passing game and I think we did a decent job at that," said Maiava.
Kahuku fans should also be happy to know that the offense is still missing some weapons in the lineup. Because junior running back Wes Alo-Maiava, a transfer from Utah, has not suited up yet, senior running back Enoch Nawahine has spent all of his time at running back. When Alo-Maiava gets back in action, that frees up Nawahine to be used as a receiving threat in the slot or from the backfield.
While it remains to be seen if the passing game is something that Kahuku can confidently utilize in a potential postseason run, it's refreshing to see the Red Raiders try something different to match their personnel.