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Football became Kahuku’s Samson Reed’s foundation


BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM Kahuku defensive end and Virginia commit Samson Reed on the Kahuku HS football field, Monday, September 4, 2017.

Home sweet home for Samson Reed is simple and beautiful. “My backyard is the mountain and in front is Kekela Beach,” he said. Life for quarterbacks facing the Kahuku Red Raiders has been less pleasant. The normal pattern: Can’t run, can’t complete enough passes, can’t covert for first downs, punt. Fall behind. Get into predictable passing situations. That’s when Reed enjoys the freedom to explode from the blind side, a 6-foot-3, 264-pound defensive end with a burst and increased power — a summer of nonstop training didn’t hurt — like few other pass rushers in the state. The result for Kahuku’s “Silverbacks” defensive line and the unit as a whole has been defensive prowess to the maximum: 13 points allowed in four games. It matters not if Reed faces normal blocking or is double-teamed. “Oh yeah, I’ve had that a lot. I try to break them apart, move them to different levels. It’s always going to be a little bit frustrating, but it makes that one time they mess up, you get through and make the sack, you feel a whole lot better,” Reed said on Sunday. By Monday morning — Labor Day — the Red Raiders were back on campus for 7 a.m. weight training, then firing through drills and practice until 11 a.m. Coach Makoa Freitas puts a great deal of trust in his staff and players, so much so that he rarely has to repeat himself, much less raise his tone. “Samson has improved a lot. A lot of it is weightlifting and training, but it’s also maturity and leadership. Since Big Boys, he’s evolved into one of the leaders of our defense,” Freitas said. “Even if you’re focused as an offensive lineman facing him, his effort and his motor, it’s tough.” Life as a Red Raider is more than Reed expected or imagined. As a child growing up in California, he heard stories about his ancestors from his dad, Tanoai Reed. Samson’s great-grandmother raised Tanoai, who moved back to Kahuku from the mainland and played football. A great-great-grandfather sailed from Samoa to Laie to help build the Mormon temple. When his parents decided to move from Newbury Park to the North Shore five years ago, it wasn’t total culture shock. “Every time we did a barbecue as a kid, I remember hearing ‘Seriously’ by Katchafire. No matter where we lived, my dad always made it as Hawaiian as possible with Hawaiian music, reggae music. He kept the tone,” Reed said. Tanoai Reed, stunt double for superstar actor and entertainer Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, based his career in Southern California, but longed to move home. He missed the neighborhood and the spirit of Kahuku. “I heard plenty of stories. Even in California, I watched Kahuku games when they were streaming live. I wore my Kahuku T-shirts. The first game I remember was the 2012 (state) championship,” Samson Reed recalled. “Every summer, we’d visit my great-grandma out here.” When they finally made the move and settled in, football was the foundation that made the transition easier for young Samson. It was quite a change from his Newbury Park Steelers youth team to the scene at Laie Park. “The difference is competitiveness and size. At Newbury Park, we had a few big kids. If we win or even if we lose, it’s the same. At Laie, you have to lift, run, work hard to earn your position. A lot of talent goes out of Laie and the community is built around that park over there,” he said. Reed thrived in his new environment. By the end of freshman year, he was on the Kahuku varsity squad. After junior year, he spent part of the summer on the road. The University of Virginia invited him to summer camp. “My dad was working up in Atlanta, and we went to the camp,” Reed said. The long trip was worthwhile. Virginia liked him enough to offer a scholarship. As of now, Reed has seven other offers: BYU, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State, UNLV and Washington State. He committed to Virginia on June 26. “My dad was pretty surprised. That’s a long way from home, putting a lot of trust in me to make my own decision. If you’re going to go off the island, you might as well go as far as you want,” Reed said. He doesn’t anticipate any wavering about the decision.

BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM Kahuku defensive end and Virginia commit Samson Reed on the Kahuku HS football field, Monday, September 4, 2017.

“I just wanted to weigh my options until the right school comes, and Virginia is a great school,” he said. A talk with Cavaliers head coach Bronco Mendenhall clarified Reed’s outlook. “He said, ‘Commit to your school, and they’ll commit to you.’ ” Reed has been committed to his dream with the full support of dad and mom (Suzanne). Focusing on school — he has a 3.6 grade-point average — and football is the life he thrives in. All the while, Reed has added to his growing frame. “During the summer, I was 240 (pounds). At the very end, I was 260. My dad is always trying to feed me a lot of chicken breasts, fish and some steak. I ate three regular meals a day, then lots of snacks in between, and at night before I go to bed, I drink a protein shake,” he said. In the weight room, the transformation took form. He bench-pressed 275, 10 reps, in early summer. At summer’s end, he was at 335, eight reps. “At the end of the school year, when I go up to Virginia, I want to be 270, good weight, not sloppy weight, like my dad says,” Reed said. 

Football became Kahuku’s Samson Reed’s foundation

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