Kahuku clubs Waianae
STEVEN ERLER / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER
Kahuku’s Nalu Emerson stiff-armed Waianae linebacker Angus Ramaila while running for yardage during the first half at Raymond Torii Field in Waianae on Friday.
Heavily favored Kahuku hit some bumps early Friday night, but finally found the mojo it needed on the way to a convincing 49-13 OIA Open Division football victory over Waianae at Raymond Torii Field.
Slowly and steadily, the Red Raiders (3-0, 1-0) pulled away. For a long while, it looked like it was going to be another Waianae vs. Kahuku “Bruise Bowl” cliffhanger like the state Open semifinal a year ago, when Kahuku barely squeezed out a 10-7 win.
There certainly was some bruising, mostly by Kahuku’s defense, which not only knocked two quarterbacks out of the game but also scored four touchdowns and added a safety.
“Our defense is tough, but Waianae always plays us tough,” Red Raiders coach Sterling Carvalho said. “They’re basically cut from the same rock we are. Tough. Tough, tough, tough. They have a great program and great players. This is the Waianae team we expected. It was a slow start, and our defense gave us a chance offensively to do what we needed to do.”
Waianae (0-3, 0-1) held tough, trailing just 2-0 after one quarter and 16-0 at the half.
With two defensive touchdowns, Kahuku linebacker Aaron Fonoimoana-Vaomu had a night to remember. He scored the first one by recovering KJ Macatiag’s blocked punt in the end zone to make it 16-0 late in the first half . The second boosted the score to 29-0 when he recovered a high punt snap in the end zone midway through the third quarter.
“We started slow, but we found our keys in the second half,” Fonoimoana-Vaomu said. “Shout out to the D-line and linebackers making plays. (The touchdowns) are a blessing. It wasn’t even me. It was all the other players and I was just in the right place.”
Waianae starting quarterback Justin Tacgere and backup Shaydon Lopes went down with shoulder injuries. Lopes wound up throwing TD passes to Chad Pule and Tyson Pualoa to avoid the shutout.
Offensively, Kahuku had nowhere to go in the early going against an inspired Waianae defense led by Zefften Thompson-Avilla, Kalena Sione and Selu Cook.
It was Kahuku’s Tuia Tupuola who put Kahuku’s first points on the board with a sack of Thompson-Avilla, the punter, in the Seariders’ end zone to end Waianae’s first possession.
The Red Raiders didn’t score again until the 5:31 mark of the second quarter, when quarterback Thorton Alapa — the second QB in the game behind Robbie Sauvao — hit Mason Paulo with a 31-yard TD pass. That made it 9-0 and the momentum continued from there.
Later on, Sauvao also fired a TD pass — an 18-yarder to Ikaika Wells.
But it was defense that ruled the day for Kahuku. Kaonohi Kaniho and Ace Kaufusi both ran back Lopes interceptions for TDs.
“Kahuku is a great team,” Seariders coach Walter Young said. “They’re defensively strong and special teams made plays. We made mistakes and those mistakes are fixable. These kids played their heart out. I’ll take the blame and we’ll get better. Win or lose, I’m always proud of them.”
Added Thompson-Avilla: “We showed we can hang with the big boys, but (the question is) how long can we hang with them. We’re going to come back, try harder this week and get ready for Campbell.”