Interview: Going In-depth with 3-Star 2020 Hawaii DB @kaonohikaniho
College coaches are catching on to the amount of talent in Hawaii on the high school football fields. The top exports from paradise have primarily been offensive and defensive linemen with a few amazing quarterbacks helping pull the spotlight to the islands. But, there is more Hawaii high school football has to offer than stud lineman and gun slinging quarterbacks – they have skill players too. Guys like Class of 2020 cornerback/free safety Kaonohi Kaniho are helping expand the recruiting reach from the mainland.
Kaniho was that defensive back ready to strike at a moment’s notice last season coming up with 34 stops while picking off five passes with one fumble recovery in 13 games played. He was also a boost to the Red Raiders offense rushing one time for an 11-yard touchdown and pulled in five passes for 171 yards putting three scores up on the board. The 5-10, 180-pound, athlete is back at it during his junior season having already picked off two passes with one pick-six on the stat sheet.
With Kaniho helping Kahuku to a 3-0 record, ranked No. 2 in Hawaii, they are set for a Sept. 7 showdown against St. Louis, the No. 1 ranked team in Hawaii, ranked No. 6 in the nation by MaxPreps after upending California powerhouse Narbonne 47-7 on Aug. 17. In a RNG exclusive interview, I sat down with one of Hawaii’s top rising stars in the 2020 class to learn more about his game and recruiting interest with a quick look ahead to the highly anticipated Crusaders showdown.
Kaonohi, you were all over the secondary last season, where all are you lining up on the field this year for the Red Raiders?
“I am playing corner this year, we have a lot of returning defensive backs. If the coaches need me at safety, that is what I will do to help the team win.”
How did you prepare for the season over the spring and summer months?
“This spring I worked on technique with my dad and my brother. I was trying to get bigger, stronger, and faster. I did a lot of stretching. I focused a lot on my hips, you have to have great hips as a DB. I am always working on opening my hips, I get beat a couple of times last year because of my hips not being able to open up faster. I worked on my back pedal and staying low. I worked on all the things defensive backs have to work on to get better.”
How did the first two games of the season against Konawaena and Punahou go for you?
“They went great. We won both. Everyone wanted to see us in the opener. We were fired up. After watching the game film, I saw things I needed to work on to improve this season. But, it was a great way to start the season. We have to move on from the first three games and prepare for the next one.”
From fall camp, the first two games of the season and into the Wai’anae game, where are you seeing the biggest improvements in your overall game?
“I’d say my physicality is a big improvement from last year. This is my third year playing varsity, the game is slowing down for me. I am working each week to get better at everything I do.”
I have to call you out, in a positive way, you ball hawked against Wai’anae with two picks, one in the end zone stopping a score and the other a pick-six. With the pick-six, when you beat the quarterback and were home free, what was going through your mind?
(Laughs) “Yeah. I was fired up. I threw up the peace sign for fun on that one. Preparation through the week helped me be successful. The coaches make our jobs easier on the field because of how well they prepare us for each game.”
You flashed your speed on the interception return, how fast are you?
“I haven’t tested in the 40 yet. I show my speed on game film.”
You guys have a big game against St. Louis coming up, how have practices been over the bye getting ready for the No. 4 team in the nation?
“We have been doing a lot of conditioning, so we don’t burn out in the game. Next week we will do more scheming. We have been watching film all week. We will do the same next week so we can get a step on their routes and be better prepared for the game.”
Over the summer, did you get a chance to take any unofficial visits?
“I went to Washington for an unofficial. I went on a tour and saw everything.”
Which schools are showing recruiting interest in you?
“Washington, UCLA, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Rice came to talk to me, UNLV, Utah, and Boise State – they are waiting for my junior season film. A lot of the coaches want to see my film from this season.”
Which school has offered you already?
Nice. Do you play any other sports for Kahuku?
“Yes. I run track and play basketball. Our DB coach is our track coach. He makes sure we get out there and compete in track to stay in shape and build our speed.”
Which events did you compete in with track?
“The 100 meters and the 4×1.”
With football, what goals have you set for yourself in 2018?
“My goals are to dominate every play that I can and help my team make it to the state championship and win it.”
Is there a philosophy to achieving your goals?
“I take everything week by week.”
Is there an area of your game you feel gets overlooked?
“I leave that to everyone else. I don’t worry about that. I think about preparing myself for our game each week and focus on who we face next.”
Kaonohi, thanks for your time today and good luck against St. Louis.