'This is unreal'

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin Kahuku players celebrate after beating St. Louis, 26-20, to win the HHSAA title. From left: Isaac Ambeau (23), Leti Faitala (63) and Legrand Lawerence (79). "Finally, Kahuku does it," said Raiders defensive coordinator Byron Beatty.

Red Raiders’ stunning win over St. Louis to take the state title has all Kahuku beaming with pride

Victory celebration goes on all night

North Shore residents today continued a night-long celebration of the Kahuku High School Red Raiders' 26-20 state championship victory over the St. Louis Crusaders.

The general sentiment: "It's about time."

The tight-knit community planned a motorcade at 1 p.m. today to show pride in its boys.

"This is a very beautiful celebration," said Taki Falevai, former Kahuku High School coach, partying with the Raiders' coaches and alumni at the school's football field today.

"Now we know how St. Louis felt when they won all the state championships. Now they know how it feels to lose."

By Ronen Zilberman, Star-Bulletin Kahuku High School football coaches Louis Santiago Jr., defensive back coach, left, and Garth Spurrier, offensive line coach, hold their fingers up for No. 1 after celebrating all night at Kahuku High School's football fields.

"Kahuku #1" and "Big Red" were among signs along the highway hailing the victory.

Some teachers also will return to school Monday looking a lot different because of it.

Choir director Elizabeth Krammer, for example, lost her shoulder-length hair and gained a Mohawk cut on the field last night.

She pledged to cut her hair if the team won during an assembly to motivate the kids. Other teachers said they would shave all their hair off or shave their beards, said June Kailiponi, school custodian for 13 years.

Buses and cars with supporters, parents and kids formed a parade from the stadium to Kahuku High School last night, yelling and honking horns. Then they partied all night.

"It was like a big wedding," said Aisa Wily, Kahuku graduate.

"There was a real big blowout here," Kailipono said. "Parents were here having a ball with their kids. This place was like a parking lot with cars lined up."

Supporters stopped two buses with the football team on the highway when they reached Kahuku and waved banners. "The boys were hysterical," Kailipono said.

By Ronen Zilberman, Star-Bulletin Kahuku football players manage to survive a night of celebration. Kneeling is Helaman Lauaki. From left are Suli Lautaha, Vai Napaa, Magic Atuaia, Sioape Lautaha and Lapeti Lauaki.

"This was the year of the beast," said Wahanui Elkington, who does service projects for the school. Chris Kemoeatu, who recovered two fumbles, was still at the field this morning with about half a dozen of his teammates.

"It was the best feeling of my sports career," he said of the game.

"It's the first time we pulled it off," said Sioape Lautaha. But he said the team was confident. "A lot of hard work and practice helps."

Garth Spurrier, offensive line coach, and Louis Santiago Jr., defensive back coach, were at the school with former coaches and players savoring the victory.

"It will be a great weekend, and the rest of the year, until the next championship," Spurrier said.

Ray Smith and his wife, Beth, said kids from the school were driving up and down Kamehameha Highway all night cheering, and nobody minded.

"They were thrilled and having a wonderful time," Beth Smith said.

Art Brickwood, who tried unsuccessfully to find a paper at McDonald's, said the win was good for the community.

He said his grandson, George Ornellas of Maui, played three years for St. Louis team. "I don't think he's excited."

A statue in front of Kahuku's gymnasium may stand as a longtime reminder to the community of the football championship.

The warrior, a "Symbol of Kahuku 1991," was draped with leis, a fruit basket and a football-shape balloon.

Says the plaque, "The Spirit of Kahuku symbolizes the nobility, strength and courage of the staff and students of Kahuku High School."