Kahuku storms on Farrington, 47-14, returns to title game
Kahuku running back Aofaga Wily rushed for 141 yards and four touchdowns. Sean Nakamura | SL
Is there a level higher than Division I in Hawaii high school football? Kahuku's vaunted defense overwhelmed Farrington's offense and aided the Red Raiders in an easy 47-14 win Friday night in a semifinal of the First Hawaiian Bank Division I state tournament. It was more lopsided than their regular season meeting when Kahuku won, 31-6. "We felt we had the guys to match up with them," Farrington coach Randall Okimoto said. "They just played better. They outplayed us both sides of the ball, all phases. it's like they play at another level. "You can see there's a different speed, especially defensively. Defensively, they've been dominating how many years already. It's tough to get things going." A gathering of 5,225 at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium saw two routes; Punahou beat Mililani, 49-19, in an earlier semifinal. The defending champion Red Raiders (11-0), tops in the ScoringLive/OC16 Power Rankings, will meet No. 2 Punahou (8-2) for the second year in a row for the state crown Friday. It is a rematch of a preseason meeting won by Kahuku, 21-13, at Carelton E. Waimer Athletic Field on Aug. 16. "It's just another step to our goal," Kahuku senior linebacker Johnny Tapusoa said. "We just have to treat it like every other week. It's worth a lot. We know that. We can't' falter." Kahuku is looking to add to its record six titles, while Punahou is seeking its first since 2008. This will be the Red Raiders' ninth final and the Buffanblu's fourth. They have met twice for the crown with Kahuku winning both times. 'It's going to be a tough game," Kahuku coach Reggie Torres said. "They've got a great offense. It's just a matter of us going back to basics, look at film, see what we can do to try to prepare for them." It was a tournament record-tying night for two Red Raiders. Running back Aofaga Wily rushed for four touchdowns, tying Farrington's Tyler Taumua, who set the mark in last year's quarterfinals against Baldwin. Also, Jake Samsel booted a 49-yard field goal, tying him for the longest with Kahuku's Cameron Mercado, who did it in the 2009 semifinals against Farrington. Wily rushed for 141 yards on 24 carries to lead all rushers. "We did a lot better offensively (than the first meeting with Farrington)," Torres said. "You noticed 'Faga did a lot better job running the ball. We had a lot better blocking up front." But it was Kahuku's defense that set the tone. The Governors were held to 123 yards in total offense with 78 yards coming on Taumua's TD run with seven minutes, 27 seconds left in the game against the Red Raiders' reserves when the running clock was in session because of the mercy rule. Farrington's tandem of Taumua and Abraham Silva rushed for 104 and 33 yards, respectively. Both entered the game with more than 1,200 yards rushing each. "We're blessed with some great players and speed," Torres said. "On one of the breaks, we were able to run Silva down." The Red Raiders were determined to stop the Governors' running game. "Just like every other defense, (our objective) was stopping them from scoring," said Tapusoa, the team leader with seven tackles, two of them for lost yardage. "But basically ours was stop the run. Because they're so dominant (with the run), we know what they can do. We just wanted to stop that run and take it out of their game plan." Taumua had just 26 yards before his 78-yard TD run. "Their defense, they might not be the biggest, but they sure got speed," Taumua said. "Their defense kills (our running game). Everybody knows that speed kills. These guys showed their speed on the 'D.'" A lost fumble on Farrington's second offensive series of the game led to Kahuku's first score. The special teams contributed two scores, first on Samsel's field goal to make it 24-0 at the half and Laselle Thompson's 95-yard kickoff return to open the second half. The Governors didn't help themselves either. Besides the fumble, Taumua, who also punts, inadvertently went to his knee to field a low snap that gave Kahuku the ball at the Farrington 34, setting up the Red Raiders' third TD of the first half. All four of Kahuku's first-half scores took no more than four plays and was no longer than 57 yards. Taumua's first TD of the game, a two-yard run with 4:53 left in the third quarter, pulled Farrington to 31-6. But Wily's fourth TD run of the game with 1:36 in the third quarter made it 38-6. The Governors then had a low snap from center in shot gun formation force them to down the ball in the end zone for a Kahuku safety to make it 40-6 with 15 seconds left in the third quarter. Reserve RB Pupu Siilata scored on an 18-yard run with 9:06 left in the game to make it 47-6 and start the running clock. But less than two minutes later, Taumua's 78-yard TD run put the game back on the regular clock, as Farrington pulled to 47-14.