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No. 1 Kahuku pulverizes Leilehua, 63-0

Kahuku RB Elvis Vakapuna looks back at a Leilehua before waltzing into the end zone on a 5-yard TD run. CJ Caraang | SL

KAHUKU — Call it total domination.

Top-ranked Kahuku scored in all three facets of the game to steamroll visiting Leilehua, 63-0 in an Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I quarterfinal playoff game at Carleton E. Weimer Field Friday night.

The Red Raiders (8-1), the defending Division I state and OIA champion, also punched their ticket into the inaugural Open Division state tournament with their fifth shutout of the year.

"They're definitely ready for the Open Division championship no doubt," Leilehua coach Nolan Tokuda said of the Red Raiders. "We just got outplayed. Our guys just didn't come out to play, got to give credit to Kahuku. They came to play, plain and simple."

It was the second meeting between the two teams this season. Kahuku defeated the Mules (4-6) on the road to start the year, 49-15, which was the most points that the Red Raiders have allowed to a Hawaii team since second-year coach Vavae Tata took over the program.

"We wanted to get our goose egg back, I'm happy we did that tonight," said defensive back Kekaula Kaniho, who had two pass breakups, two interceptions, one of which went for a 33-yard score. "We just wanted to come back strong off our bye week and just play our game because we haven't played a full game yet."

The Red Raiders move on take on the winner between Waianae and Mililani in the OIA D1 semifinals at Hawaiian Tel Federal Credit Union Field at Aloha Stadium next Saturday.

The Mules' season is not over. Since the Hawaii High School Athletic Association approved a new three-tier football state tournament earlier in the year, all OIA D1 teams that make the quarterfinals earn a state berth. Leilehua will be one of four teams representing the OIA in the Division I state tourney.

Kahuku led 49-0 at the half and churned out 427 total yards while holding Leilehua to 85 yards. The Red Raiders were also able to force three turnover on downs and three interceptions without sending extra guys to rush the passer.

"We just kept it vanilla, let the kids loose and try to make plays off our base calls," said Tata. "I want to say we only called three or four calls on defense, so it was great to see them making plays off of those."

After penalties derailed both team's opening drives, Stokes Nihipali-Botelho got the scoring going with an electrifying 64-yard punt return off a short boot by Keanu Hirota. The Leilehua coverage team was timid in downing the ball, which allowed Nihipali-Botelho room to scoop it up and take it down the right sideline for six.

The Red Raiders nearly got another special teams touchdown after forcing the Mules to go three-and-out on their next series, but an unsportsmanlike penalty wiped out a potential score for Kaniho. The penalty put the ball at the Leilehua 40-yard line, which set up a quick three-play drive that was capped by Harmon Brown's 15-yard TD run.

Kaniho returned a Konapiliahi Andres interception 33 yards down the left sideline to give Kahuku a 21-0 lead heading into the second quarter.

Freshman quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava tacked on a 25-yard TD run on a keeper around right end 27 seconds into the second period to make it a four score game.

The Red Raiders got the necessary score to incur the mercy rule when Maiava hooked up with tight end Pua Falemalu for an 18-yard TD with 4:29 left in the first half.

Elvis Vakapuna and Steven Lombard added touchdown runs late in the second quarter to give Kahuku a 49-0 lead at the break.

Kesi Ah-Hoy and Cameron Renaud scored on 10-yard runs in the third quarter for the final Kahuku points of the game.

#KahukuFootball #ElvisVakapuna #VavaeTata #KekaulaKaniho #StokesNihipaliBotelho #SolJayMaiava #PuaFalemalu #StevenLombard #KesiAhHoy #CameronRenaud

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