Stuffed Kahuku tramples Farrington, earning the state’s top seed
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM Kahuku and Farrington players shook hands after the game.
It took a masterful, unprecedented performance by Kahuku to get back on the title-winning track.
The No. 2-ranked Red Raiders limited the state’s top rusher, Tyler Taumua, to 19 yards, en route to a 23-0 win over No. 1 Farrington for the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference championship Friday at Aloha Stadium.
Kahuku (10-1) permitted just 124 yards in total offense against one of the state’s most dominant teams. Using a five-man front without losing coverage on Farrington’s go-to receiver, Toma Barrett, Kahuku turned a 3-0 halftime lead into a runaway by the fourth quarter.
"This feels great, especially after everything that happened last year," said defensive back Bronson Beatty, who had two interceptions.
Last year, Kahuku was barred from the OIA title game after questions arose of possible ineligibility of a player. That ended what had been a perfect 10-0 season. This time, it took work on the field to win the title and a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed in the state tourney.
"I feel great. We still got states to go. It’ll be good to get the bye. It was a tight game all the way through," Kahuku coach Reggie Torres said. "We played team defense, contained the run and the pass. We had to play team defense. We had no other choice. We adjusted our defense because of Taumua and Barrett."
The Red Raiders also used a new wrinkle, an "H" formation suggested by defensive coordinator Kimo Aalona.
"It’s a great feeling for the kids. They wanted to do it for the alumni," Torres added.
Farrington’s first loss after 10 wins won’t hurt for long; it gets to play in the opening round of the state tourney next week against host Baldwin.
"It’s a step backwards from the season, I guess," Taumua said. "Kahuku’s defense is the most defense I’ve gone up against from the first time we played them. The best team won, but hopefully we see them again in states."
The first half was much like the regular-season duel: a defensive battle. Two personal fouls by Farrington set up a short drive by Kahuku that netted a 22-yard field goal by junior Kekahu Aluli. It was a morale boost for the Red Raiders, who were unable to get off a field-goal try and a crucial PAT in the first matchup.
Kahuku led 3-0 with 4:16 to go in the opening quarter and got past midfield only once more before the half. A fake on a 43-yard field goal try by Aluli was decoded by Farrington linebacker Semo Sila, who sacked holder Spencer Nagy on the rollout, ending the first half.
It was a difficult first half for the elite running backs. Taumua had 12 yards on nine carries. Kahuku’s Aofaga Wily had five attempts for 22 yards.
The Red Raiders asserted themselves with a series of plays out of a pistol, power-I set. Tre Kubota, a reserve running back, thrived on the drive, and a pass from Lasi Livai to Benny Fonua gave Kahuku first down a the 1-yard line.
Livai’s sneak over right guard gave Kahuku a 9-0 lead with 2:57 to go in the third quarter. The PAT kick missed.
The Governors opened up their offense, went to the shotgun and drove to the Kahuku 35-yard line. After Farrington quarterback Travis Tamapua converted a fourth and 1 on a sneak, the senior was picked off by Beatty on a quick pass toward Barrett.
Kahuku drove 54 yards in 10 plays for another touchdown, though Farrington generously committed four penalties, including a pass interference on fourth down and an encroachment on third and 2.
Wily scored his first touchdown on a 1-yard run to give Kahuku a 16-0 lead with 7:55 remaining.
Livai’s 18-yard strike to Nagy on a stop-and-go route with 3:42 left sealed the win for Kahuku.
At Aloha Stadium
Kahuku (10-1) 3 0 6 14—23
Farrington (10-1) 0 0 0 0—0
Kah—FG Kekahu Aluli 43 Kah—Viliami Livai 1 run (kick failed) Kah—Aofaga Wily 1 run (Aluli kick) Kah—Spencer Nagy 18 pass from Livai (Aluli kick) RUSHING—Kahuku: Aofaga Wily 14-51, Viliami Livai 6-45, Tre Kubota 11-43, Kawehena Johnson 1-18, James Kahele 3-9, Sterling Moe 4-3, Spencer Nagy 1-(-17). Farrington:Tyler Taumua 11-19, Tavale Masalosalo 7-12, Abraham Silva 4-9, Shane Cabato-Machado 1-4, Toma Barrett 1-2, Travis Tamatua 7-(-9). PASSING—Kahuku: Livai 7-13-0-53. Farrington: Tamatua 8-21-2-97. RECEIVING—Kahuku: Johnson 2-14, Benneton Fonua 1-14, Moe 1-10, Nagy 1-6, Mekeli Fiso 1-5, Bronson Beatty 1-4. Farrington: Toma Barrett 4-33, Francis Evagelia 3-34, Masalosalo 1-30.