Nawahine, defense lead No. 1 Kahuku past No. 8 Leilehua, 24-0
The Red Raiders celebrate in the end zone after RB Enoch Nawahine scored a touchdown. CJ Caraang | SL
KAHUKU — Enoch Nawahine rushed for 166 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries to help No. 1 Kahuku to a season-opening 24-0 win over No. 8 Leilehua Friday night.
The Red Raiders (1-0) got four interceptions from their defense and limited the Mules (1-1 overall, 0-1 league) to 37 yards of total offense in their first game since losing to Saint Louis in last year's Open Division state final.
Nawahine, a 6-foot, 185-pound senior running back, was making his Kahuku debut after transferring from Punahou in the offseason.
"I was very eager," Nawahine said. "Honestly, I felt great. I moved back and this is what I wanted; I wanted the ball. You know, we had a lot to fix in the first quarter. The first half actually we came out slow, (but) it's not how you start, it's how you finish and I'm glad my offensive line pulled through."
Nawahine's 7-yard TD run with 1:28 left in the game closed out the scoring and capped a 10-play, 59-yard drive. He carried seven times for 42 yards on the drive.
"He did a great job," Kahuku coach Makoa Freitas said of Nawahine, who had 83 yards on 17 carries by halftime. "He fought, he persevered, he never gave up. He did a great job."
Sol-Jay Maiava's 8-yard TD run gave the Red Raiders a 10-0 lead with 5:33 remaining in the first half. The score came four plays after Kaonohi Kaniho's interception off Leilehua quarterback Konapiliahi Andres.
Maiava also threw a 4-yard TD pass to fullback Ikaika Togiai after a play-action fake to Nawahine that highlighted a 10-play drive that covered 75 yards and extended Kahuku's lead to 17-0 with 7:49 left in the third quarter.
Red Raiders sophomore defensive back Kaonohi Kaniho with his second interception on the night. CJ Caraang | SL
The sophomore Maiava finished 11-of-25 passing for 121 yards without an interception.
Duke Heffernan opened the scoring with his 28-yard field goal — which was set-up by a Jared Emerson interception — at the 7:51 mark of the second quarter. Heffernan also converted all three of his PAT attempts.
"The defense did well. The offense did well persevering. We'll get better at our run game and blitz pick-up," Freitas said.
Kahuku finished with 313 yards of total offense and ran 69 plays to 41 for Leilehua, but were a modest 2 of 13 on third down conversions.
The Mules' deepest penetration was the Kahuku 45-yard line. They averaged less than a yard per play on offense and picked up just five first downs on the night. They were 0 of 8 on third downs.
"They don't have multiple guys with multiple (D1) scholarship offers for no reason, so they definitely have some talent up front," Kurisu said of the Red Raiders. "They put some pressure, made our guys hurry a little bit, but no matter what, we had a shot and that's all we wanted. I can't ask for anything more from our kids."
Andres finished 3-of-15 passing for 14 yards and was picked off four times — twice by Kaniho.
Defensively, Leilehua was led by Sunny Kanamu, Jr.'s game-high 11 tackles.
The Red Raiders had a chance to extend their lead late in the second quarter after Lauina Falatea's interception gave them the ball back at the Mules' 14. However, Leilehua's defense held on fourth-and-goal from the 1, thanks to a leaping pass deflection by linebacker Donavon Ugalino to keep the score at 10-0 going into the half. Ugalino finished with six tackles and a sack.
It was the first career win for Freitas, who took over the Kahuku program after the offseason departure of Vavae Tata.
"It was a good win, but there's a lot of things to get better at," Freitas said.
Both teams continue league play on the road next Saturday. Leilehua will visit John Kauinana Stadium for a Red Division game against No. 5 Mililani, while Kahuku heads to Raymond Torii Field for a Blue Division showdown against No. 6 Waianae.