Kahuku crushes Campbell’s hopes to win OIA Blue title
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
Kahuku back Enoch Nawahine leaped into an opening against Campbell in Friday’s OIA Blue clinching game.
Any thoughts of putting their hands on an Oahu Interscholastic Association Blue championship vanished quickly for the No. 7 Campbell Sabers on Friday night. Not with No. 2 Kahuku in town.
The Red Raiders (7-1, 7-0) took control early to ruin the Sabers’ homecoming night with a 45-6 victory that put a ribbon and a bow on the Blue title for the visitors.
Despite an on-and-off offense, it was a pretty complete game for Kahuku, which also clinched a bye for the first round of the OIA playoffs and will aim to take back the Open Division state title it relinquished to Saint Louis a year ago.
“The defense played well, the special teams played well,” Kahuku coach Makoa Freitas said. “Offensively, we still have to play better. We do (have the division title), but if we want to make a run in the playoffs, we have to play better on offense.”
The Red Raiders turned the ball over five times, but it only bit them once. The hard-hitting, stingy Kahuku defense had its hand prints all over the team’s first three touchdowns. A heavy rush and a high snap forced Sabers punter Tasi Faumui to scramble out of the end zone, and he only got to the 1. On the next play, a fumbled snap by the Red Raiders rolled into the end zone, where Kahuku’s Trycen Mau jumped on it for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Nalu Emerson had a hand in the next two Kahuku touchdowns. His fumble recovery after a pooch kick led to another Red Raiders jolt. This time, quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava found room on the right side and scored from 9 yards out for a 14-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Emerson’s 21-yard interception return gave Kahuku its biggest lead to that point, 21-6. That came after Campbell got on the scoreboard, via Pokii Adkins-Kupukaa’s 38-yard fumble recovery TD return.
“Kahuku’s still the best team in the OIA, right?” Campbell coach Darren Johnson asked. “We’ve gotta get better. We want to get where they’re at, so we gotta make some changes and change the culture over here and get our kids to work a little harder. Too many mistakes against a team like Kahuku. And we should have capitalized on their mistakes.”
Emerson put the finishing touches on the victory in the fourth quarter, with his second touchdown of the night on a 75-yard interception return of a Krenston Kaipo pass.
“We had a good game plan (against) Coach DJ (Johnson),” Emerson said.
“We knew they were going to come out with a bang and we knew they were going to bring it. So Coach Makoa told us that we gotta go out and shut ’em out.”
Added Freitas, “We basically shut them out. Those six points were against our offense.”
Duke Heffernan also had a big night for the Red Raiders. He kicked a 20-yard field goal and six extra points and also hauled in a 31-yard TD pass from Maiava.