Sterling Carvalho, shows enthusiasm as new Kahuku head coach


New Kahuku head coach Sterling Carvalho provided instructions during a scrimmage against Waipahu.

So far, Sterling Carvalho is showing what he is made of as an enthusiastic leader.

And the fun is just beginning. Not that being the head coach of the Kahuku football team is all fun and games. There’s high pressure — and headaches — involved in carrying the banner for the heralded program.

But Carvalho doing his thing is something to see. He is quick to show his players a better way to do something, and he does it with a smile and intense, youthful passion. It was hard to tell who was having more fun, the Red Raiders players or Carvalho, during last week’s scrimmage against Waipahu.

But don’t let the amiability fool you into thinking he’s not tough. He led the JV team to big-time success the past few seasons and has soaked in all of the knowledge of his many recent predecessors at Kahuku — including Reggie Torres, Vavae Tata and Makoa Freitas. As a player in the early 1990s, he was the quarterback of a high-powered Kauai High offense that put a damper on Waimea’s dominance with a KIF title won in overtime. Back then, he succeeded more because of leadership skills and a can-do attitude than his accurate arm and escapability.

Now, Carvalho faces his hardest test yet. Coaches, even winning ones, don’t stick like glue at Kahuku. The famous “Red Raiders for Life” slogan could get an addendum: “And a mentor for as long as they’ll have me.”

So now it’s time to get on with his first season, knowing that anything less than an Open Division state championship won’t be quite enough. The past two years, the Red Raiders lost to Saint Louis in the title game.


Kahuku’s Thorton Alapa, above, and Robbie Sauvao will handle quarterback duties in place of the departed Sol-Jay Maiava.

For sure, there are enough pieces to get it done. It’s just a matter of can they or not. Cake-walk regular seasons may have helped in the past, but that era is gone. A grueling regular season in the new Open Division of the OIA-ILH alliance makes things more of “last man standing” kind of thing. How will Kahuku — or any of the teams in the division — fare with no easy opponents on the slate? Conditioning, more than ever, will play a role.

“We’re expecting great competition,” Carvalho said. “We’re going to be playing the best teams week in, week out. No easy games. The state is excited. All of the teams and players are excited for it. It’s going to be a matter of who wants it week in and week out.”

Even though Kahuku came out throwing on nearly every down in the scrimmage at Waipahu, it would be a mistake to think that opponents won’t get a regular diet of bruising and shifty running backs. Wes Alo-Maiava ran for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play.

Thorton Alapa and Robbie Sauvao are there to handle the quarterback duties in place of the departed Sol-Jay Maiava. Both played an equal amount against Waipahu. Carvalho, it appears, is still waiting to unleash his stable of running backs. Duke Heffernan, Ikaika Wells and Kamuela Miller are some of the likely passing targets in front of a line led by Enokk Vimahi and Marcus Lombard. Alapa is also a skilled receiver, and Heffernan is a reliable kicker.


Kahuku’s Robert Sauvao (23) eludes a rush during a preseason game between the Kahuku Red Raiders and the Waipahu Marauders played on Friday, July 27, 2018 at Waipahu High School Stadium, Waipahu, Hawaii.

Linebacker Miki Ah You will lead the veteran-oriented defense, along with ends Tausili Fiatoa and Tuia Tupuola and defensive back Kaonohi Kaniho. A few weeks ago, Ah You said he is committed to making this the school’s best defense ever. That would be a major accomplishment (especially against a more difficult schedule) since Tata’s crew in 2016 yielded just 6.1 points per game and pitched six shutouts.

“It’s a tough job,” Carvalho admitted. “What helps is I have great coaches and great kids. Having them makes it easy for me. We’re working to get better. That was the goal of our summer camp. We practice to get better. I like the morale of our team. Everyone is cheering for everyone. We want to be close as a team.”

Kahuku Red Raiders

>> Head coach: Sterling Carvalho, first season, 0-0 (.000)

>> Last year: 11-2, 7-0 OIA Blue, OIA champion, Open Division state final (runner-up)

2018 schedule

Date Team Time

8/4 Konawaena 6 p.m.

8/11 Punahou 6:30 p.m.

8/17 at Waianae 7:30 p.m.

8/24 Kapolei 7:30 p.m.

9/7 Saint Louis* 7:30 p.m.

9/14 Kamehameha 7:30 p.m.

9/29 Mililani 6:30 p.m.

10/6 at Campbell 6:30 p.m.

10/12 at Farrington 7:30 p.m.

* — at Aloha Stadium

Sterling Carvalho, shows enthusiasm

as new Kahuku head coach

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