Red Raiders again team to topple
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
What happened to the Kahuku High School football team up in Salt Lake City 10 days ago is but a distant memory to O'ahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference East Division foes.
The more lasting impression is what the defending state champion Red Raiders did to perennial power Saint Louis on Saturday. They dominated the Crusaders like few Hawai'i teams have in a stunning 37-17 nonleague victory.
The performance erased any doubts caused by Kahuku's humbling 27-8 loss to Skyline (Salt Lake City) on Aug. 22.
"They've got so many weapons," Castle coach Nelson Maeda said of the Red Raiders.
Fumbles continue to be a problem for Kahuku: they coughed up the ball nine times against Skyline, losing eight, and fumbled eight times against Saint Louis, losing six.
But Kahuku appeared to be running smoothly on all other cylinders Saturday. It ran for 280 yards, threw for 196 and held Saint Louis to 51 yards rushing.
Red Raiders coach Siuaki Livai said a big difference was Kahuku's mental approach.
"There was a lot of pressure on us (in Utah) representing Hawai'i as the state champion, and we didn't play well," Livai said. "We feel more comfortable at home. There's less pressure here."
Instead, the pressure is on the other teams to stop Kahuku.
Kailua came close last year, losing 6-0 in the OIA championship game on a touchdown with 19 seconds left. The Surfriders return a potent running back tandem in Kekoa Su'a and Damien Torres, who combined for 2,200 yards rushing in 2003.
Castle returns one of the state's top linebackers in Blaze Soares, but lost starting quarterback Bryce Kalauoka'aea for the season when he tore an anterior cruciate ligament Friday.
McKinley has developed an effective passing game behind new quarterback Robin Pau, but like most Red East teams, is rebuilding with many first-time starters.
Farrington and Kaimuki are awaiting the return of several starters on academic probation, and Roosevelt is working behind a young and thin offensive line.
Reach Wes Nakama at firstname.lastname@example.org or 535-2456.