Chase for the Championship
No. 2 Kahuku, No. 6 Waianae to keep game grounded

No surprises here.

In what is expected to be football game at its most basic form, Waianae and Kahuku will meet in Friday's semifinal of the First Hawaiian Bank Division I state football tournament, 4:30 p.m. at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium.

Offensively, the Seariders and Red Raiders know what will be coming from the other:  a steady dose of the running game. No surprises, just old-fashion execution of smashball.

"The team that executes the best is going to be the team that comes out on top," Waianae coach Walter Young said.

"It all comes down to who's playing at the highest level," Kahuku coach Vavae Tata said.

Both Oahu Interscholastic Association teams are among the four survivors in Division I because of the run.  The quarterbacks in the other semifinal – Mililani's McKenzie Milton and Saint Louis' Tua Tagovailoa – are dynamic because of their combination of running and passing. Waianae QB Jaren Ulu primarily hands off the ball, or deftly faking it. Kahuku? It doesn't even use a QB. Most of the time, it's Kesi Ah-Hoy, or otherwise Harmon Brown and Sefa Ameperosa, serving as wildcats.

The No. 2 Red Raiders (11-0) beat the No. 6 Seariders (9-3), 30-0, during the regular season. Kahuku rushed the ball 42 times for 259 yards and passed the ball three times for 25 yards. Waianae rushed 33 times for 48 yards. It threw the ball 14 times for 22 yards.

"They were successful with their game plan against us so, you know what they're going to do," Young said. "I'm sure they're going to come out and adjust as needed.

We have to make sure we cover all our bases. If they're not successful with what they're doing, they're going to adjust, so we have to be ready to adjust just as they adjust."

Despite, the lopsided win, Tata said that was the past.

"We approach this week like it's a brand-new opponent, so we're not looking back to the game that we played three, four weeks ago," Tata said. "We're not looking at that team; we're looking a whole new team. At this stage of the season, everything is at stake. It's win or go home. We know Waianae is going to come with their ‘A' game, so we have to come with our ‘A' game. They're going to throw everything at us so we have to be ready for everything. Like I said, it's do or die."

Kahuku has numerous weapons on both sides of the ball, but its special teams might have an edge. Keala Santiago, who anchors the defensive secondary, is a threat on kick returns. Kekoa Sasaoka kicks off touchbacks, boots long field goals and punts with accuracy, giving opponents poor field position.

"Amazing, their special teams," Young said of Kahuku. "That kicker (Sasaoka) can change field position by himself. They have a lot of weapons, so we have to come out ready."

Although Kahuku's record is perfect, the Red Raiders have yet to play that "perfect game," or one with perfect execution and limited penalties. In its last meeting with Waianae, the Red Raiders were tagged 18 times for 154 yards.

"We've been hit with a lot of penalties," Tata said. "I'm looking for a game where we play a complete game in all three phases in the game."

As the top seed, Kahuku is coming off a bye and used the time to heal wounds.

WHAT: 17th Annual First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division I Football State Championships, semifinals
WHO: Waianae Seariders (9-3/OIA third place) vs. Kahuku Red Raiders (11-0/OIA champion)
WHEN: Friday, 4:30 p.m.
WHERE: Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium
TICKETS: Adults $9, students (grades K-12) $5, seniors (62-and-over w/ID) $5
PARKING: $3 (no tailgating permitted)
STATE TOURNAMENT HISTORY—Waianae: seventh appearance (1999–2000, 2005 2007,  2010, 2015) , 7-6 all-time, 1-4 semifinals. Kahuku: 13th appearance (1999 – 2001, 2003-2006, 2008–2009, 2011-2012, 2014-2015), 21-5 all-time, 9-3 in semifinals.

Waianae advanced to the semifinals by ousting Baldwin, 21-6, last week. 

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at [email protected].

Show your support

Every contribution, no matter the size, will help ScoringLive continue its mission to provide the best and most comprehensive coverage of high school sports in the state of Hawaii and beyond.

Please consider making a contribution today.



Mid-Pacific halts two-game skid with straight set win over Damien

Three Owls' hitters notched eight kills in a 25-23, 25-21, 25-19 win on the road over the Monarchs.

Roosevelt overcomes rough first half to rally past Kalaheo

Taimane Souza-Fautanu threw a touchdown pass and ran for two other scores to help the Rough Riders turn...

Stephens balling out for Marauders; Kirkham leading leveling up of Na Pueo

The senior WR had four touchdown receptions in Waipahu's win over Waianae Friday, the same night that...

Maui pulls away from Baldwin to pick up first win

Ofa Falekaono was one of three Sabers with a rush TD and his pick-six in the fourth sparked Maui to their...

Kahuku stuns nationally-ranked St. John Bosco with late touchdown

Tuli Tagovailoa-Amosa ran for an 18-yard touchdown with 23 seconds left to help the Red Raiders rally...

No. 4 Campbell overcomes early deficit to stun second-ranked Punahou

Jaron Sagapolutele led the way as the Sabers scored 24 unanswered in the third quarter to pull away from...