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Kahuku's Carvalho, Iolani's Tufono clutched up in big wins over the weekend

Kainoa Carvalho

Kahuku football  •   #11    

Kainoa Carvalho puts the ‘special' in special teams. 

The junior is an emerging star for the Kahuku football team and  wears a number of different hats for the fourth-ranked Red Raiders (2-0), but it's on kickoff return where he shines the brightest. 

Through his team's first two games of the season, Carvalho has found the end zone a team-leading five times, including three kickoff returns for touchdowns. Two of those came Saturday night in a 75-6 thumping of then-No. 10 Farrington at Edward ‘Skippa' Diaz Stadium at Kusunoki Field. 

"He just pops," Red Raiders coach Sterling Carvalho said of his nephew, who goes by the nickname ‘Kai-Kai.'

He is listed as being 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds on the official Kahuku roster. 

"Five-seven, that might be a stretch," coach Carvalho laughed. "He's the shortest guy on our team, but you wouldn't know it by the way he plays. I love the true story of Seabiscuit; he might be the smallest horse, but you put him up and up with anybody and he'll take them down. He's just so electric."

The younger Carvalho's first score against the Govs Saturday came on a 56-yard kickoff return that was on the heels of a safety for Kahuku. He then kicked the extra point — one of six he converted that day — to give the Red Raiders a 16-0 lead early in the first quarter. 

Kahuku built a 62-0 lead by halftime and added to it with Carvalho's 80-yard kickoff return for touchdown to start the second half. 

It didn't make for a happy uncle, however. 

"The second one I was very upset because I wanted my offense to get into the game. We only ran three offensive plays in the second half, so when he took the second one I was like, 'no, Kai-Kai, no!,' " coach Carvalho said. 

One of those three offensive plays in the second half was Kelsyn Tangaro-Kanoa's 67-yard touchdown run on the first play of a drive. It was Tangaro-Kanoa's only rush attempt of the game and one of only five all game for the Red Raiders. 

"I felt bad for my offense," said Sterling Carvalho, whose twin brother Stewart — Kainoa's father — coordinates the special teams.

"I gotta give credit to him, he does a great job in setting up the special teams," Sterling said. "We say, ‘everybody just do your job and if everybody does their job, Kai-Kai is gone.' So now they believe that if they do their job and make this block, we can get a touchdown — that's the buy-in right now — and with every kickoff and punt that we can take it to the house."

While Carvalho had hoped to get more second-half repetitions for his offense, he all but knew early on during Kainoa's second kickoff return that he would not be caught. 

"Once I saw that crease, I knew he was gone," he said. "I mean, that's Kai-Kai — he's dynamic, he has great vision, he sets up his blocks, he's patient, he trusts his teammates that they will give him a crease and when they do, he just explodes — it's almost eye-popping."

Kainoa Carvalho's special teams exploits have earned him another nickname: Kai-reek, an ode to the Kansas City Chief's star wide receiver and kick returner, Tyreek Hill. 

"That's what he's going by and he's just like that. He's so electric that when the ball is in his hands, you know something is going to happen. He's the smallest guy on the field, but he plays under the biggest lights and he just performs," coach Carvalho said. 

If not for an 11th-hour decision to stay at Kahuku, however, Kainoa Carvalho would have been in the middle of his second straight season of playing high school football in the state of Utah. After he played for the Red Raiders' JV squad as a freshman in 2019, Carvalho attended Skyridge High (Utah) for his sophomore year. 

He returned to Kahuku to play his junior season this fall, but when the state Department of Education announced a seven-week pause and subsequent vaccine or testing mandates, Carvalho opted to return to the Beehive State. 

"Truth be told, we almost lost him" Sterling Carvalho said of his nephew. "I had a team meeting the Monday after that announcement came out. Everybody thought it was going to be the same thing from last year — you know, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me kind of thing."

Kainoa Carvalho had booked a flight to go back to Utah that night. 

"We meet at 3 p.m. that day and I gave him the talk," his uncle said. "I told him that ‘I have been coaching for twenty years and I never did have the opportunity to coach my blood — you are my blood — I'm not saying I'm going to favor you, but I know what you're capable of doing.' "

Ultimately, Kai-Kai did not board that plane. 

"He texted me that night and said, ‘Uncle, I'm staying,' " coach Carvalho said.

The younger Carvalho made a pact with several other juniors — including standouts Brock Fonoimoana, Leonard Ah You and Leona Lefau — to remain Red Raiders. 

"Some of them were thinking of going and we were gonna lose some of our core players, but they decided, ‘no, they're gonna stay together,' and the chemistry from our first two games is apparent," Carvalho said. "Everybody is playing together and they want it. They made that decision to stay and they're making up for lost time and relishing the opportunity to stay and play together."

The prospective loss of Kainoa Carvalho would have certainly meant a big blow to the Red Raiders. Not only is he a kick returner and place kicker, Carvalho is also a starting receiver and can play running back. 

"I'm not saying in a way that's bias because he's my nephew, but he's irreplaceable because he plays in every aspect of our offense and also plays a big part of our special teams, so he's very hard to replace. Somebody will his skillset and talent, I mean, we lose a receiver, a slot, a running back — our scatback — our returner, we lose our home run hitter, so it would be a big loss," the elder Carvalho stated. 

It was Kainoa Carvalho's time at Skyridge that made him remember just how special Kahuku and the surrounding community is. 

"It made him realize obviously how much he missed Hawaii and he missed his boys here," coach Carvalho said. "Football in Utah and football in Hawaii is different — the atmosphere and all that — but the camaraderie of the boys, he missed playing alongside his brothers, as he would say."

Carvalho, who grew up playing soccer and gymnastics, has recorded 11 receptions for 164 yards this season. Against Kapolei in the season opener on Oct. 15, he caught touchdown passes of 6 and 8 yards, both in the second quarter — after he had already made a trip to the end zone with a 92-yard kickoff return late in the first. 

"I'd be surprised if from here on out anybody kicks to him," coach Carvalho said. "But with our team everybody loves special teams, they all want to play special teams. My brother (Stewart) rewards them with lunches, a plate lunch for each touchdown. I told him after this last game that he might as well take them to a buffet."

Still, there is room for growth, to be sure.

"Yeah, I mean, don't get me wrong, we still need to improve on some things and that's what we want. We don't want to be peaking at this time. We want to keep improving, keep our players humble and keep working because we know it's a long season and every team is gonna get better, so we just gotta make sure we keep getting better and improving," coach Carvalho said. 

Kahuku is averaging a whopping 58 points per game, but just 71 rushing yards. Instead of their annually vaunted run-heavy offense, the Red Raiders are throwing the ball this fall — a lot. They have thrown for 422 of their 574 total yards this season. Quarterback Jason Mariteragi has completed 75 percent of his pass attempts (27 of 36) for 400 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions. 

"If you notice with our offense, with Kai-Kai and Daniel Kaio, because of their skillset, it allows us to be as dynamic as we are and as balanced as we are compared to years past and along with the development of Jason Mariteragi, they're just playing lights out," Sterling Carvalho said. 

Kainoa Carvalho and the Red Raiders return to the gridiron when they visit Hugh Yoshida Stadium Saturday for a 6:30 p.m. game against Leilehua. 

Mokihana Tufono

Iolani volleyball  •   #11    

There is a certain joy that is on display when Mokihana Tufono plays the sport of volleyball. 

And the Iolani Raiders have surely been the benefactors of that. 

Tufono, a 5-foot-10 setter, and four-year starter for the Raiders is in the midst of stellar senior season this fall and has Iolani right in the mix for a league championship and state tournament berth. 

The Raiders (5-3) are tied for second place in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu heading into Tuesday, the final day of the league's triple-round robin first round, and coming off of a crucial five-set win over Kamehameha Friday. 

It was their first victory over the Warriors (5-3) in three tries this season and kept the Raiders within striking distance of first-place Punahou (6-2). 

"I would say being able to beat Kamehameha is never easy," Iolani coach Kainoa Obrey said. 

"The girls know how much preparation is involved in trying to be good in our league and not just be close, but we want to be able to win these matches and last Friday confirmed our belief that we can play at this level and we can turn around any game situation," Obrey added. 

Friday's situation looked a bit dire after the Warriors took the first two sets of the best-of-five match by scores of 25-15 and 25-19. 

"It wasn't too promising being down two-zero going into the third set, but the girls showed resiliency," Obrey said. 

That they certainly did. 

The Raiders stormed back to win the next three sets to complete the comeback, 25-19, 25-15 and 15-7. Tufono most definitely had a large hand in that, especially with her team playing without middle Mari Lawton and and outside hitter Brooke Naniseni. 

"I would say in the setting role, probably bettering pretty much every pass that was given," Obrey said when asked what impressed him most about Tufono's match. "She got it back in play to the right person with a good opportunity to either keep the ball in play or swing for a point."

Tufono finished with a season-high 47 assists to go with six kills, five digs, one block assist and an ace. 

"She was more offensive as an attacker in the setting position than she probably was in previous matches, which we want her to do and it definitely helps all of us on our side to just mix up where the ball is coming from, but that's all just volleyball-wise," Obrey said. 

He noted that it's between points where Tufono's effectiveness as a leader comes through the most. 

"I'm not in the little huddles she has with the girls in between points, but I can just see how much of her passion and belief just comes out and just is infectious to the other girls, that's probably the most impressive thing actually," Obrey expressed. "Her character and how she leads this team is probably what not many people see, but it's what we as a coaching staff see daily."

With both Lawton and Naniseni out for the match, the Raiders spread the sets around and the statistics reflected that. Pin hitters Senna Roberts-Navarro and Anuhea Hauanio-Lore recorded 20 kills apiece and middle Ambri Hanohano chipped in with nine kills. 

"Having two players with twenty kills says a lot," Obrey reiterated. "Ambri came in and did well, so Mokihana was able to spread the the ball between the two outsides and mixing in Ambri and calling her own number at times."

Libero Tessa Onaga posted a team-high 23 digs, Roberts-Navarro notched 10 digs, as did Ellie Asada and Kaliko Pei served up four of her team's seven aces. 

"We may have struggled a bit in the first two sets, but they definitely stuck to it and stayed mentally strong and stuck to it and they executed and performed and definitely helped us win, for sure," Obrey said. 

But at the end of the day, when it was all said and done, Obrey found that Tufono's effort and execution against Kamehameha was, well, like every other match. 

"To be perfectly honest, it's kind of the similar performance every time she plays," he stated. "She has the ability to make players around her better and that's kind of what you want out of your leader is can you make others around you better and, of course, in the setting position, taking tough passes and turning them around and getting them attackable for hitters."

Tufono played a pivotal role in lifting her team's morale after they dropped the second set Saturday. 

"She definitely rallied the girls between sets two and three and I was happy to see us come out strong in set three and we rode that momentum and she kind of carried us," Obrey said. "Mokihana keeps us steady and so her value in that match was more of the leadership that came through and just to be able to get the girls to say, ‘hey, let's do this,' is very special and you get that with those special players."

Very early on in her prep volleyball career, Tufono showed glimpses of brilliance — and versatility. As a freshman in 2018, she played right side hitter while senior Kristen McDaniel was the starting setter. Iolani won the Division I state championship that season and Tufono was selected to the all-tournament team at states. 

With the ILH utilizing a quadrant format in 2019, the Raiders did not qualify for the state tournament that year — when Tufono took over as the starting setter. There was no state tournament her junior year, 2019, due to the pandemic, but the ILH did have a truncated season in the spring; Iolani put together a 5-4 record. 

In her final go-around at Iolani this fall, the goal for Tufono is clear-cut: get back to states. 

"I think like most seniors they start to realize, I guess, for lack of a better phrase, time is running out on their high school careers, so generally you see a little more of a push to win the ILH or state championship, but the cool thing is she can back up her talk with a lot of her actions," Obrey said. 

"You see that in her preparation and how she plays the game that she wants that and I think it's infectious and definitely the other girls feel and want to be a part of that as well. Although it was a while ago now, she knows what it takes to get there and and she wants to help this group get there and I know she's putting her fullest effort into that," he added. 

Tufono's willingness to sacrifice for her team is a trait she carried since she began with the program four years ago. 

"Mokihana has always had energy, always had a lot of passion and always played with that. Even as a freshman, getting her to understand the system here and recognizing that, ‘even though I'm a setter I may be asked to do other things,' and that's just a testament to her character and her willingness to help her team in any way that she can," Obrey said. 

As far as leadership style, Tufono — a second-year captain, as one might expect — she is a ‘by-example' type, without question. 

"She's always willing to work, she absorbs information, takes ownership — she'll get on herself and pick it up — and she expects others to put that sort of effort into practice and it's definitely helped our gym. Now, as a senior, she's just another coach on the coach," Obrey said. "So the girls trust her, we trust her as a coaching staff and we just try to help guide that process and help her grow in that department, but a lot of it is innate with her, so we're lucky to have her and we're privileged to see her grow throughout the program with her volleyball and leadership."

Obrey has surely enjoyed coaching Tufono over the years, but he's also loved just getting to watch her play. 

"I would say if you imagine watching a volleyball player that just loves to play the game, that's Mokihana," he said. "Just pure enjoyment of being out there on the court with her teammates. She's very intense, very competitive, wants to win, tries to help her team win any way that she can. I mean, she's a lot of fun to watch play volleyball, for sure."

While Tufono thrives on the competition on the volleyball court, she is quite the compassionate individual off of it. 

"She'll know when the coaches birthdays are and celebrate the coaches and get the players to make sure they wish coach a happy birthday," Obrey said. 

He told the story of how Tufono thought up the idea of a team bonding activity on her own.  

"Our seniors missed their senior camp that the school holds, so because they missed the camp we tried to mimic that situation for our seniors, so we broke up into teams and did competitions like a three-legged race, kickball, dodgeball — that was her idea," Obrey said. "She's a great person, very mature and again, a great example of who we want our kids to be in our program and I just forward to so many more good things to happen for her."

The not-so-distant future will see Tufono play at UCLA next year. But that's a far-off thought for her at this point. 

"It's tremendous how much she wants this team to do well and wants this program to continue to do well. She puts in a lot of effort beyond just showing up for matches and practices. She's driven, but she knows how to have fun, too," Obrey said. 

The come-from-behind, five-set win over Kamehameha was important in regards to the ILH race, but also because it fortified the Raiders' self-confidence. 

"If we're in that spot again, we can call back to that situation, so learning from this experience definitely helps and moving forward it helps to know that on any given night, we can win these matches and it's just about who comes and executes, so we're stoked, we're happy we did that, but we know we have things ahead of us."

Tufono and the Raiders have a chance to force a three-way tie atop the ILH D1 standings — and a subsequent three-team playoff — with a win over Punahou Tuesday. 

First serve for that match is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Iolani's lower gym. 



Keahi Ah Sui, Nanakuli — Threw for 257 yards and three touchdowns on 13-of-19 passing without an interception in a win over Kalaheo

Kai Alip, Honokaa — Scored on a 62-yard fumble return in a loss to Hawaii Prep

Christian Asinsin, Nanakuli — Carried 17 times for 143 yards and a touchdown in a win over Kalaheo

Nitus Auelua, Kahuku — Scored on a 15-yard fumble return for touchdown in a win over Farrington

Jayce Bareng, Moanalua — Caught 10 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown in a win over Aiea

A.J. Bianco, Saint Louis — Threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns on 17-of-17 passing and ran nine times for 95 yards and two TDs in a win over Punahou

Jack Carlson, Radford — Caught eight passes for 112 yards and a touchdown in a win over Pearl City

Emmanuel Carter, Waianae — Caught five passes for 114 yards and a touchdown in a win over Leilehua

Kainoa Carvalho, Kahuku — Scored touchdowns on kickoff returns of 56 and 80 yards in a win over Farrington

Kainoa Ekolu, Hawaii Prep — Scored on a 2-yard fumble return for touchdown in a win over Honokaa

Kahekili Eleneke, Baldwin — Scored on a 15-yard fumble return for touchdown in a win over Kekaulike

Bishop Foumai, Aiea — Scored on a 33-yard interception return in a loss to Moanalua

Noah Grace, Kailua — Intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble in a loss to Waipahu

Joshiah Hoohuli, Keaau — Caught four passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Waiakea

Jakob Honda, Hawaii Prep — Carried 21 times for 139 yards and intercepted a pass in a win over Honokaa

Michael Iaulualo, Waipahu — Carried 28 times for 190 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 20 yards and a TD in a win over Kailua

Kamuela Kaaihue, Roosevelt — Scored on an 83-yard interception return for touchdown and caught five passes for 50 yards and a TD in a loss to Castle

Aizek Kaanoi, Saint Louis II — Caught eight passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Kamehameha II

Kawelu Kaiawe, Konawaena — Carried 26 times for 103 yards and caught three passes for 14 yards and a touchdown in a win over Hilo

Kealoha Kaio, Kahuku — Caught seven passes for 101 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Farrington

Alvin Kalahiki IV, Waianae — Intercepted two passes and returned one for a 37-yard touchdown in a win over Leilehua

David Kalili, Nanakuli — Caught six passes for 116 yards and a touchdown in a win over Kalaheo

Isaiah Kamoe, Waiakea — Recorded two interceptions in a loss to Keaau 

Justin Kanekoa, Kaiser — Caught five passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Waialua

Japheth Lilo, Kailua — Intercepted two passes and returned one 67 yards for a touchdown in a loss to Waipahu

Logan Lim, Kalani — Ran 10 times for 131 yards and a touchdown and threw for 136 yards and two TDs on 11-of-22 passing with two interceptions in a win over Kaimuki

Jason Mariteragi, Kahuku — Threw for 201 yards and three touchdowns on 12-of-16 passing without an interception in a win over Farrington

Aizek Mauka, Aiea — Scored on 20-yard interception return for touchdown and had two tackles for losses, one sack, a fumble recovery and a pass break-up in a loss to Moanalua

Makanalea Meyer, Mililani — Made five total tackles, including 1 1/2 for losses, intercepted a pass and ran for a touchdown in a win over Kapolei

Tarent Moniz-Babb, Waianae — Threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns on 17-of-21 passing with no interceptions in a win over Leilehua

Mason Muaau, Saint Louis — Caught three passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Punahou

Nainoa Nagum, Waianae — Scored on an 80-yard kickoff return for touchdown in a win over Leilehua

Josh Oh, Kalani — Carried 17 times for 129 yards and caught two passes for 53 yards and a touchdown in a win over Kaimuki

Christian Paleafei, Moanalua — Had two fumble recoveries and a sack in a win over Aiea

Dustin Pave, Waianae — Scored on a 40-yard interception return for touchdown in a win over Leilehua

Christian Payton, Radford — Carried 21 times for 145 yards and two touchdowns, caught two passes for 38 yards and another TD and had two kickoff returns for 60 yards in a win over Pearl City

Alvin Quisquirin-Sabagala, Waianae — Carried 15 times for 132 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Leilehua

Branztyn Reyes, Nanakuli — Scored on a 55-yard punt return for touchdown in a win over Kalaheo

Ryder Rodrigues, Kaiser — Carried 19 times for 150 yards in a win over Waialua

Kamaehu Roman, Mililani — Made eight total tackles, four for losses and three sacks in a win over Kapolei

Jaron-Keawe Sagapolutele, Saint Louis II — Threw for 320 yards and five touchdowns on 21-of-31 passing with two interceptions in a win over Kamehameha II

Onosai Salanoa, Saint Louis II — Caught seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Kamehameha II

Masen Silva, Keaau — Caught three passes for 110 yards and a touchdown in a win over Waiakea

Josiah Sui, Kahuku — Scored on a 23-yard interception return for touchdown in a win over Farrington

Coby Tanioka, Castle — Scored on a 91-yard kickoff return for touchdown, carried four times for 25 yards and a TD, intercepted a pass and forced a fumble in a win over Roosevelt

Kalob Victorino-Avilla, Radford — Threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns on 21-of-35 passing with one interception and ran seven times for 32 yards and a TD in a win over Radford 

Easton Yoshino, Kaiser — Threw for 245 yards and four touchdowns on 14-of-25 passing with one interception in a win over Waialua


Leina Chu, Hawaii Baptist — Had 30 assists in a four-set loss to Le Jardin

Reese Diersbock, Le Jardin — Had 24 kills and two aces in a four-set win over Hawaii Baptist

Grace Fiaseu, Punahou — Had 10 kills, two solo blocks and three block assists in a five-set loss to Kamehameha

Anuhea Hauanio-Lore, Iolani — Had 20 kills and a block assist in a five-set win over Kamehameha

Gennezia Hawkins, Le Jardin — Had 49 assists, one kill and an ace in a four-set win over Hawaii Baptist

Devin Kahahawai, Kamehameha — Had 33 kills, one block assist and an assist in a five-set win over Punahou

Hailey Kauweloa, Nanakuli — Had 12 kills, 12 digs, five assists, two aces and one block assist in a four-set win over Radford and had 12 kills, seven digs, three aces and a block assist in a four-set win over Waipahu

Ana Lii, Aiea — Had 12 digs and two kills in a three-set loss to Mililani

Marley Matautia, Nanakuli — Had 10 kills, 15 digs and one ace in a four-set win over Radford and had 10 kills, seven digs, one block assist and an ace in a four-set win over Waipahu

Jaclyn Matias, Punahou — Had 41 assists, two kills and one ace in a five-set loss to Kamehameha

Melene Matautia, Nanakuli — Had 35 assists, 14 digs and eight kills in a four-set win over Radford

Marisa Nakata, Hawaii Baptist — Had 11 kills, four aces and a block assist in a four-set loss to Le Jardin

Tessa Onaga, Iolani — Had 23 digs, four assists and an ace in a five-set win over Kamehameha

Senna Roberts-Navarro, Iolani — Had 20 kills, 10 digs, one block assist and an assist in a five-set win over Kamehameha

Mokihana Tufono, Iolani — Had 47 assists, six kills, five digs, one block assist and an ace in a five-set win over Kamehameha

Lulu Uluave, Punahou — Had 13 kills and two block assists in a five-set loss to Kamehameha

Sydnee Walker, Le Jardin — Had 22 kills in a four-set win over Hawaii Baptist 

Lucky-Rose Williams, Punahou — Had 19 kills, one ace and a block assist in a five-set loss to Kamehameha

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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