Kahuku blanks Campbell to reach Open Division state final


Sat, Dec 18, 2021 @ Farrington [ 4:00 pm ]

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CAMP(5-4-0) 0 0 0 00
KAH(10-0-0) 7 7 0 721

KALIHI — Jason Mariteragi threw two touchdown passes and ran in another score to lead top-ranked Kahuku to a 21-0 win over No. 5 Campbell in the semifinal round of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Open Division State Championships Saturday. 

The Red Raiders, the No. 1 seed in the four-team state tournament, improved to 9-0 with the victory, which propelled them into Thursday's title game, where they will meet second-ranked and second-seeded Saint Louis, the reigning four-time state champion. 

The Sabers, who were coming off of a 33-14 win over Waianae in the Oahu Interscholastic Association third-place game a week prior, suffered their fourth loss in five games and saw their season end with a record of 5-4.

Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho said the gusty and wet conditions dictated his team's offensive gameplan against Campbell. 

"With this wind we just wanted to just grind the clock, get out of here — it's a very short week next week, right? — so we just wanted to get some long drives," he said. 

The game plan led to a huge first-half disparity in time of possession, which leaned heavily the way of the Red Raiders. 

"Our defense only played like twenty plays in the first half — they hardly were on the field — so we just wanted to control the clock, let the time run and on a short week, just get out of here," Carvalho added. 

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Kahuku received the opening kickoff and marched 80 yards in just five plays, capped by Mariteragi's 14-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Kainoa Carvalho. 

Mariteragi called his own number when he scrambled into the end zone from six yards out on the first play of the second quarter. The touchdown culminated a 13-play, 83-yard drive that took nearly seven minutes off the clock. 

"It's good to control the ball, control the clock," Sterling Carvalho reiterated. "We know that if we have the ball, (the opponent) cannot score and as we go to thirteen plays and a drive like that, you know, a lot of time is being run off the clock, so that was our goal tonight: to just control the ball, control the tempo, control the pace of the game."

After a scoreless third quarter, Kahuku closed out the scoring with a 7-yard TD pass from Mariteragi to Daniel Kaio with 8:58 left to play. 

Mariteragi, who missed some time lately due to a shoulder injury, finished 12-of-15 passing for 115 yards and no interceptions. 

"Jason did really good," Sterling Carvalho said of Mariteragi, who shared time with his back-up, Waika Crawford, Saturday. "He's getting stronger and so we just kind of wanted to get both (quarterbacks) in there tonight, just because we know on Thursday we're gonna need both."

Campbell was held to 133 yards of total offense, including only 35 rushing; it averaged only 1.5 yards per rush and was 3 of 12 on third downs. 

Kruze Keanu had 5 1/2 tackles and two sacks for the Kahuku defense. 

"The defense just played solid defense," Sterling Carvalho said. 

He elaborated on his direction to the unit: " 'Execute, don't give up any big plays' and that's what happened. Campbell was able to move the ball once in a while, but they wasn't able to score, so our defense just had to play assignment football and execute."

Whereas the Sabers managed 23 points against the Red Raiders when the teams met two days after Thanksgiving to close out the regular season, they were shut out for the first time all year Saturday. Kahuku's 21 points scored was its lowest scoring output this season. 

"Campbell's tough, Campbell's always tough," coach Carvalho said. "They're gonna stick around and they got nothing to lose, so they just came out tonight and they was playing downhill, so hats off to them; they did good."

Tysic Puni tallied eight tackles, including two for losses and Kama Espinda had seven tackles for the Sabers defensively. 

Kahuku finished with 334 yards of total offense with an exact 50-50 split between pass yards and rush yards. Kainoa Carvalho recorded nine catches for 100 yards; it was the fifth consecutive game that he eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards. 

The Red Raiders will have a chance to dethrone the four-time Open Division champion Crusaders if they can capture their first state crown since 2015 when the teams play Thursday at Farrington's Edward ‘Skippa' Diaz Stadium at Kusunoki Field. 

"I mean, this is what we wanted," Sterling Carvalho said. "From day one, this was our goal — it wasn't the OIA championship, it was the state championship. We got here, now we just gotta finish; that's all we gotta do, finish now."

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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