Saturday, November 19, 2022
By: Wes Nakama
MILILANI — With its offense having a rare average night, Kahuku’s defense came up with three pick-6’s Friday to help the Red Raiders derail Campbell, 32-6, in the First Hawaiian Bank Open Division Football State Semifinals at John Kauinana Stadium.
The victory improved the defending champion Red Raiders to 11-2 and earned them a return trip to the title game against Punahou, which is set for 7 p.m. Nov. 25 at Kauinana Stadium. Campbell’s season ends at 7-4 with a fourth straight semifinal loss, including three straight to Kahuku.
“Our special teams and our defense came out to play tonight,” Red Raiders coach Sterling Carvalho said. “A lot of our athletes are on that side of the ball (defense), and tonight you could see it, they just made plays when we needed them to make plays.”
Kahuku got on the board first with slotback Manulele Ah You’s 30-yard touchdown scamper on a reverse toss with 4:11 remaining in the first quarter, but only after a chop-block penalty gave the Red Raiders a first down when they appeared to have been stopped on third-and-2. Kaikai Carvalho’s extra point made it 7-0.
Kahuku did not score again until 3:43 left in the second quarter, on Carvalho’s 33-yard field goal, after the Red Raiders recovered their own fumble on third-and-goal.
Those 10 points would be the only ones surrendered by the Sabers defense.
“Everybody did their job, we haven’t had that all year, we had more individual play,” Campbell coach Darren Johnson said. “We had team play tonight.”
Sterling Carvalho said Kahuku did not help itself on offense.
“Dropped passes, some penalties impeded our drives,” he said. “Offensively, we gotta finish, we cannot let certain things impede our drives. We cannot have that, especially next week in the championship game. That’s what messed us up tonight, and we just gotta make sure we execute next week, when it counts.”
The Red Raiders impeded the Sabers’ late first-half drive after Campbell advanced to the Kahuku 30-yard line. Quarterback Jaron-Keawe Sagapolutele was sacked for a big loss, and then threw an interception to linebacker Faleali’i Atuaia, who returned it 55 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. Kaikai Carvalho’s extra point made it 17-0 with 1:43 remaining, and that’s how it stood at halftime.
The Sabers advanced to near midfield late in the third quarter, but defensive back Madden Soliai made an interception at the 50 and returned it all the way to the house to help Kahuku stretch the lead to 24-0 with 3:50 left in the third quarter.
The Red Raiders then effectively sealed the victory with defensive back Aiden Manutai’s 15-yard pick-6 just 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, followed by holder Mana Carvalho’s two-point conversion run on a fake extra point attempt to make it 32-0.
All three pick-6’s were made by underclassmen — Atuaia and Manutai are sophomores, and Soliai is a freshman.
Sagapolutele, a highly touted sophomore who is regarded as one of the state’s top quarterbacks, finished with 23 completions in 46 attempts for 231 yards, with four interceptions.
“They were able to move the ball, but when push came to shove, our defense bent, but didn’t break,” Sterling Carvalho said. “We did film study, and we have great athletes … You never see a defense like our Kahuku defense, you don’t realize how big and fast we are, until you play us. Our defense is the real deal.”
Photos by: Lori McKeown
Photos by: Grant Shishido
Mahalo to the these sponsors for supporting our 2022 High School Football content.