Back to Back: Kahuku Red Raiders Crowned State Champs Again
By: Paul Brecht
MILILANI – The Kahuku Red Raiders took down the Punahou Buffanblu, 20-0, to claim the school’s second consecutive First Hawaiian Bank\HHSAA Open Division state championship.
It was the Red Raiders’ 10th state championship in program history
A star-studded Kahuku defensive unit led by University of Texas commit Liona Lefau once again put on a magnificent display against another powerhouse in No. 2 Punahou, who had just come off a 50-plus point scoring outburst in the state semifinals.
The Red Raider offense took over after an opening drive three-and-out from Punahou and immediately got the party started for the Red Wave in attendance. Kahuku used a 12-play, 68-yard drive (capped off by a 1-yard Waika Crawford run) to give Kahuku a 7-0 lead.
The Red Raiders would pull away from Punahou in the 2nd quarter, using the strong legs of junior running back Vaaimalae Fonoti to continue to dominate time of possession throughout the first half. University of Utah-bound wideout/kicker Kainoa Carvalho then helped Kahuku increase the lead to 17-0 heading into the break.
Kahuku’s defense would force four turnovers throughout the evening (three fumbles, one interception) as they kept a Buffanblu rushing attack that averaged almost 295 yards per contest this season to just 62 rushing yards.
The 20-0 final score served as some long-awaited redemption for the Red Raiders as it was the first shutout in the highest level of Hawaii-state championship football since 1999 when St. Louis shutout Kahuku, 19-0. (via Billy Hull/Twitter @billyhull)
Crawford ended the evening passing for 177 yards and running for 69 more to go along with a touchdown run and pass to cap off the senior quarterback’s high school career.
Fonoti tallied 113 yards on the ground on 23 carries for the Red Raiders. Carvalho finished his Kahuku career with seven catches for 79 yards and chipped in a pair of field goals from 21 and 40 yards.
Kahuku gets revenge on Mililani in 2023 First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Open Division Football state title
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