Sunday, December 2, 2001
[ PREP FOOTBALL ]
Last year it was for underdogs everywhere. This time it was for the community and the team -- and validation.
By Dave Reardon
Kahuku beat St. Louis 21-14 on Saturday night at Aloha Stadium for the Red Raiders' second-consecutive high school state football championship victory over the Crusaders.
Kahuku's win last season over St. Louis -- the first victory in a final for a public school team in 16 years -- touched off a statewide warm-and-fuzzy feeling and a huge celebration on the North Shore that lasted for days. The win was perceived by some as a major upset because of St. Louis' domination of Hawaii high school football for more than a decade.
But it really wasn't, as the Red Raiders have always fielded one of the state's most talented teams.
Now the Red Raiders have proved to all they truly belong at the top, something their many fans already knew.
"This was for the people of Kahuku," said coach Siuaki Livai, who once again pointed to the community's support as a big factor in the Red Raiders' success. "The drive from Kahuku to Kaaawa (on the way to the stadium Saturday) was packed. There wasn't an empty spot on the side of the road the whole way. Signs and everything."
Just like last year.
While the first championship will always be the biggest, Red Raider defensive coordinator Byron Beatty said the second is important, too.
"As far as a coaching staff and a program, this made it legitimate," said Beatty, a former Kahuku linebacker. "A lot of people thought last year was a fluke."
Dominating the line of scrimmage on offense and defense doesn't happen by chance. The Red Raiders' muscle up front helped spring Mulivai Pula and Inoke Funaki for big gains, and shut down the Crusaders' offense.
Once again, Beatty deserves a lot of credit for developing the defensive game plan to stop St. Louis' dangerous run-and-shoot attack.
"We took the same approach as last year -- mix the defenses up and keep them guessing as to what we were doing. A lot of different looks," Beatty said. "We told the kids during the week if we took the run out of the run-and-shoot we could win again. Once we took the run away we could put pressure on (St. Louis quarterback Bobby) George."
That's the way it happened, as Pula rushed for 212 yards and two touchdowns and Funaki for 105 yards and a score while the Crusaders mustered a meager 26 yards on the ground.
With Kahuku linebacker Darrell Tachibana and others holding St. Louis' rushing attack in check, defensive end Jonathan Mapu harassed George throughout the game.
"Their defense played very well. ... We couldn't keep them out of our backfield," St. Louis coach Cal Lee said. "Congratulations to Kahuku, because they deserve it."
The Red Raiders' unheralded secondary also came up big, as corners Trumaine Oto and George Perry and safeties Viliami Nauahi and Sola Soliai limited the Crusaders to 188 yards on 39 passing attempts.
"They did a great job," Beatty said. "Our DB coaches, Keala Santiago, Sean Makiau and Feso Malufau really prepared them well and we kind of mixed it up, showing some man and zone. When we watched Kailua play St. Louis it looked like they sat in one coverage. If you do that eventually (St. Louis) coach Cal (Lee) and them will figure it out and kill you."
Just a few hours after passing their biggest test on the field, some of the Kahuku players had another very important one of a different kind yesterday morning.
"They took their SATs this morning," Beatty said. "So we held off the parade until 3 p.m."
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