It's a long way from the corner of Kapiolani and Pensacola to the Kahuku High School campus, and David Tanuvasa is aware of that.
Dream game pitsBy Pat Bigold
When the former University of Hawaii lineman took over the McKinley High School football program six years ago, Tanuvasa said his goal was to get the program back on its feet. Playing Kahuku some day was a distant dream.
Now it's a dream come true.
McKinley travels to the North Shore Friday night to play the Red Raiders for the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Conference championship. Both teams are 5-0.
For Kahuku head coach Siuaki Livai, reaching the conference title game was a must.
"We didn't want to look past any team during the season, but it was very tempting to think about playing McKinley," Livai said.
Last year, Livai inheriting a young team from Doug Semones, who left for the University of Hawaii coaching staff after leading the Red Raiders to three consecutive OIA titles.
Kahuku fell from the Red Conference to the White, but will return to the Red Conference next season.
The Tigers and Red Raiders are 1-2 in team offense and team defense in the White. But Tanuvasa said he thinks Kahuku has the best offensive line in the conference.
"Size wise, we match up with them on defense," he said. "And we'll rotate things to cause mismatches and get the best out of our players.
"We met from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday trying to figure out how to stop them. And we've met for hours each day this week."
Hausia Faleofa, who averages six yards a carry, is the key to the Red Raiders' running game, which is tops in the conference. McKinley quarterback Charley Napolu is one of the conference's top two passers.
"I think these guys could really be intimidating at times," Livai said, referring to McKinley linemen like 6-foot-3, 260-pound Aukuso Tuiolemotu and 6-foot-5, 278-pound Francis (Sammy) Silva.
"Defensively, we need to give pressure up front because they throw short stuff. But we had St. Louis, Punahou and Kaiser all in a row to start the season so you can't ask for more passing than that."
The game is Kahuku's homecoming.
"We're telling our kids they can't get caught up in it," he said. "If you do, you're going to lose your focus."
RED UP IN AIR: Waianae's Red Conference crown is up for grabs Friday when the Seariders (4-1) host Waipahu (3-2) and Farrington (2-2-1) travels to Campbell (4-1).
After their upset at Waianae Friday, the Sabers can clinch the top seed in the Red standings with a win. But if Campbell loses and Waianae wins, the Seariders will retain the championship.