Kahuku will throw


POSTED: Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Kahuku Red Raiders are thinking outside the box.

The I-formation power running game — rooted in the 1970s Red Raiders — hasn't been forgotten. It's just been joined by a multitude of new sets and plays in the playbook. That's what happened when coach Reggie Torres moved defensive assistant coach Walter Santiago to offensive coordinator.

Santiago has Kahuku's offense, with returnee Sage Kaka at quarterback and three returning starters up front, lining up in shotgun spread and pistol formations.

Will all the newfangled stuff stick?

“;If it works, it'll be better for us,”; said Torres, who guided Kahuku to the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference title last season. “;We'll be more diverse. We won't be one-dimensional. Our kids can grasp it.”;





        With the high school football season approaching, the Star-Bulletin is counting down its preseason Top 10:

        10. Waianae

        9. 'Iolani

        8. Mililani

        7. Kapolei

        6. Kamehameha

        5. Farrington

        4. Punahou

        3. Kahuku

        2. Tomorrow

        1. Friday

Unlike the O-line of two years ago, which had major size and strength, the blockers of this fall are smaller, but up to the task after a summer of disciplined training.

Air Kahuku? Maybe. The Red Raiders had a pass-league team this summer for the first time in recent history.

Torres expects parity throughout the OIA.

“;There are so many good teams this year. Every week is going to be a battle. Whoever wins the state championship, I don't think they'll be undefeated. There are four to five good teams in each division. Just winning the East or the West is going to be a battle.”;

The Red Raiders, who fell to Leilehua in the semifinals of the state tourney last year (17-10 in overtime), are No. 3 in the Star-Bulletin Preseason Football Top 10.

2008: 10-2 (9-0 OIA Red).

On paper: With just four starters back on each side of the ball, there would seem to be plenty of voids to fill. However, those numbers are slightly misleading; a large number of new starters saw extensive playing time a year ago.







Aug. 15Kealakehe***
Aug. 22Punahou*
Aug. 29at Kailua
Sept. 4Roosevelt
Sept. 18McKinley
Sept. 25Kaimuki
Oct. 2Farrington**
Oct. 10at Castle

        *-at Aloha Stadium

        **-at Roosevelt High

        ***-at Castle High

2008 (10-2)

        » Kamehameha 35, Kahuku 0

        » Kahuku 30, Kealakehe 0

        » Kahuku 28, Kailua 14

        » Kahuku 28, Roosevelt 0

        » Kahuku 30, McKinley 6

        » Kahuku 10, Kaimuki 7

        » Kahuku 13, Farrington 6

        » Kahuku 35, Castle 20


        2008 postseason

        » Kahuku 42, Mililani 13

        » Kahuku 12, Waianae 7

        » Kahuku 22, Farrington 19

        » Leilehua 17, Kahuku 10

The O-line has stout talent in right tackle Jamal Napeahi (6-foot-2, 260), right guard Kamalani Aalona (5-11, 250) and center Jase Toomalatai (6-1, 260). Napeahi and Aalona are only juniors.

“;They had a great offseason in the weight room and they got faster,”; Torres said.

Their leadership will help the transition to the new offense. Kaka, last year's backup quarterback, started in a scrimmage at Mililani on Saturday. He's in a battle for the starting job with Evan Moe.

Vili Pasi returns as the No. 1 running back after seeing time as a reserve last season. It's quite a change to see Kahuku line up in empty-backfield sets, but the pistol sets should give Pasi familiar holes and angles. Kahuku lines the running back up nine yards behind center in the pistol, sometimes behind a fullback.

The wide receiver corps is unproven, but promising. Punga Vea (6-0, 170) is a speedster who reminds Torres of Redmond Tutor, a former standout pass catcher. Mua Malufau, also a junior, will see time at slotback and running back, a playmaker on underneath routes.

The strength of the team is the defensive line, six deep. Hauoli Jamora, who added 20 pounds through weight training, and Kona Schwenke were outstanding against Mililani. Jamora had two sacks and Schwenke, coming off the flu, had one. Just two days earlier, Mililani's line had more success against Kamehameha.

Both have already committed to BYU.

Ben Mamea returns to solidify the linebacker crew.

The skinny: Major losses to the secondary are a concern. All-State defensive backs Jray Galeai (BYU) and Aulola Tonga (Hawaii) graduated, along with Kamalani Alo (Hawaii) and Irwin Ah-Hoy.

Installing a 4-3 set as a base to replace last year's 3-4 gives Kahuku's down linemen a chance to control the line of scrimmage. The change will also give the secondary time to learn on the job. Cornerback Kaweihena Johnson, son of former player Darren Johnson, is proving to be reliable. Out of the 3-man front, usually against shotgun offenses, Kahuku's speed off the edge from blitzing linebackers and DBs could be formidable, as it sometimes was against Mililani.

The new offensive sets look workable, but if they ever hit full throttle — a combination of power running and run-and-shoot elements — it could be a punishing weapon.

X factor: The graduation of St. John Lessary III left the Red Raiders without a reliable kicker and punter. Newcomer Cameron Mercado arrived from Florida and has accuracy, though not the hang time that Lessary provided. His consistency will be crucial for a program that has often struggled over the years with PATs and field goals.