In the last eleven months, Kahuku has lost two pillars of their coaching staff due to Covid-19.
Maui Kahalepuna passed away in December after a month long battle with the virus. Kahalepuna had been apart of the Red Raiders coaching staff since 2000. The program was dealt another loss in August, when highly respected coach, and former Rainbow Warrior Matt Faga died at thirty-nine.
“You come here a red raider and the RR4L means it. You’re a Red Raider for life, so we want to make sure we honor those, especially Coach Maui and Coach Matt,” said Kahuku head coach, Sterling Carvalho.
“They’re special to this program. They gave us a lot. Day in and day out they came out and supported us, even though the pandemic. We knew that this season had to be for them,” Liona Lefau added.
“They played as father figures. They coached really well with passion and love. They’re always so loving. They really meant a lot to me,” Sterling’s nephew and junior wide receiver, Kainoa Carvalho, said.
Faga was involved in the Polynesian Bowl and Hall of Fame as one the most well respected coaches in the state. He was giant in stature, with a heart of gold and the knowledge to match. It’s these characteristics that allowed him to uniquely connect with his players.
“Him (Faga) being a great technician, he was also a jokester, so players would work hard for him and at the same time be rewarded by his comedy and his jokes. It was a love for the players and the players had a great love or him. That’s what our haka is about, remembering those who were before us and who is here now and represent those that will be coming later in the future,” Sterling explained.
Soon, Red Raider Nation will not be just a hidden secret on the North Shore of O’ahu. Kahuku is the subject of the next season of HBO’s, The Cost of Winning. Camera crews have been following the team since the beginning of the season to give everyone outside of Hawai’I an inside look at the Pride of the North Shore.
“I personally got to watch the other one, so I was excited as well. It’s a cool opportunity for us,” Lefau told KHON2’s Alan Hoshida.
“You know, I hope that they see the culture here. The tradition. Most importantly, how we’re off the field – great young men. We’re really a part of the community, and play a big role in the community, and hopefully we can get that message through to the whole world.” Kainoa added.
Coach Carvalho hopes the country sees the aloha that the islands are famous for.
“We just hopes it portrays the aloha that we have here on the islands. The hard work sacrificed that we have here in this program amongst the players and the love that we have from our Red Raider Nation, the community. The support that we have from our school and across the nation. We hope it portrays the overall love and aloha of our Kahuku program.”
Kahuku is looking for their first title since 2015. If the drought ends this year, it will be for their fallen brothers, in front of the whole world to see.
“Kahuku football is a lot bigger than just a sport. It’s kind of a lifestyle down here,” Lefau finished.