Kahuku’s football team improbably rose to the momentous occasion on Saturday night and will likely reap the rewards soon.
In front of its faithful Red Sea at Carlton E Weimer Athletic Field on the Kahuku High School campus, the Red Raiders downed defending national champion and current No. 3 St. John Bosco 30-23, handing the Braves their first loss of 2023.
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Saturday was also Bosco’s first loss to an out-of-state team since losing to Florida’s St. Thomas Aquinas 9-3 on Aug. 25, 2017 and its first defeat to a public school since falling to Corona Centennial on Dec. 5, 2015.
The unlikely victory for Kahuku likely serves as the biggest win a Hawaii high school football team has ever completed. At No. 3, St. John Bosco is believed to be the the highest-ranked team a squad from Hawaii has defeated.
In 1991, Saint Louis defeated national No. 7 Bakersfield at Aloha Stadium. In 2019, the Crusaders defeated Bishop Gorman, back when the Gaels were ranked as high as No. 13 nationally.
Saturday’s unprecedented victory for Kahuku drew a spirited reaction throughout the North Shore. Fans stayed long after the game was over as the Red Raiders performed their alma mater and original “Kaipahua Kura” haka. Traffic was caused outside of campus as vehicles honked in celebration. Even fire dancers and drummers were seen on the streets as the town’s team triumphed.
Kahuku was ranked 55th in the MaxPreps national rankings prior to Saturday, but a shakeup is imminent. Regardless of where they’re placed on Monday, members of the Red Raiders know the rest of the nation is on notice.
“We showed tonight that Hawaii is a sleeper state,” standout running back Va’aimalae Fonoti said. “A lot of the kids get slept on over here, they get overlooked, just from a small island. Now they know to pay attention to the islands.”
Added head coach Sterling Carvalho: “We do have a seat at the table right now. Teams nationally want to play us because they know we play with heart, and that’s what I’m so grateful for about my players. They played with heart. It’s not just that we play with heart, we’re now able to compete with the best. My message to the boys before even the game was ‘Finish.’ And they did that tonight.
“May they continue to improve and continue to get better. It’s not just Kahuku Red Raiders, it’s all the teams across the state that will continue to get better and are now on alert. If you play any 808 team, this is what you’re getting.”