HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Kahuku and Waianae met at Aloha Stadium last month, what many thought would be a battle between two of the state's best running teams turned instead into a runaway. The two teams will battle it out again on Friday in the semifinals of the HHSAA State Football Tournament.
"Our defense wasn't prepared for (Kahuku in the first game)," said Waianae defensive back Alexander Quijano. "We're ready to adjust now. Our offense has to move the ball more for better field position."
Headed into that game, played back on October 3, the Seariders were tops in the state in total rushing offense. But as they have all season, the Red Raider defense clamped down, holding Waianae to just .08-yards per rush in a 30-0 shutout victory.
As dominant as Kahuku was in that game, senior linebacker Hirkley Latu says the team could have been even more so.
"We made a lot of mistakes that game and we know there's still a lot to improve on," Latu told Hawaii News Now. "Coming into this game we just want to fix those mistakes and execute to the best of our abilities."
The Red Raiders have had little trouble executing since the last time they lined up against the Seariders, outscoring opponents 119-17 in the three games they've played since, including a 20-7 win over Mililani in the OIA Championship. That said, both teams understand that the start of the state playoffs also signifies the start of an entirely new season.
"We're at the time of the season where anything is possible," said Kahuku head coach Vavae Tata. "They can come out throwing the ball. They threw the ball first play of the game last week, so we have to be on our P's and Q's and be awake for anything."
"The fact we lost (last time), we want to win more," said Waianae's Quijano. "The offense they ran, we're prepared now."
Kick-off is set for 4:30 p.m. on Friday at Aloha Stadium.