HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kahuku's undefeated season almost went up in flames last weekend in the OIA DI championship game against the Mililani Trojans.
It took a valiant, second half comeback from the Red Raiders to defeat the Trojans, 35-31, at Aloha Stadium to win their third-straight OIA title in a game that won't be soon forgotten. But Kahuku first-year head coach Makoa Freitas doesn't want this team dwelling on past accomplishments, even if the game was only last weekend.
"Winning the OIA is good, but this where we want to be - playing for a state title," Freitas said.
Kahuku's victory over Mililani was a physical game, leaving numerous Red Raiders bruised and sore from the contest. But Freitas knows that when it comes to game time against Waianae tomorrow night at Aloha Stadium, his team will physically be ready to play.
His main concern is the mentality of his players.
"It's hard for 16- and 17-year-olds, even 14- and 15-year-olds to be mentally ready like that but we're working on it," he said. "We're really focusing on the mental aspect right now."
It's been a whirlwind first year for Freitas, who finds himself knocking on the door of another state title game. Despite playing football at the highest level in the NFL, Freitas admitted that he still seeks advice and guidance from his staff, who he said are even more prepared than he is.
"It's been a good experience," he said of head coach at Kahuku. "I have a great staff to fall back on with OC's and DC's who have been coaches before, played in the NFL. They have a lot of knowledge and experience that I can fall back on."
If Kahuku defeats Waianae in the OIA DI Open Division State Championship semi finals, the Red Raiders will go to face the winner of St. Louis vs. Mililani.
But as excited as Freitas might be for his team to play for state title two years in a row, don't think for a minute he's overlooking the threat the Seariders pose, even if they did defeat Waianae 37-0 earlier this season.
"They always bring that physicality and try to run you over with the run game," Freitas said of Waianae. "Defensively, they've always been strong. They play with a lot of pride. And we've got to match their intensity tomorrow night if we want to be successful."
Kahuku will take on Waianae tomorrow night at Aloha Stadium. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m.