LIHUE — The Red Raiders of Kauai High School secured at least a share of the KIF title Saturday when they blanked the Menehune of Waimea High School 27-0 at Vidinha Stadium.
Securing their second win over the Menehune since their 35-13 win on Sept. 13, the Red Raiders have put themselves one win or one Kapaa loss shy of securing the KIF crown outright.
Undefeated at 4-0, head coach of Kauai, Tommy John Cox, credited his team for being easily coachable as to why they have been able to keep rolling.
“With this bunch of kids it’s easy,” said Cox. “They know what we got to do every week and they focus themselves.”
And the Red Raiders were focused from the get-go.
Red Raider running back Reggie McFadden rushed for 48 yards on the first four plays of the game, setting up Kelson Andrade’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Pono Bukoski for the game’s first score with 9:04 left in the first quarter. Bukoski was unable to chip in the PAT, leaving it 6-0 early on.
On the game’s following two drives, both teams’ defenses held as the Red Raiders forced a three and out on Waimea’s first drive, and the Menehune doing the same on Kauai’s second drive.
Waimea started their second drive of the game on the 3-yard line.
On second and nine from the 4-yard line, Menehune starting quarterback Kiliona Russell-Moe fumbled the snap and the Red Raiders recovered it on the 2-yard line.
The Red Raiders punched it in on the following play on a Andrade rush and Bukoski hit the PAT to push the score to 13-0 with 4:12 left in the opening quarter.
Two scores down, the Menehune looked as if they were ready to get rolling on their next drive.
Starting from their own 31-yard line, the Menehune ran the ball for 49 yards on their first 11 plays.
But the Red Raiders defense stepped up.
On the 12th play of the drive, James Bukoski and Nicholas Gabriel charged in to sack Russell-Moe, sending him and the Menehune back seven yards.
The Menehune weren’t able to get the first down on a third and 14 on the Kauai 25-yard line after a shovel pass from Russell-Moe to Kailen Camat-Toki netted only 11 yards. Waimea went for it on fourth down but failed to convert when Camat-Toki was forced backwards for a loss of 12 yards.
Both offenses stalled out for the game’s next four drives but the Red Raiders got on the board again on the fifth.
With 3:05 left in the second quarter, Andrade hit Bukoski through the air on first down for 27 yards, putting Kauai in Menehune territory at their 23-yard line.
Two play’s later, Andrade hit Bukoski again, this time for a 23-yard score with 1:30 remaining in the half. Bukoski hit the PAT to put Kauai up 19-0.
And things got worse for the Menehune before the half finished.
After a two-yard rush by Russell-Moe, which brought them to their own 38-yard line, Waimea took to the air.
Russell-Moe was picked off by Kauai’s Kaiea Iwasaki on the next play and he returned it for 60-yards for a touchdown.
Kauai converted on the PAT and brought the score to 27-0 with 25 seconds left in a half, which held until the half.
Starting the second half with the ball, the Menehune couldn’t get anything going.
On fourth down and one on the Red Raider 22-yard line, the Menehune went for it but turned it over on downs, after the Red Raiders stopped them on the ground at the line of scrimmage. The Red Raiders took over the ball 8:35 left in the third quarter.
From that point on, it was all defense.
Waimea and Kauai punted the ball a total of seven times and neither of them were able to put any more points on the board.
The Red Raiders got the ball with 5:01 left in the fourth quarter and ran the clock out to earn the shutout.
Cox said he was able to work in some new plays and could do so because of his strong defense.
Menehune head coach, Kealii Agular, cited turnovers for their loss and didn’t think the final score was a true indicator of his team’s performance.
“The second half we played a little better, they didn’t score in the second half,” said Agular. “But that fumble set the tempo for them. Then they had those two quick touchdowns before the half and we were in the hole.”
The Red Raiders remain undefeated at 4-0 and can clinch the KIF title with another win or a Kapaa loss.
The Menehune drop to 0-4 on the season and are eliminated from title contention.
In JV action, the Menehune shutout the Red Raiders 20-0.
KIF football returns Saturday when the Waimea Menehune take on the 2-2 Kapaa Warriors at Vidinha Stadium. Kickoff begins with JV at noon with the varsity to follow at 2:30.