Kahuku Offense Growing Strong
Viliami “Lasi” Livai had a junior season to remember last fall when he led Kahuku to a Division I state championship. Even so, he still thought of himself as a work in progress and prepared as such during the off-season. Now, on the verge of fall camp, Livai’s mastery of the team’s offense is miles beyond where it was a year ago.
“I’m a lot more comfortable this year,” said Livai, who threw for 989 yards and 12 touchdowns last season in leading the Red Raiders to a 12-1 record. “I wasn’t as comfortable as I wanted to be last year. The coaches talked to me about being more confident. I’m more confident in my reads than before. And now if I see something (at the line of scrimmage), I have the green light to change the play.”
Livai is one of a large contingent of play-makers back this season for the offense, which averaged 25.4 points per game in 2011. Also returning will be slotback/corner back Kawe Johnson and running back Aofaga Wily. Both have started since they arrived on campus as freshmen in 2009.
“I have more chemistry with the line this year, and the receivers are all looking good,” Livai said. “Our offense complements the quarterback. I just follow the coaches and try to be a leader.”
If all goes according to plan, balance will be Kahuku’s forte on offense, beginning with the run game. A year ago, the top five rushers all averaged 4.5 yards-per-carry or better, led by Wily, who averaged 5.9.
“I’m more comfortable throwing, but we’re a running team,” said Livai, who had two touchdown passes in last November’s win over Punahou in the state title game. “I like being able to lead and call the shots. I like the responsibility.”
Livai’s own introduction to Kahuku football came at a young age. The youngest of four brothers to pass through the program, his father, Siuaki Livai, was head coach, having led the team to two prep bowl titles and two Division I state titles. “I was a water boy then, and it was a great experience,” said Viliami. “I was always looking forward to when I would be able to play for Kahuku.”
He’s also the first quarterback in his family. Siuaki Jr. and Tevita both were linemen, while Semisi was a linebacker. “It started off with my throwing,” he said of his becoming a quarterback. “I got better, and so they used me there.”
In his dad, Viliami also has a football confidant and mentor. “When I get home, he’ll talk to me about plays. He coaches me up.”
As for the team’s massive following, Viliami wouldn’t have it any other way. “The community is always behind us, and it’s an awesome feeling when the community is happy,” he said.
Kahuku opens its season Aug. 10, hosting Punahou in a rematch of the 2011 state title game.