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Red Raider Coach Treading Cautiously About Castle Crew

Kahuku head football coach Reggie Torres

If the Castle football team needs a lobbyist, Kahuku head coach Reggie Torres might qualify. The much-improved Knights, who have been the hard-luck story of the local prep football scene this fall, have Torres’ attention as he and the Red Raiders get ready to host Castle at 7 p.m. Friday in an OIA East Red game.

“They’re a lot tougher than they were last year – they’re right on the brink,” he said of Castle. “They just need to finish, and they’re going to finish one of these weeks. Hopefully, they won’t finish this week against us.”

Castle dropped consecutive overtime games to Kailua and Farrington earlier this season, but what got Torres’ attention was its defensive effort in a 15-0 inter-league loss in week one to a stellar Kamehameha team from the ILH. Castle limited Kamehameha to 4.6 yards per rush in that game and gave up nothing through the air.

“They kept Kamehameha down, and they run the ball,” Torres said. “They sure looked good against the run, and we run the ball.”

His offense is averaging 277 yards on the ground, so all signs point to Castle’s front seven opposite the Red Raiders’ offensive line as the matchup to watch Friday night. In addition to signal caller Tuli Wily-Matagi, Kahuku currently boasts four backs – Soli Afalava, Polikapo Liua Jr., Lia Uelese and Marcus Muti – who average better than 5.5 yards per carry on the ground.

“We’re going well with the run. The offense is ahead of the defense right now. We really have to get our defense up to par. It’s a matter of going back to the basics. We’ve gone back to teaching concepts. Once they pick that up, we’ll be better.

“We (usually) run a lot of multiple schemes, and we’ve always been a pressure-defense,” he added.

“We have to simplify more for the newcomers.”

Tackle Lamone Williams and middle linebacker Pene Kaonohi have been key components for the Red Raider defense to date, according to Torres. “We’re seeing some progress there – they’re starting to lead. Lamone has been one of our most consistent guys. Pene is one of our captains and our signal caller (on defense). He’s been consistent in his work ethic and in what he’s doing.”

Despite a 38-15 loss Aug. 31 to East High on its Salt Lake City trip, Kahuku saw progress, to hear their coach tell it. Among Kahuku’s issues in that game were self-inflicted miscues. A muffed punt led to one East High score, and an individual defensive breakdown led to another, resulting in an early 14-0 deficit for Kahuku, Torres said.

“We’re not a high-powered offense, we run the ball,” he explained. “We don’t have the guns to catch up (when facing a deficit). Defensively, they (East High) couldn’t move the ball on us methodically.”

For a Red Raider team that returned only four starters from last year’s state championship season, the trip to Utah was “just what we needed,” Torres said.

“It was the best thing for us, we believe. Except for the outcome, it was an excellent trip. You find your players (on a trip to the Mainland), and we became closer as a team.”

Kahuku was to play Moanalua last weekend, while Castle was to host McKinley.

The Red Raiders’ game with Castle this weekend is their last home game at least until the playoffs. Kahuku will finish up its regular season with a pair of games on neutral sites: Sept. 20 versus McKinley at Roosevelt High and Oct. 3 versus Farrington at Aloha Stadium. Sandwiched in between is a true road game Sept. 27 at Kailua.

Castle will have a bye week following this weekend and will close out its regular-season slate Sept. 27 with a road game at Moanalua, and then a game versus Kaimuki Oct. 4 at Kaiser High School.