Nov. 23 – Hawaii has long been known for producing excellent linemen, and now the NFL has two quarterbacks from the same Honolulu high school, Saint Louis.
Hawaii has long been known for producing excellent linemen, and now the NFL has two quarterbacks from the same Honolulu high school, Saint Louis.
But the most spectacular players bred on the island were often little guys who didn’t look like they even belonged on the soccer field.
No, we’re not talking about those who specialize in court kickers – but that happens to be one of the many jobs Kahuku’s Kainoa Carvalho does. He’s the latest in Hawaiian football’s endless line of undersized all-purpose superstars dating back nearly a century to 5-foot-4, 140-pound Tommy Kaulukukui of Hilo.
Carvalho is listed on his recruiting profile as 5ft 7 and 165lbs (he volunteers in Utah where his father played running back). He doesn’t look that big, but plays much bigger.
“He doesn’t pass the eyeball test,” said Campbell coach Darren Johnson. “But he passes the football test.”
If his return from an ankle injury goes according to plan, Carvalho could be a big factor on Friday as Kahuku looks to defend his state championship against Punahou.
He’s listed as a wide receiver, but when he’s healthy, Carvalho does a little — no, a lot — of everything. It’s practically impossible to come up with a strategy to stop him. When he’s not catching passes, he runs the ball, kicks it, or returns shots.
Carvalho was the Star Advertiser’s Offensive Player of the Year last season. If we were honoring the top special teams player, he probably would have won too, since he had 61 points in field goals and extra points and was selected as a first-team returnee (three TDs on kickoffs, two on punts). and wide receivers (64 receptions, 1,023 yards and 10 touchdowns).
Of course, he’s not a one-man team; That doesn’t exist in football. And as usual, Kahuku is brimming with talent – enough to extend his unbeaten streak against Hawaii opponents to 21 games, even with Carvalho absent for most of the season.
That includes when Kahuku defeated Punahou 27-20 on September 3rd.
Kainoa’s younger brother Kaimana helped fill the gap with 58 receptions for 713 yards (both team leaders) and three touchdowns.
Since returning from injury four games ago, Kainoa has gradually worked his way back to his normal workload.
He started Kahuku’s scoring in Friday’s 32-7 semifinal win over Campbell with a 33-yard field goal. He only had two receptions and two rushes for 17 total yards, but the defense dominated with three touchdowns on interception returns.
Ten years ago, Kahuku defeated Punahou 42-20 for the state championship, a year after beating the Buffanblu 30-24 for the title in 2011.
Back then, Kahuku also had an undersized all-purpose star and Player of the Year. Kawe Johnson was a 5-foot-8, 160-pound safety, receiver, kick returner and occasional option quarterback. His run to a first down on a fake punt was one of the key players in the 2012 World Championship rematch.
He suffered a late-career injury at New Mexico State, but found a way to stay close to the game by beginning TMF Elite Athletic Training, where Carvalho trained during the offseason.
“Kaikai (Carvalho) is doing extra work,” said Darren Johnson. “Speed, intelligence, football IQ, training. Kaikai is very explosive, he breaks tackles and the future is good for him.”
In the early 1980s, Darren Johnson, 5’7″ and 160 pounds, was a standout player in Kahuku with skills similar to those of his son and Kainoa Carvalho.
“What makes them special is that they’re small, so they weren’t given anything and had to work,” said Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho, Kainoa’s uncle. “What makes them different is they know where to be, what window to sit in, what angles to see. And they know it from every position. They may not even be the fastest, but they play bigger and they play faster. It’s angles and soccer IQ. Knowing where you need to be and how to get there and understanding the game.”