Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • April 13, 2021
Kahuku Red Raiders Will Finally Get A Brand-New Artificial Turf Football Field

Hawaii State Representative Sean Quinlan did what he felt was the right and obvious thing to do when he got elected in 2016.

He went door to door from Kahuku to Waiahole and asked what people really wanted. The answer from nearly everybody, Quinlan said, was that Kahuku needed a new football field.

More than $12 million in state government funding later, the Red Raiders are going to get the field they’ve dreamed about for a long time. The artificial turf field will be ringed by a brand-new rubberized track.

One of several artist’s renderings of what the Kahuku new football field will look like. Due to the ongoing controversy over the team’s mascot, the Polynesian warrior logo at midfield might not be part of the final job. (Image from Hawaii State Representative Sean Quinlan’s Facebook page).

The field, as it is now at Kahuku, is consistently marred by a drainage problem, which causes a muddy field more often than not, especially during football season.

Years and years have gone by, with more mud bogs and mud bogs. But those days will be a thing of the past.

“It’s amazing that this has dragged on this long without a solution,” Quinlan told Bedrock Sports Hawaii by cellphone Tuesday. ”
The answer so consistently when we walked every street from Kahuku to Waiahole in 2016 was get us a new football field. That was just about every person.”

According to Quinlan, $1 million was budgeted by the Legislature for planning and design in 2017. That was followed by $1.5 million in funding in 2018 and a total of about. In 2019 and 2020 combined, $9.8 million was added to the total.

Work has already begun on the project.

“I’ve been around to see many plans to fix our field, only to see those plans fail,” former Kahuku football coach Reggie Torres, who works at the school, texted Bedrock Sports Hawaii. “It’s been a hope by many of us to see it happen in our lifetime. Now I come to work and see the trucks begin working on the drainage and now believe it will be happening soon. It’s an exciting time for the school, our student-athletes and many others, including myself.”

The draining problem will be alleviated by underground storage tanks to hold the overflowing water. Quinlan said this is a quick fix and eventually more work on the drainage problem will be done.

The Kahuku field nowadays — when it rains heavily. (Courtesy photo).

“The project is out to bid and now it’s down to what color the field will be, where and what the logo will be and if it will say Kahuku or Red Raiders in the end zones,” Quinlan said. “There are several different designs for that. Also, they might go with a red field, but that decision is going to be made by the principal (Donna Lindsey), the athletic director (Gillian Yamagata) and the DOE. And there will be a wonderful brand-new top of the line track.”

In the past, according to Quinlan, the DOE was “chronically underfunded” to help Kahuku’s poor field situation.

“It (the field) will still occasionally flood, but not as often,” he added. “It’s not a perfect fix. There will be no soupy or muddy fields, though. This is one of the most storied high school football programs, not only in the state but in the entire country. This goes beyond tradition. It’s their own culture.”

The estimated completion of the project is in the fourth quarter of 2021, but that timeline is dependent on how much rain comes and slows down the work. Quinlan believes the first games played at Kahuku’s new artificial field will likely be at the start of the 2022 season.

“We always knew that we were pretty much going to miss at least on season in which Kahuku would play its home games at a neutral site,” he said.

Any money left over may be applied to other on-campus project, including gym bleachers and repair for a warped gym floor.

“We still don’t have a swimming pool,” Quinlan said.

The long-term drainage problem needs to be addressed, Quinlan added. “There is a long-term agreement to move the water from the campus across Kamehameha Highway to the James Campbell sanctuary. That’s the natural drainage flow, makai, and the road buildup has made a barrier for the water to go where it’s supposed to go. But when you move water from one property to another, the Army Corps of Engineers will want to do a flood study and then it goes through the federal bureaucracy, so it will take some time.”

Hawaii State Representative Sean Quinlan.

Quinlan was born in Hong Kong and grew up on Long Island in New York. He moved to Hawaii about 15 years ago to be closer to his parents, who live on Oahu’s North Shore.

“I put my heart and soul into this (project) for four years,” he said. “That’s why I became a representative, to help provide people with what they need.”

And there were many others who are helping to push the project toward fruition along the way, including former state representatives Feki Pouha and Richard Fale, as well as David Lewis and Ralph Makaiau, according to Kela Miller of the Kahuku Alumni Association.

Kahuku is nationally known as a football power. Sports Illustrated came to do a story on the Red Raiders and their fans and culture a few years ago.

The Red Raiders are the most successful Hawaii team in the 21st century, with eight top-tier state championships.

Kahuku’s most recent mascot: a Polynesian warrior,
but that could be changing.

Kahuku has also made headlines recently because the DOE is recommending the Red Raiders take away their Polynesian warrior mascot and their fan-inspired tomahawk chop, saying those things are potentially discriminatory and disparaging to indigenous poeples. The Kahuku fans on social media have written a lot about their intentions to keep the mascot and the tomahawk chop, even though principal Donna Lindsey is taking steps to comply with the DOE’s recommendation.

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RELATED STORY at BedrockSportsHawaii.com: Kahuku Fans Are Adamant About Keeping The Polynesian Mascot And Tomahawk Chop (Nov. 17)
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The following 14 former Kahuku football players have played at least one game in the NFL:

>> Bradlee Anae, DE, 6-3, 257, Dallas, 2020 (1)
>> Hauoli Kikaha, OLB, 6-3, 246, New Orleans, 2015-17 (27)
>> Devin Unga, LB, 6-1, 231, New York Giants, 2014-15 (13)
>> Al Afalava, DB, 5-11, 213, Chicago/Indianapolis/Tennessee, 2009-12 (29)
>> Maake Kemoeatu, DT, 6-5, 335, Baltimore/Carolina/Washington, 2002-12 (136)
>> Chris Kemoeatu, G, 6-3, 344, Pittsburgh, 2006-11 (75)
>> Aaron Francisco, DB, 6-2, 212, Arizona/Indianapolis, 2005-10 (75)
>> Toniu Fonoti, G, 6-4, 349, San Diego Chargers/Miami/Minnesota, 2002-06 (40)
>> Chris Naeole, G, 6-3, 317, New Orleans/Jacksonville, 1997-2007 (154)
>> Itula Mili, TE, 6-4, 260, Seattle, 1998-2006 (114)
>> Tim Manoa, RB, 6-1, 227, Cleveland/Indianapolis, 1987-1991 (53)
>> Lakei Heimuli, RB, 5-11, 219, Chicago, 1987 (3)
>> Stan Mataele, NT, 6-2, 276, Green Bay, 1987 (2)
>> Leo Reed, T/G, 6-4, 240, Denver/Houston Oilers, 1961 (9)

The letter from Sean Quinlan received from Gov. Ige about the dispersal of some of the funds for the Kahuku football field and track:

 

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