They’re old friends, not by way of the trenches, but via the unpredictable universe of the forward pass.
The script wasn’t what Punahou football fans wanted, but in the end, the future is brighter than ever. Wide receiver Koa Eldredge made it official on Wednesday morning, signing his letter of intent to play football and baseball at Brigham Young University. Nearby, quarterback Hugh Brady inked his pact with Penn.
When summer camp concluded last year, Punahou was in wrecking-ball mode offensively and defensively. Brady was in masterful, impeccable synchronicity as the quarterback in the Buffanblu offense. Eldredge, the most experienced pass catcher, showed the ability to go deep, short and intermediate with his routes.
But when Brady went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 2, there was no choice but to move forward.
Eldredge and his teammates boosted freshman QB John-Keawe Sagapolutele. Brady had surgery, then did his part as a student coach of sorts.
“This past football season, I had to step up big as a leader. It really improved my leadership skills. It was a great experience for me. It was unfortunate that Hugh went down. It was a really big loss for us, but in those moments that were low, all these other seniors had to step up and be leaders,” Eldredge said. “It was really an unforgettable season even though it turned out not the way we wanted it to.”
Eldredge, who also plays outfield and is one of the top returnees on the diamond for Punahou, had a superb senior season on the gridiron. He finished with 70 receptions for 808 yards and five TDs. Punahou went 10-2, losing only to eventual state champion Saint Louis.
Brady, who was 22-for-34, 353 yards, five TDs with no picks in a game-and-a-half, gets a fresh start at Penn.
“I think me and Koa went through a lot of the same stuff, especially mentoring a young guy. There can be a lot of ups and downs. I think John did a great job this year, especially being a freshman,” said Brady, who also had offers from Central Michigan and Hawaii. “Koa did a great job, kind of taking him under wing and just being super supportive of him. I tried to do the same thing and tried to be there as much as possible.”
The grind hasn’t stopped. Brady has his therapy and looks like he’s in the best shape of his life.
“We’ve been throwing on the field, just getting back into it now,” Eldredge said.
Like teammate Solatoa Moeai, Eldredge plans on going on a two-year LDS mission before he takes the field at BYU.
“I don’t know where I’m going yet. I have to turn in my papers,” he said.
Penn won’t have to wait two years to get Brady on the field. The Quakers got a good look last summer when he attended their camp.
“They offered me there. At the time, I thought that was the best option and best environment for me,” Brady said.
He acknowledged that that the cold weather is part of a new experience. It’s not exactly 70 degrees. The temperature at Penn, located in Philadelphia, was 43 degrees on Wednesday afternoon.