There are no easy wins over a Goliath like Kahuku.
Not even for mighty Saint Louis. Yet, the Crusaders’ vaunted defense was stellar in a 30-14 win on Friday night in a clash between the state’s top two football teams. Saint Louis’ front seven wouldn’t let the Red Raiders move the ball. Kahuku had minus-22 rushing yards in the first half, including six Saint Louis sacks.
Linebackers Nick Herbig (three), Jordan Botelho (two) and Kila Kamakawiwo‘ole (one) were active. So was defensive tackle Faatui Tuitele (one), and Timothy Timoteo and Isaiah Filisi were in on yet another takedown.
Kahuku started Thorton Alapa at quarterback, and he couldn’t get into a rhythm with the pocket collapsing often. He finished 7-for-11 with 58 yards and one pick, but absorbed six sacks. He got better as the game went along, but on his best drive of the night, he left with an injury. Robbie Sauvao, who started earlier in the season, entered and fired a TD pass on his second attempt, cutting the lead to 23-7. His ability to feel pressure gave the Red Raiders more time and opportunities, but Saint Louis kept the heat on.
Korvin Feagins‘ pick-six, an 85-yard return down the right sideline, sapped Kahuku’s best chance to rally early in the final quarter.
Kahuku’s final TD came with less than 2 minutes to play while the Crusaders had reserves on the field.
After holding Kahuku to 8 yards of total offense in the first half, Saint Louis’ second-half defensive effort was still noteworthy. It wasn’t as satisfying as coach Cal Lee had hoped. What he, Tuitele and the unit really wants are shutouts, but no team had shut Kahuku out on Hawaii soil since 2008.
“That’s a good first half, but how many teams play four quarters. We’ve got to play four quarters, not two quarters. That’s part of growing up and getting better, when you play all four quarters,” Lee said. “There’s a lot of work to do. We’re starting tomorrow (Saturday). I’m looking for perfection, which we may never get, but we’re going to push harder for next week.”
With a 3-0 game going into the second quarter, it felt like a potential defensive struggle.
“You go in there thinking you’ve got to play good defense. If you play good defense, they don’t score, you know what I’m saying? Unfortunately, we didn’t play very well in the second half,” Lee said. “It’s a lot of work. They’re young. We’ve got to work.”
Kahuku tried an elephant formation on short-yardage, using bulldozing, 235-pound running back Toalei Lefau to pick up a first down. The Red Raiders tried it again a few times, but it didn’t last.
“They can do whatever they want. We’ve got to come back and be ready for whatever they show,” Lee said. “It was a good test, but we learned a lot from our competition. We’re not that good. We’re not that good.”
Kahuku finished with 13 rushing yards on 27 attempts. Saint Louis limited explosive ballcarrier Wes Alo-Maiava to 5 yards on four attempts, and Lefau had 17 yards on five carries. Alapa was 7-for-11 for 58 yards with one interception. Sauvao finished 11-for-24, 125 yards and two TDs.