Punahou and Kaimuki won’t meet again this season, but Saturday’s scrimmage might have been just the first in a series of matchups between Buffanblu senior Duke Clemens and the Bulldogs’ Sama Paama.
Paama played on both sides of the Kaimuki line on Saturday, having committed to Washington back in April. Clemens, who spent most of the scrimmage at center for Punahou, went deeper into the summer before picking UCLA in mid-July, setting up potential rematches down the road.
They didn’t go facemask-to-facemask all that often over the two-hour session Saturday morning, but “I might have blocked him a few times,” Clemens said.
“It was good to see a big guy like that. Very strong, athletic kind of guy, bug dude. It was good to compare my skills to a D-I player like that and we’ll probably play each other in the Pac-12.”
After the teams shook hands, both linemen expressed relief to have their focus on the season immediately ahead rather than the possibilities beyond.
“I just wanted to focus on school and didn’t want a lot of people blowing up my phone,” Paama said of his early commitment to the Huskies. “It was definitely a relief.
“(The Washington coaching staff) just welcomed me and my family with open arms. That was my first time out of state too, so just the family environment they have, the coaches share a bond with you.”
Clemens said he too felt at home during an unofficial visit to Westwood and is looking forward to playing in the up-tempo offense first-year Bruins coach Chip Kelly directed at Oregon before a stint in the NFL.
“I like it because I think of myself as a more athletic offensive lineman and that kind of fits into what I like to do, just being able to run and being athletic,” said Clemens, who projects to play both center and tackle for the Buffanblu this season and anticipates concentrating on center or guard in college.
Paama was among the busiest players among the 24 Kaimuki suited up for the scrimmage, playing left tackle on offense, lining up in the interior of the defensive line and handling place-kicking duties. In the second half, he deflected a pass that set up a Kaimuki interception.
Kaimuki senior and Washington commit Sama Paama played on both sides of the line. Here he broke through for a deflection leading to a Bulldogs interception. @HawaiiPrepWorld pic.twitter.com/M47lqnjvW7
— Jason Kaneshiro (@jasonkaneshiro) July 29, 2018
“He’s very talented. He works hard,” Punahou coach Kale Ane said of Paama. “He has a great opportunity to go to college for free and perhaps even the next level. He has that kind of size.”
Clemens anchored a line that cleared the way for Vincent Terrell’s 12-yard touchdown run on Punahou’s first possession and allowed quarterbacks Hugh Brady and Kobe Muasau to both throw two touchdown passes.
Brady and Muasau are competing for the starting job vacated by Stephen Barber, who threw for 1,213 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for a team-high 383 yards and four scores last season.
— Jason Kaneshiro (@jasonkaneshiro) July 28, 2018
“Both of them put in the study time, both of them are working hard and both of them are getting an opportunity,” Ane said. It’s a competition, we’re keeping stats and they’re both pushing each other, They’re friends but they’re able to push each other and want that playing time.”
Brady, a junior, completed 16 of 42 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns while filling in for Barber last year and was first in the rotation on Saturday.
Both moved the offense effectively with Brady connecting with Treyden Buder-Nakasone on a 60-yard touchdown pass in the first half and Muasau, a sophomore, hitting Alex Thompson on an 18-yard fade in the second.
— Jason Kaneshiro (@jasonkaneshiro) July 29, 2018
“I just trust both quarterbacks,” Clemens said. “They both bring different things to the game. Hugh been here a year, knows the offense an little bit better and Kobe is just like a sponge, ready to learn everything.”
Punahou linebacker Maninoa Tufono, one of the state’s most heavily recruited players, sat out the scrimmage to rest a sore knee. Ane said he’ll probably be ready when the Buffanblu begin the Open Division season at Kahuku on Aug. 11.
“The opportunity to go up there and to play with a great crowd and a great environment is special and we’re preparing hard to take the best shot we can,” Ane said of opening the new OIA-ILH alliance against the perennially powerful Red Raiders. “It’ll be fun and I think you enjoy those moments.”
The scrimmage was also the last of the summer for Kaimuki, which practiced against Campbell and Damien on Thursday and opens the Division II season Aug. 10 against Kalani. While Punahou controlled much of the scrimmage, the Bulldogs broke through when returning receiver Kaulana Kaluna made a diving grab of a deep throw from junior quarterback Jonah Faasoa.
Blade Pfeiffer-Kekoa ended the scrimmage with an interception that he returned the distance, although the whistles blew early in the return.
“We always get a lot out of (scrimmages), especially a D-2 school going up against an Open Division school. Every snap is a huge plus,” Kaimuki coach David Tautofi said.
“This is always a great opportunity … Last year we had Saint Louis, Kailua and Radford. Every single year if we have an opportunity to go up against the best, that’s what we’ll do.”