COUNTDOWN: LB Legend Matautia ready for double duty for No. 2 Punahou

Punahou's Legend Matautia put a big hit on Kamehameha's Kanoa Shannon during an ILH football game in 2017. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

The state’s elite football programs have rarely felt the need to utilize players on both sides of the ball.

When it happens, though, the results have often been outstanding. Kahuku used safety Kawe Johnson as an option quarterback and kick returner en route to a state title. Punahou didn’t hesitate to employ linebacker Manti Te‘o as a running back during a championship run.

While Saint Louis has kept it simple during its current run of three state championships, contender Punahou, ranked No. 2 in the Star-Advertiser Preseason Top 10 and featured in today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which you can read by clicking here, is digging for solutions. One option would be to use safety Alaka‘i Gilman as a pass catcher and stud linebacker Legend Matautia as a fullback/H-back.

“Pretty much, our whole team is underrated. We don’t have as many guys. We don’t have as much depth as at certain positions as years before,” Matautia said. “Our slogan is, ‘All we got is all we need.’ ”

Gilman is often busy on defense, so there’s a question about how much is in the tank for added duties on offense. Matautia is a supreme athlete, a 6-foot, 240-pound bulldozer with excellent speed in the box. Defenses would have to account for both athletes when they’re on the field.

“It feels great. The first time I started running the ball at practice, it was so fun,” Matautia said. “Whatever they need me to do.”

Gilman at the slot or wide receiver would possibly create more space for returning starter Koa Eldredge. Keep the defense honest. The receiving corps as a whole is generally experienced with some getting extended playing time.

Punahou defensive back Alaka’i Gilman could see more time on the offensive side of the ball during his season season. Photo by Andrew Lee/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

The backfield features Vincent Terrell, who ran a 10.6 in the 100-meter dash last spring. In an Open Division slate that features powerful Saint Louis, a heavy-hitting defense from Kamehameha, and the powerhouses of the OIA, Punahou will lean on its ground game at times. Matautia’s ability to run, lead block, catch passes and stay in the pocket to protect quarterback Hugh Brady could be vital. If he still has the energy when he’s not playing a key role defensively.

“We ask him to do a lot. We ask him to cover, blitz like a weak-side linebacker, attack the gaps, and run the ball as well,” Buffanblu coach Kale Ane said. “He wants to do as many things as he can. He’s also a state judo champion, a top wrestler, second in shot put. Actually, he was tied for first, but he took more throws. He’s very athletic and very smart. A student of the game.”

If Matautia can survive and thrive in the ironman role, that would give Punahou a valuable chess piece on offense. With Terrell’s breakaway speed at RB, three returning starters on the O-line, Eldredge and Moku Dancil-Evans hauling in passes, and Brady building on the momentum of a solid 2018 season, the offense could have tremendous balance.

It won’t be Matautia alone getting offensive snaps. Linebacker Kahanu Kia will likely share the offensive role with Matautia.

“We’ve been working hard every day, getting extra conditioning in. We know we’re going to be playing both ways every time,” Matautia said.


  1. HailFromDaNorth August 1, 2019 7:22 am

    If punahou could open up more for recruiting and offer full scholarship’s they would be killing Saint Louis! They’re numbers have been dwindling because a lot of parents can’t even pay half for their kids to attend. They’re program I feel will start to fall off especially with their admin looking to put their money into other things.

  2. Trustno1 August 1, 2019 9:15 am

    Why you think they were winning? They was winning the recruiting battle in the State. They even won the recruiting battle in Laie. They have way more money then St. Louis so what’s the problem? Maybe kids just don’t wanna go to a private school and jus wanna stay and play for their homeschool! I seen lots of kids do that! Punahou has been going down since 2014 when they lost to Mililani in the Title game. Good luck to all the teams this year! 808vsEverybody!

  3. ??? August 1, 2019 11:48 am

    If Punahou could just hire Ron Lee away from STL and they would be at the Top of the ILH in one or two years!

  4. ILH August 1, 2019 12:27 pm

    Not only Ron Lee, Cal Lee too, Cal is so cool, very great coach to play for, when Cal and Ron Lee stops coaching at Saint Louis it will be tough winning Championships again at Saint Louis, hard to find coaches like Ron and Cal, Punahou was recruiting and winning a lot until Cal and Ron Lee returned to Saint Louis in 2014, so for now as long as the Lee’s are at Saint Louis it will be tough for everyone else to go up against the Crusaders.

  5. HLI August 1, 2019 12:59 pm

    Regime change at Punahou??

  6. CynHyn August 1, 2019 3:04 pm

    Punahou should hire Vae Tata. The greatest coach. Took a first year Kahuku team and turned it into a State Champ (Beat down a Lee team with a Tua). Unmatched.

  7. Mahatma Gandhi August 1, 2019 4:01 pm

    Only so many Polys Punahou can bring in. Cannot ruin their reputation as an academic school. It was about 1994 when I was sick and tired of St Louis destroying the competitive balance of high school football that I said Punahou should go all-out in recruiting, even recruiting mainland popolos. Iolani Red Raiders same way. Only so many recruits they can bring in a year.
    Does Punahou really make football recruits pay half tuition? I thought it was just 10%. Half would be like $12,000 a year. No way a Farrington family gonna be able to afford that
    I bet St Louis covers 100% tuition.

  8. ILH August 1, 2019 11:12 pm

    Cal Lee’s win lost record hard to beat, Vae Tata can’t be the best with only one Championship, one championship was a lucky championship, need many championships to be the best. Why Reggie Torres went back to Kahuku from Punahou, he can’t take the beatings by the Crusaders, he will get more lickings this year.

  9. ItIsWhatItIs August 2, 2019 7:00 am

    Hahaha… Almost EVERY top school in the state recruits, every year kids moving around trying to find the best school for them. It’s all about that D1 ride, both ILH & OIA!! Kids leaving one school to attend the next. Be honest it’s just frustration and jealousy. Most kids at STL Either didn’t make it into Kamehameha or has some kind family ties to the school. Good Luck to all the boys & girls who put in the off season work, hope you all have a safe and successful season!!

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