A card draw following a 21-7 win over Kamehameha on Friday night at Aloha Stadium gave Saint Louis the No. 1 seed and Punahou the No. 2 seed entering the ILH tournament beginning next Friday.
The cards went Saint Louis’ way, but based on recent play on the field, Punahou looks like the favorite to take home the ILH crown.
For the second straight game, Saint Louis’ offense struggled uncharacteristically with senior Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback. The Alabama commit was held to 138 yards passing and he threw an interception for the third consecutive game — something he hadn’t done in his entire high school career.
Tagovailoa did rush for 96 yards and accounted for all three of Saint Louis’ touchdowns, two by the air and one on the ground. His 9-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the 100th TD of his career.
But after the first two drives that ended in touchdowns, Saint Louis had a hard time moving the ball. Tagovailoa didn’t complete a pass in the second quarter and his 138 passing yards were his second-lowest total since he took over the starting quarterback job as a sophomore. The lowest total? That came last week when he was held without a touchdown for the first time in his career in a 33-20 loss to Punahou.
Saint Louis was able to run the ball with 214 rushing yards in the game, but scored on only one of its final eight drives. With the ILH tournament now here, the Crusaders are facing a reality check if they want to get back to the state title game.
“We’re just too content with what we have and what we’ve been doing,” Tagovailoa told the Star-Advertiser’s Stan Lee after the game. “We haven’t been working hard. Guys haven’t been showing up to practice.”
It’s showed on the field. Punahou gave up 64 points in a 20-point loss to Saint Louis in the first meeting only to come back and win 33-20. Kamehameha, which was routed 35-3 in the first meeting against Saint Louis, was in it until the end and lost 21-7 with quarterback Thomas Yam throwing two costly interceptions in the end zone. Even ‘Iolani, which mustered little resistance in a 49-7 loss to Saint Louis the first time out, was much more competitive in the second meeting, losing 42-24 with running back KJ Pascua rushing for 122 yards in the loss.
Saint Louis was in a similar spot last season. After losing in double overtime to Punahou, the Crusaders trailed Kamehameha 22-6 in the second quarter of their next game and were challenged at halftime by their head coach.
“I told them we only had two quarters to play and we have to make something happen or we’re going to go home early this season,” Cal Lee said after the game. “They took it upon themselves to pick it up and do what they’re supposed to do.”
Saint Louis outscored Kamehameha 38-14 in the second half and then went on to win the ILH title with back-to-back wins over Punahou. The Crusaders smashed Mililani in the semifinals of the state tournament before losing to Kahuku in the final.
Saint Louis might need that same pep talk this season.
“We’re trying to learn how to trust and believe in each other on offense, but it’s kind of hard when we get a drive going and we kill ourselves with penalties,” Tagovailoa said. “That’s the thing. We’ve got to get in, we’ve got to execute, and we’ve got to get right back out.”
Saint Louis faces ‘Iolani next Friday at 5 p.m. at Aloha Stadium.