This is the one Damien has been waiting for.
The Monarchs return to Hugh Yoshida Stadium on Friday, where they lost 23-17 to the Mules to hand ‘Iolani the coveted D1 state berth from the ILH last season.
Damien coach Eddie Klaneski started that game with a failed onside kick and replaced starting quarterback Duke Hoohuli with Jake Holtz after a 2-for-7 start with an interception. The Monarchs couldn’t contend with Akui Tom-Makue‘s three field goals and booming punts but closed the season with a win over Castle.
Holtz is in complete control of the offense this year, guiding a unit that is averaging 39.8 points per game (the school record is 29.5 four years ago) and is off to a 5-0 start for the first time since 2015 for a program that has never started 6-0. The program record for successive victories is six from the end of 1991 to the beginning of 1992.
Holtz was held without a touchdown pass against Castle last week after throwing 11 in his first four games but has put the ball aloft 138 times this year and only been intercepted twice.
He is adept at getting everyone involved, as Makanalea Meyer, Ezra Kaina, Jarvis Natividad and Amo Sulu have all had at least one catch in each of the last four games.
But it is the running back who needs to be fed for the Monarchs to crack Leilehua’s stiff defense. Sulu has had 222 yards with five touchdowns in the last two games and scored in all five. He is the first Damien running back to go over the century mark in successive games since Keoua Kauhi in 2017 and can be the first to break the mark in three games in a row since Brenan Furtado in 2008.
While the Monarchs are scoring points at a clip not seen in their school’s history, the Mules can certainly put the wall up on them. Leilehua has three shutouts already and is allowing just 6.4 points per game. That average is the school’s lowest since Hugh Yoshida‘s iconic 1984 group allowed 5.7.
Leilehua needs two more shutouts to match the 1988 team for the most in a single season in school history.