Things got a little frisky between No. 7 Kamehameha and No. 1 Saint Louis at two points in time on Friday night.
The first time was when the Warriors scored just before halftime, cutting the Crusaders’ lead to a touchdown at intermission in the teams’ regular-season finale at Aloha Stadium.
The second was when they met in the loading tunnel after shaking hands following what became a 42-7 runaway win by the state’s team to beat.
As players made their way up the concrete tunnel on the way to the team buses, some trash talk was apparently exchanged. Whooping and hollering from the tunnel echoed all the way out to the field, causing trailing players to come running in support of teammates. The ruckus lasted a few couple minutes before cooler heads prevailed and coaches intervened.
“It’s high school football. High emotions,” said Kamehameha coach Abu Ma’afala. “Those are things that, all of us on this island, gotta continue to coach and sometimes kids get emotional. That’s unacceptable from both of us. We all gotta do a better job of not letting that stuff happen.”
Kamehameha (4-5, 3-4 ILH Open Division) knew going into Friday it was third among the ILH Open teams, and will play Punahou next Friday at Aloha Stadium for the right to face Saint Louis (8-0, 7-0) the following week for the ILH title and lone ILH berth into the state Open Division tournament.
For a while on the field Friday, the Warriors showed the right kind of scrappiness against a rival they’d lost nine straight times to coming into the night, going back to 2014. They were within 14-7 at halftime on a special teams gaffe by Saint Louis — Kamehameha recovered its own punt at the Saint Louis 4 — followed by a Christmas Togiai 9-yard pass to Titus Maunakea. Saint Louis quarterback Jayden de Laura had a couple of touchdown passes but hadn’t totally gone off. The Crusaders’ running game was in traction. The Warriors even had a nice defensive stand in their own territory on fourth-and-1, forcing a turnover on downs.
“Their defense is great,” said de Laura, who threw three touchdowns and no interceptions on 15-for-18 passing for 275 yards. “We have a lot of film on them because we’ve played them so much, two or three times a year the past five years. We expected a good game.”
Saint Louis came out in the third quarter going increasingly to its ground game; its first play was a designed run by de Laura that went for 19 yards, and the Crusaders’ last 34 yards of offense on the drive were via rushes.
“Coach Ron Lee‘s a hell of an adjuster,” Ma’afala said. “They knew that we were covering up their routes. They were having some success, they were completing some things, but that’s one thing you gotta be ready for. Coach Ron, man, he’s a master adjuster. And he came back and hit us on a couple things, a couple zone reads, because we weren’t respecting their quarterback. It just kind of took off from there. So we just gotta keep rolling.”
Sophomore Kiai Keone taking over for Togiai at quarterback at halftime was by design, Ma’afala said. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Keone’s first pass was a pick-6 returned 3 yards by linebacker Nicholas Herbig in Saint Louis’ 21-point third quarter. At that point, Friday’s tune-up for the ILH playoffs was effectively over with more than a quarter to play and the Crusaders up 35-7.
“Planning-wise, we’ve got a big game coming up. It’s like the NFL playoffs,” Ma’afala said. “You gotta kick the tires on as many guys as you can because you never know who you’re going to need.”
Togiai was 7-for-11 for 70 yards and the aforementioned touchdown, while Keone was 5-for-11 for 64 yards and the pick. Kamehameha was held to 38 yards net rushing.
“It’s just execution on the offensive side of the ball,” Ma’afala said. “We’ve proven that when we execute, all 11 guys are doing their job, that we can move the football. We’ve run the ball very effectively this year. We gotta continue to do that in order for us to have some success in the passing game. And we just gotta stay on the same page. We have these lulls in the game, where it’s just back-to-back-to-back errors that we make. We gotta clean that up.”
ADDITION: The late Rob Santos, Kamehameha’s longtime intermediate coach, was honored Saturday in a ceremony on campus before Kamehameha’s intermediate football game.
Rest in Aloha, Coach Rob Santos. Mahalo for mentoring me, and teaching the game of football to generations of student-athletes at KS Kapālama. You were a gentle giant, and will be missed! He Koa Mau A Mau, you are a Warrior, now and forever. #MahaloCoachRob #imua pic.twitter.com/7RB7V0PJmS
— Kyle Galdeira (@KyleGaldeira) October 13, 2018