Gridiron rivalry renewed: Saint Louis, Punahou and joy of football

After days of testing, Punahou and Saint Louis took the field for a scrimmage on Saturday. It was the first football competition between the two rivals since 2019. Paul Honda/

Scrimmage, yes, but Saint Louis and Punahou have a special intensity any time they gather on the gridiron.

For the first time since the fall of 2019 the two programs met, and the level of skill, speed and physicality were a spectacle. Football has been sorely missed.

“We got to see all the young guys play. Seniors got to play and wrap up their year,” Saint Louis coach Ron Lee said. “Kids are so happy we had this. I feel sorry for the other schools that didn’t have what we did, being out there with their friends. They were having fun. They’ve learned how to handle disappointment. They’ve handled it well.”

Saint Louis scored four touchdowns, each on a pass by junior quarterback AJ Bianco. It was especially impressive because every offensive snap was on the 50-yard line. Bianco fired his scoring passes to Keanu Wallace, Makena Ramos, both seniors, and sophomores Nick Delgadillo and Jason deLaura.

“I thought everyone came prepared. We brought the energy today and kept it up the whole time. The quarterbacks, everyone did well going through reads. We’ve been going through a lot of things this week at practice, going through the game plan,” Bianco said. “I love watching film with Coach Ron. He loves what he does.”

Punahou scored two TDs, including a strike over the middle from quarterback Ian Eveleth to Raydan Caires, who split the secondary En route to the end zone.

Defensive back Jonah Henry added a pick-6 for the Buffanblu.

Senior Kilinahe Mendiola-Jensen enjoyed Punahou’s scrimmage with Kamehameha last week and, on Saturday, with Saint Louis. He considered sitting out of the exhibitions this spring to focus on his future at UNLV, but opted to play.

“I was thinking about it a lot,” the 6-foot-2, 163-pound cornerback said. “Today is UNLV’s spring game, so I’m lining it up and treating it like the same.”

He gave interim head coach Leonard Lau a double thumbs up.

“He’s still interim, but he’s awesome. He communicates with everyone well. He set the tone and kept us in line when we needed it,” he said.

Princeton-bound wide receiver Christopher Paige hurt an ankle last week against Kamehameha and stayed on the sideline in street clothes on Saturday. It would have been a busy day with football in the morning and hurdles on the track in the afternoon.

“Playing in the scrimmage and running hurdles today, that would’ve been the goal. I’m a little bummed, but it was good to get the young guys in and get film for everyone else,” Paige said. “We have our senior day (scrimmage) and I have ILH track and field championship meet in two weeks.”

Saint Louis will meet Kamehameha on Thursday in the final scrimmage of the spring.

The scrimmage is a possible indicator of protocols for fall football.

“We took so many (COVID-19) tests. I’ve never taken so many tests. We have 150 guys, nobody tested positive. We took tests for three days to play this (scrimmage),” Lee said.

The longtime coach also indicated that He has been told fall season will begin with games on Aug. 6.


  1. Falcon Future May 4, 2021 9:59 am

    Awesome highlights! St. Louis looks like a different level and I think its safe to say they would dominate if there was a real football season.

  2. dahitman May 5, 2021 7:22 pm

    Thank you for Saint Louis for running a spring season that was needed for our young men. Thank you for Punahou for a great scrimmage. Look forward to watching all seniors on both team play at the next level.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email