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

After days of testing, Punahou and Saint Louis took the field for a scrimmage last spring. It was the first football competition between the two rivals since 2019. The two teams will meet this Saturday in an ILH regular-season game. 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. I highly Doubt It May 4, 2021 7:58 am

    is it true that what St louis did to Punahou offensively , they couldnt do that against Mililani? Im hearing rumors from the Millville Peeps that they gave it St Louis. Just want to confirm. Word is going around from the Millville guys that St Louis couldnt do nothing against the Millville’s D . And that the offense of Millville moved the ball at ease against the crusaders D? Just curious. Feedback please? Im pretty sure in a real game situation the crusaders wouldve have blown them out. Real game situations, Mililani staff just cant seem to adjust, especially against the crusaders.

  2. 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.

  3. New Season May 4, 2021 10:44 am

    Lets just call last season state champs by the crusaders until somebody beats them . I think nobody touches them this year, regardless what people are saying about the Mililani scrimmage. The Crusaders only had 4 days of pads when they played Mililani twice as for the Trojans been practicing almost a month in full pads M-F. Not to mention the crusaders didnt have all their starters and were mixing up starters with Seniors just so the Seniors could play. So call it what you want, Crusaders dominates next season also with the exception of Kahuku possibly giving them a run. I see no other school competing with them besides Kahuku and possibly Punahou.

  4. 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.

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