ILH Division I Playoffs
The matchup: Saint Louis (6-2) vs. Kamehameha (8-1)
Location/Time: Aloha Stadium, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Head-to-head (since 1973): Saint Louis leads 58-25-2
Biggest margin of victory: Saint Louis, 51-0, Nov. 4, 1988
*Smallest margin of victory: Saint Louis, 21-20, Sept. 25, 2004; Saint Louis, 14-13, Nov. 9, 2002; Saint Louis, 17-16, Sept. 29, 1983; Kamehameha, 21-20, Oct. 20, 1977
*Teams played to 20-20 tie on Sept. 12, 1985 and a 28-28 tie on Sept, 28, 2001
Saint Louis’ offensive leadersUpdated: Oct. 20
Kamehameha’s offensive leadersUpdated: Oct. 29
Everybody associated with Kamehameha and Saint Louis is pumped up for the rematch on Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.
But it’s understandable if one person in particular is just a little more excited than everyone else.
Saint Louis quarterback Ryder Kuhns can finally move past his fourth-quarter meltdown against Kamehameha in the first meeting by leading the Crusaders to a victory over the Warriors in the ILH Division I playoffs.
Kuhns has been brilliant for the Crusaders this season, completing 67 percent (106-for-159) of his passes for 1,720 yards and 22 touchdowns to only four interceptions. Three of those picks came in a bizarre fourth quarter against Kamehameha. With the Crusaders ahead 17-10, Kuhns was picked off three times in four passes with two returned for touchdowns. Kamehameha scored 28 unanswered points to hand Saint Louis its worst loss of the season back in August.
With that behind him, Kuhns has been a stud ever since. Against Punahou two weeks ago, Kuhns was 22-for-38 for 332 yards and four touchdowns with no picks as Saint Louis lost a 35-32 thriller that came down to special teams. The Crusaders missed two extra-point tries and two easy field goals that cost them a victory over the state’s No. 1 team.
Many people feel based off that performance, the Crusaders have the advantage going into Saturday night.
Kamehameha has been proving people wrong all year under first-year coach Doug Cosbie. The Warriors were ranked the lowest among the three ILH Division I teams when the season started before waking people up with a 38-3 rout of Farrington, followed by the big win over Saint Louis two weeks later.
The injury big has hit Kamehameha at running back, but fortunately for Cosbie, he’s had plenty of able backups. Starter Kaulana Apelu went down with a knee injury one game into the season. Senior Brandon Kahookele picked up the slack, becoming the ninth-different Warrior in school history to record a 200-yard rushing game. He hit the mark exactly in the win over Farrington and then became the only Kamehameha player with two 200-yard games when he racked up 244 in a win over ‘Iolani.
He was joined in that elite category a month later by teammate Kainoa Simao, who stepped in for an injured Kahookele and rushed for 202 yards in a win over Pac-Five. Last week against Damien, Simao eclipsed Chad Mahoe‘s 15-year school record of 265 yards by running for 291 in a 65-0 pasting of Damien.
Kamehameha has the defense and the run game to make a run at this thing, but quarterback Noah Sua-Godinet is going to have to step up. He’s averaging under 100 yards passing a game with eight touchdowns, but was held to a total of 146 passing yards in the games against Punahou and Saint Louis combined.
Since losing 10 in a row to Saint Louis from 2004 to 2008, Kamehameha is 6-3 in the last nine meetings. The Warriors already have a win over the Crusaders tucked away this season, but Saint Louis was far more impressive against Punahou than Kamehameha.
The first game came down to mistakes. Kuhns uncharacteristically made three. The rest of his season suggests that might have been a one-time thing. If the Warriors defense can’t come up big again, Kuhns and the Crusaders might get the revenge they so desperately seek.