Saint Louis’ Jayden de Laura, Punahou’s Alaka‘i Gilman in epic mastermind battle

Saint Louis safety Koali Nishigaya (23) was brought down by Punahou defensive back Alaka'i Gilman (11), left, outside linebacker Legend Matautia (43), and defensive back Jarrin Sato during the first meeting between the two teams this year. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

The game can be simple as checkers.

On this night, it was chess. Punahou safety Alaka‘i Gilman made sure of it, leading his teammates on another stalwart defensive effort. Even in a 25-19 loss to No. 1 Saint Louis, No. 2 Punahou showed grit to go with plenty of talent.

They got to Saint Louis quarterback Jayden de Laura a few times in the backfield, but they also limited his dangerous open-field runs. The senior finished with 12 rushing yards on 11 carries. What Punahou took away turned into other opportunities for de Laura, who finished 34-for-40 for a career-high 402 yards. In many ways, it was a matchup within the matchup between the orchestrator of Saint Louis’ offense and the brainiac of Punahou’s retooled defensive unit.

Punahou provided what might become the recipe for opposing defenses hoping stay in a game with the nation’s No. 6-ranked team. Spy on de Laura, prevent chunk yardage and play as physical as possible. Saint Louis turned the ball over four times on fumbles. It was a calculated risk that paid off for Punahou, which had the ball and the potential to win the game in the final 3 minutes.

Gilman and de Laura chatted near midfield after the game.

“This is the best safety in the state,” de Laura said.

Gilman, who had two fumble recoveries, deflected any notion that Punahou kept de Laura under wraps.

“It’s hard when he’s running the ball every play for 20 yards,” said Gilman, who is committed to Washington State.

“Turnovers killed us,” de Laura said. “They capitalized on those.”

“Sometimes,” said Gilman who recovered one fumble and was a part of that swarming attack.

Perhaps the most pivotal play involving Gilman and de Laura came in the final minutes as Saint Louis drove near midfield. Punahou brought huge pressure on de Laura as he scrambled toward the right sideline. With Gilman and other defenders closing in, de Laura’s sideline toss was picked off, but Punahou was flagged for a roughing-the-passer penalty. A few plays later, Saint Louis got a TD run by slotback/running back Koali Nishigaya to take a 25-19 lead.

Was it really roughing the passer? One play made a difference, as did dozens of other plays in this showdown that lived up to the hype. Unless Saint Louis loses a game down the stretch, Punahou will face Kamehameha in the ILH playoffs, with the winner to play Saint Louis for the ILH Open title. A lot of Ifs, and it could lead to another meeting of the minds.


  1. To Da Hale September 21, 2019 12:19 am

    Congratulations to both teams and players.
    Both sides gave all they had.
    Best game so far this year.
    Sad part is that the refs “appeared” that they had an agenda for this game…..

  2. ilh September 21, 2019 12:24 am

    Bad calls on both sides the ball, hey, happens in the NFL too, Crusaders still # 1

  3. HailFromDaNorth September 21, 2019 1:13 am

    That Roughing the passer call and that muffed punt. Those were some iffy calls, but what a game! The son’s game to play! That freshman QB is the real deal. He held his composer, also the O line for giving him time. Against that defensive line and line backing core, that O line was playing tough in the trenches. Big props to Saint Louis on their off day they still hung in tough. Was awesome to see that 5’6” slot come and run the rock. Cal went to his playmakers and that kid stepped up. Gotta love a game like that. I gave up watching my red raiders blow up Kapolei, so I just watched this game and man! That was an awesome game.

  4. Nothing but the truth September 21, 2019 1:30 am

    Was at this game, but I think I was watching a different game than the one the writer of this article was watching. The roughing the quarterback penalty was not on the drive that resulted in the winning touchdown for St Louis. In fact, after the roughing the quarterback penalty which negated the interception, I believe St, Louis fumbled the ball and Punahou recovered.

  5. St. John bosco football September 21, 2019 6:07 am

    St. Louis is overrated they suck. They ain’t no #7 team in the nation. They just got exposed. St. John bosco would destroy them.

  6. Good Story September 21, 2019 7:19 am

    Both studs…first time to see that Sagapolutele kid, he’s a stud. Didn’t believe much of the hype about the Matautia kid last year but I do now…he had a great game too. There were some key dropped passes that hit the Punahou receivers in the hands. When playing St Louis, you simply cannot. But St Louis handled their business.
    Props to both teams for a great game.

    Mahalos for the Blueprint Punahou…

  7. Coach A September 21, 2019 7:49 am

    Inadvertent whistle? Seattle got their 12th man, St.Louis got Goshima.

  8. The Truth Shall Set You Free September 21, 2019 8:16 am

    Bizarre game…StL dominates statistically doubling up Puns in yardage but 4 TOs in the red zone, 3 missed PATs, 1 missed FG, dropped passes (one for a TD), horrendous special teams play and not having a second string center who couldn’t even get off decent snaps made this a nail biter. Was the regular kicker for StL out last night? Don’t remember the kicking game being so bad during their previous games. They even switched kickers during this game. If this game just goes about “normally” StL scores 40+ easily…DeLaura is a beast.

    Punahou QB and “D” are the real deal though. They won’t beat StL this year as I think Crusaders will take care of business in their rematch but Buffs will challenge for State FB supremacy next year.

  9. ItIsWhatItIs September 21, 2019 8:39 am

    What a game. UH needs to send that Koali kid an offer!! Rolo should have walked it over to the campus last night!! He appears to be a special talent.

  10. Kimo Lee September 21, 2019 8:40 am

    Nothing but the truth. I agree with you 100%. St. Louis fumbled on the drive that had the roughing the passer call. Punahou got lucky twice with personal fouls. Other refs would have kicked those players out. Glad they didn’t because it was a great game. Refs just gotta get on the same page and be consistent. As I said some of those hits would have resulted in players getting ejected. Punahou defense is tuff but not the best in the state. Their quarterback is the real deal and he will set some records. Hawaii football at it’s best. St. Louis get ready because Mililani is the real deal.

  11. notes September 21, 2019 9:01 am

    of course the refs wouldn’t eject those players. both schools pay good money for their players so what’s the point of spending all that money just to get them kicked out? the refs know who butters their bread. this wasn’t a football game with good coaching. just two all star teams going at it. the real coaching talent is in the OIA where we do more with less because we have to. the ILH keeps stealing our players

  12. Jusamom September 21, 2019 9:04 am

    I love me my Crusader Football but what an ugly win….Saint Louis played like crap last night. I get it, everyone has an off night and clearly Saint Louis had an off night….BIG TIME. I was at the game last night and even I can say that some of the calls from the Refs were a huge WTF? Saint Louis is going to be practicing all weekend as probably as I write this, Cal is working the kids right now. Punahou came to win and almost did. I get that a win is still a win but IMHO if you are the reigning 3 Time State Champ, you should play like it….all day every day. Can we talk about the Crusader’s Kicker? I am at a lost for words on this kids…..he has one job and clearly he needs to be retrained because every time he went to kick, we were all praying…not a good feeling because in many cases, it’ll come down to the Kicker…..Come on Crusaders, LET’S GET IT TOGETHER!

  13. hiusername September 21, 2019 9:06 am

    Good job Puns with those stripping of the ball that led to fumbles and your recoveries. Hindered their momentum; where they may have scored 3 or 4 times more.

  14. 96730to89 September 21, 2019 9:12 am

    @Notes: Boohoo. Cry cry cry. Wah wah wah.

    It’s not stealing. Parents and kids AGREE to sign up for ILH schools, because they get better coaching and facilities. Your argument is lame. It’s like saying Clemson and Bama “STEAL,” the top HS talent. They don’t. They work their tails off, build their programs into powerhouses, and extend open arms to top players.

  15. Sugai September 21, 2019 9:57 am

    To #8 that’s their starting center

  16. TRUTH September 21, 2019 10:55 am

    Saints is clearly the best team and just had one of those bad games. Saints had over 557 yards of offense to Punahou 275 yards and was better on offense and defense but turn overs killed them. Guarantee they will handle Punahou next round. Saints is too elite with D1 athletes. Best defensive back in state is Kamo’l Latu.

  17. Team 808 September 21, 2019 12:03 pm

    A very fun game to watch.

    Punahou Defense is legit. Hope OIA teams can blueprint on how to contain St. Louis offense, I’ve never seen Jayden Delaura look so uncomfortable in the pocket. This is even when they played BG. They put their Freshman QB in very good situations to manage the game, can’t wait to see him grow.

    Couldn’t EMPHASIZE HOW BIG PUNAHOU SPECIAL TEAMS DID. This formula is underrated. This was a game changer (Kickoff Return TD) along with the turnovers.

    Also, St. Louis offense is Legit. Wilson & Sykes with Nishigaya is deadly. Kind of makes no lead safe.

    Also, between best Safety in the state I would go Gilman and than Latu, than CB is Kaniho

  18. notes September 21, 2019 12:42 pm

    96730to89, you know there’s a difference between high school and college football, right? you know that recruiting in college football is the norm because that’s always been the way college sports runs, right? you know that the OIA and public school football has to draw their players from their own districts so that recruiting is NOT the norm, right? you know that it was the ILH and their private “schools” that ended up breaking the system so bad by putting profits over kids and communities right?

    so you saying that oh it’s okay because colleges recruit too, you’re admitting that the ILH destroyed the balance of high school football so bad because of their excessive for profit recruiting and you’re okay with this because deep in your heart you and other people like you think that the profits for a private “school” should come first, not the kids or their communities they get taken away from

  19. Kimo September 21, 2019 12:58 pm

    Kids always come first and that is why a lot of them go to private schools. Communities should back their kids no matter what school they go to. Some kids get to St. Louis in 7th or 8th grade and they bust their butts getting better each year that they are there. Everyday you going against the best and getting better. Some players leave St. Louis after being there for 2-3 years and go back to their communities. I believe private schools provide more opportunities for kids. These kids and their parents make that decision to go private school.

  20. Robocop September 21, 2019 1:49 pm

    Talk “formula” or “blue print” all you want. You really think a team as talented as the Crusaders won’t tighten up? Punaho found a couple weak points, exploited them and couldn’t get the W. Good luck now that those weak points have been pointed out. Also good luck recreating the turnovers with the personnel of other schools. You gotta strike when you have them on the ropes and Punaho didn’t

    notes is a loser

  21. Seriously September 21, 2019 2:43 pm

    Hard to capitalize when you got to play against the other teams 11 on the field as well as the refs.
    Go watch the tape and all of the horrible calls (like a lot that impacted the game).
    The tape doesnt lie.
    1st StL TD on 4th down? Ball was juggled as he went out.
    Fumbled punt? Inadvertent whistle? C’mon.
    Long pass to set up the TD? Ball was trapped.
    Yes crusader are a good team and are deserving of being #1, but last night Punahou flat out got robbed.
    Yes, refs make bad calls sometimes , but this was “continuous” and totally game changing.
    Last night’s ref crew should get reevaluated so this doesnt happen again (to any team)….

  22. Nothing but the truth September 21, 2019 2:50 pm

    There has been a lot of resentment towards St Louis and “recruiting”. This opinion is from someone who has never attended private school and grew up in the middle of Kalihi. Read the posts of Hail to da North on 8/2 and Shumai on 9/10 who are right on the nose. St Louis students are not from that community like a public school. They are a private school that accepts students statewide that are willing to pay. Is there really anyone who believes that St Louis has to twist kid’s or their parent’s arms to go to St Louis, if they have a talented son that has football in his future? The program, its coaches and success, sells itself. I’m sure St Louis has a waiting list of kids who want to attend St Louis and play football. Shumai was absolutely right when he compared kids going to St Louis with Tua choosing Alabama. You blame him? You think Saban had to twist the family’s arm to get Tua to go there? Finally, should St Louis come a-knocking to a kid’s door to “recruit” them, always remember that they can say no. Why don’t they?

  23. Jay September 21, 2019 3:38 pm

    Notes is a OIA homer. A lot of these OIA crybabies claim recruiting when most kids decide to transfer to other schools for a better chance in the OIA or let’s say Millilani’s Starters are mostly recruited. Yet you have a vendetta against the ILH. GTFOH. Kids have the choice to go to schools. Let alone you wanna call coaching in the OIA is better. Lol really you’re a joke. If coaching was better which OIA teams are sending blue chip recruits to college???? Just stop right there man. LETS NOT FORGET ABOUR THE INFERIORITY COMPLEX OIA HAS WITH ONLY HAVING ONE ILH TEAM ALLOWED IN THE PLAYOFFS. SMH. Competition makes everyone better. Such a crappy claim about OIA having better coaches.

  24. Jay September 21, 2019 3:44 pm

    Gotta Agree with seriously here. The refs flat out protected St.Louis. The crew was BAD. Lots of missed calls. That inadvertent whistle was complete garbage. Let alone a lot of cheap shots by St.Louis that the refs turned the other cheek. Long pass that hep set up Nishigaya TD was incomplete. Replay even showed it. Interception negated by roughing the passer was crap. Flat out ROBBED. However you could make it a point that if you don’t cash in on turnovers you’re bound to let them back in the game. Interesting to see round 2.

  25. Trustno1 September 21, 2019 4:29 pm

    Awesome game but truth be told is that Mililani will get smashed by Punahou and St Louis! These are two best team in the state this year!

  26. Team 808 September 21, 2019 5:17 pm


    Calm down. Some of the energy that is put in this thread is crazy, people overreacting or taking stuff personal. Just wow.

    Anyways, As far as Hawaii teams, Punahou is putting up the best fight. St. Louis is steamrolling thru teams especially OIA.

    I’m not sure how Mililani will fare vs. St. Louis. Bosco would be a measuring stick.

  27. 96730to89 September 21, 2019 5:26 pm

    Even if Mililani pulls off the monumental upset against SBJ, turing right around and suiting up against STL the very next week will be just as brutal. Shout out to Coach York for putting Millz on the national map. Hopefully, this game will give his players national recruiting attention.

    Go represent the 808 well.

  28. CrusaderDad September 21, 2019 7:27 pm

    @notes….”you know that the OIA and public school football has to draw their players from their own districts so that recruiting is NOT the norm, right?”
    1. Public schools gets the majority of choice of the population in a district…
    2. Your product is “free”…vs $$$
    3. See Mililani/Campbell/Kapolei/Kahuku rosters are full of transfers…

  29. Sad Note September 21, 2019 8:23 pm

    Notes recruiting rants and disdain for private schools is incurable. Not sure why anyone bothers to try to reason with this crackpot. Perhaps a family member can obtain guardianship of this schizo who also goes by ???, Mahatma Gandhi, Go Figure. Poor Ting dis loosa.

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