No. 5 Kamehameha falls just short

Punahou's Maninoa Tufono went airborne and fumbled crossing the goal line against Kamehameha, but recovered the ball in the end zone for a first-quarter touchdown. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

The degree of difficulty was high, but it was Kamehameha’s game for the taking as the clock ticked down on Friday night at Aloha Stadium. It just wasn’t to be in a 21-17 loss to No. 4 Punahou, the Warriors’ second defeat to the Buffanblu in three weeks.

The Warriors had taken a three-point third-quarter lead on a field goal, a clear sign the Buffanblu’s nine-game streak in the series was in jeopardy. But the Buffs took the lead back on a 10-yard pass from Maninoa Tufuno to hulking tight end Solatoa Moea’i with 3:11 remaining.

Then, things looked truly shot when Warriors quarterback Thomas Yam fumbled in the backfield on a collision with running back Kanoa Shannon. The ball scooted away, recovered by Punahou’s Marist Liufau at the Warriors’ 20.

When Punahou went for a fourth-down attempt from the Warriors’ 16 — eschewing a 33-yard field goal attempt and a possible seven-point lead — the Buffanblu needed 6 yards for the fresh set of downs. They got 5 on a keeper by wildcat quarterback Tufono, one of a few signal-callers Punahou tried in relief of the ailing Stephen Barber.

“Playing against a team like Kamehameha, you’re never totally confident,” Punahou coach Kale Ane said. “We had a big discussion on the sidelines. It wasn’t unanimous. I kind of (overruled) everybody. Some kids were hurt in particular (on) the field-goal team, so we felt like maybe the best thing was to run some more time off the clock. Our defense was playing really well, and (we could) give them the opportunity to win the game for us.”

Thus, there was a chance for Yam to lead his team on an 89-yard drive for a game-winning score with 1:08 to go. But Kamehameha had already burned its three timeouts, adding significantly to the challenge.

It started off well. Yam found Shannon for 17 yards, and Yam got up to the line and spiked it. Yam then took off for an 11-yard keeper and got out of bounds. So far so good.

But Yam couldn’t see anything downfield. A 3-yard pass to Braden Akima (in bounds) got it up to the 42. Yam spiked it again, 22 seconds left.

He went incomplete to Shannon near the right sideline with 14 seconds left.

Yam’s final try was on a screen pass to Shannon, but Punahou had that bottled up for a loss of 3. Ball game. Ten straight for Punahou over Kamehameha.

Kamehameha (3-3 overall) dropped to 0-3 in the ILH with a second date coming against top-ranked Saint Louis next week. But, thanks in part to the return of Yam off the bench from an elbow injury, the Warriors were competitive offensively this time. He missed the 21-0 loss to Punahou on Sept. 9.

“To even walk out on the field with a minute-15 left and for those kids to look in (each other’s) eyes and see that they’re ready to go, we’re close,” Warriors coach Abu Maafala said. “This is the SEC of Hawaii football, and so any little mistake, it accumulates toward the end of the game. But for us to be in it at the end, comparatively to what we’ve been, very encouraging sign. At the end of the day, no moral victories, but a lot to improve on, a lot of good things to capitalize on and try to keep our team motivated so we can go win.”

Punahou (5-1 overall) improved to 2-1 in the ILH with a bye week coming, followed by an Oct. 7 rematch with Saint Louis.


  1. Coach_B September 23, 2017 2:44 am

    Punahou closed out a real squeaker… With so many injuries and mistakes, it’s a real long shot to win the ILH title. If you have to resort to your starting LB to play Wildcat and score 2/3 of your points, your QB situation must be bleak. It also begs the question, if Barber wasn’t healthy enough to start, why did he play at all? This leaves them in a precarious position for their upcoming game vs STL. I believe they would have to be STL in their last regular season game just to force a tiebreaker game that would effectively be the league championship game. Could someone verify that?

    As for KSK, good game and great effort. Getting more competitive every week. Only thing would be similar to my question about PUN and Barber. If Yam wasn’t healthy enough to start, why did he play at all? It sounds like Maafala wants to develop the younger players, like the JV QB that got called up, but that also makes it seem like he has already given up on this year half way through the season. It just sounds like a raw deal for seniors like Yam. Especially since it sounds like Yam hadn’t necessarily been beaten out for the starting gig.

  2. Disappointed September 23, 2017 11:21 am

    Disappointed with Abu and his horrid play calling. He needs to hire and OC who knows what to do with those players. It was evident he needs help and can’t run a 2 minute offense! Defensively to much shuffling of players luckily fo then Pun was not quick enough to snap the ball. How can you allow them to convert a 1st down needed 30+ yards SMH coaching or lack of it. Feel bad to seniors cause it looks like underclassmen will finish the season. If you can’t win in D1 maybe it’s time to move to DII to get you first ILH win!!!

  3. ksk87 September 23, 2017 12:36 pm

    Agree with previous post Abu is no OC. This is his first points in 3 games in the ILH. Granted ILH is competitive but to win you must be able to score. Play calling is weak and predictable. Yelling the plays on the sideline doesn’t work if we in the stands can hear it don’t you think the other team can hear it to. KS defensive on the field to long eventually they will breakdown with all the three and outs.

  4. Disappointed too September 23, 2017 2:57 pm

    I agree with Disappointed. I’ve never seen a Kamehameha offense this bad. Two TDs in ILH play is pitiful. when stant and cosby were there they were scoring points and staying competitive. coach maafala ruined the defense last year when he was the defensive coordinator and now he is ruining the offense this year because hes calling the plays.

  5. Reality Check September 23, 2017 3:46 pm

    Sloppy both sides. Punahou I think is having the same problem with the head coach and his son as the OC. Hard to watch. Ugly win! Embarrassing.

    They both unfortunately will have a short season. Very likely that they will not proceed to post season play. For college recruiting purposes particularly for athletes that need game film for colleges coach to evaluate.

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