When Damien prepares to play Punahou in football, the Monarchs know they will be facing an uphill climb in nearly every facet of the game.
And there was nothing different on Friday at Aloha Stadium, when Damien fell 52-6 to the defending Division I state champion Buffanblu.
Nothing different at all. The Monarchs’ last win against Punahou came in 1992 by a 28-26 count. Interestingly, a player named Punahou Aina was one of the Monarchs’ top players that season.
And so the string continues. The Buffanblu have won 30 straight in the series and many were blowouts.
If this was the NFL, the competition committee would have reviewed the imbalance and taken steps to separate the big dogs from the little ones by now.
Damien, however, did do something it hadn’t done since 2010 — score points. Kapiinaokala King’s touchdown against double coverage in the second quarter broke a string of three straight shutouts.
The touchdown by King, an imposing but baby-faced 6-foot-5, 208-pound senior tight end, is worth a closer look.
On third-and-10 from the Punahou 13, King was bumped for a few seconds off the line of scrimmage near the right sideline. When that pressure subsided, King made it into the end zone and was greeted by double coverage from the Buffanblu’s Saitui Moeai and Dayson Watanabe. King stood firm and went up to grab quarterback Dallas Labanon’s high toss.
King finished the game with three catches for 77 yards.
“He’s a beast,” Punahou defensive coordinator Agenhart Ellis III said.
Damien coach Eddie Klaneski said King, a veteran basketball player, is out for football for the first time. His rebounding skills certainly help.
“He’s a big target and you can’t guard him one-on-one,” Klaneski said. “He is a real weapon for us.”
Labanon completed just four of 25 passes, and many of his attempts to his receiver corps were midrange and deep throws to the outside.
“We knew we weren’t going to be able to run on Punahou,” Klaneski said. “So we felt we could get our receivers one-one-one on the outside (where it’s safer) and go against their small corners, and when we did some running, it was with the idea of milking some clock.”
Some of Labanon’s incompletions were dropped. Others just missed the mark. Many were off target due to Punahou’s immense rush.
Punahou held Damien to 112 yards of offense and only 31 on the ground. Labanon was sacked just once — by the Buffanblu’s Moeai.
Jarin Manuel was a standout on defense for the Monarchs with two interceptions.
“Jarin’s a smart player,” Klaneski said. “I think he got beat on one deep ball, but he came back to make those two nice interceptions.”
Damien (1-2, 0-2 ILH) visits No. 3 Kamehameha on Thursday.