It may be hard for a player to stand out on a team chock-full of college prospects like Saint Louis, but Kamo’i Latu hasn’t stopped making plays with his team’s season on the line.
The No. 9 team in the nation according to MaxPreps has faced do-or-die scenarios in each of its last two games, and the safety ensured the Saints will keep marching. In Friday night’s second semifinal game in the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships against Kahuku, Latu intercepted two passes in a 49-22 win to extend Saint Louis’ winning streak to 25 games.
“Just working hard, putting in work. We had a long bye, we haven’t played in a while so we’re just hungry,” the junior said. “We came out today and just gave it our all, left it all out on the field.”
In a 45-21 victory over Punahou in the ILH championship game on Oct. 27, Latu also had two interceptions to go along with a fumble recovery. That’s five combined takeaways in two elimination games.
“He’s just a talented player who we love,” Saint Louis coach Cal Lee said of Latu, who holds an offer from Hawaii.
Saint Louis advances to face Mililani in the Open Division state title game, a team the Crusaders haven’t faced yet this season. The regular season game between the two teams on Aug. 25 was canceled due to preparation for Hurricane Lane.
The matchup against the pass-heavy Trojans opens up the possibility of even more ball hawking for Latu and the rest of the Saint Louis secondary, but it won’t come easy against Dillon Gabriel, the state’s all-time passing yardage record holder.
The Crusaders may need to take on the Trojans without starting cornerback Brian Cox, who was ejected in the third quarter against Kahuku for fighting. Unless an appeal overturns the decision, he will be ineligible for Nov. 24’s state title game.
Latu knows the team isn’t taking the opportunity lightly, especially with a three-peat at stake.
“It’s surreal. The feeling’s surreal. We worked so hard and the outcome is great. We put so much work into this and through our hard work we get good results,” he said. “Mililani’s a good passing team. They can also run the ball. This week, we gotta get in our work and study them and watch film. Film is key.
“We’re feeling good. I’m just glad all my teammates, almost everyone is injury free. We’re just gonna come up next week and play Mililani and may the best team win.”