Lee says Saint Louis “fortunate” to beat Kahuku

Saint Louis safety Kamo'i Latu celebrated one of his two interceptions against Kahuku in the 2018 state tournament. Photo by George F. Lee/Star-Advertiser.

This time, the Saint Louis Crusaders saved their celebration jigs for post-game.

No. 1 Saint Louis posted a 49-22 win over No. 4 Kahuku in the semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships on Friday night at Aloha Stadium. Next week, the Crusaders will face OIA Open Division champion Mililani for the state title, but for at least a little while, they’ll enjoy the moment.

“I’m glad it’s over. We were very fortunate to win,” Saint Louis coach Cal Lee said. “We had some big plays. Hopefully, we can get better. We’re going to enjoy this win and get ready for Mililani next week. We’re going to celebrate tonight. Twenty-four hours, that’s it.”

Saint Louis’ defense, with titanic stoppers Faatui Tuitele, Stanley McKenzie and Gino Quinones up front, limited the Red Raiders to 158 yards of total offense on 65 snaps. That’s 2.4 yards per play.

The Crusaders’ defense may rank among the best three ever in school play, and as Punahou coach Kale Ane believes, it is certainly a Top 10 defense nationally.

“They’re big. They’re fast. They’re long,” Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho said.

Linebacker Jordan Botelho, still just a junior, keeps coming up with impact plays. This time, he returned a pass 25 yards for a touchdown. So did Harvey Welch with a 52-yard pick-six. Both touchdowns came in the third quarter, capping a dominant performance by the Crusader defense.

Kamo‘i Latu picked off two passes. Botelho and Lawai Brown had six tackles each. Nate Herbig and McKenzie each tallied five tackles. The balance up and down the tackle column is a byproduct of a responsible defense.

There was one slightly confusing moment in the second half, when the Crusaders scored a touchdown with a return down the left sideline, but were penalized for something along the sideline. The TD stuck, but Saint Louis was assessed a 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff.

“It was a matter of our guys going in for a touchdown. It’s very hard for our players to stay behind the white line. They usually do. You could wait, but then it’s all over,” Lee said.

Kahuku scored a TD late in the first quarter, then added another on a kick return in the second quarter. For the most part, until the Red Raiders’ final TD in the final minute against Crusader reserves, it was fundamentally classic defense. Great positioning. Keeping the offense in front.

“I was really happy about that. We played disciplined defense,” Lee said.

Mililani is the one team Saint Louis didn’t play in the first year of the OIA-ILH alliance due to the threat of a hurricane. Dillon Gabriel’s experience and precision in their RPO-driven offense has been difficult for almost every defense to slow down. The fact that he’s a southpaw shouldn’t change anything for Saint Louis.

“We’ll play the same way. He plays both ways (left and right),” Lee said.

The starting defensive unit permitted just one Kahuku touchdown. Kahuku returned a kickoff for a TD. Lee and his team will be back to sharpen their skills again at Kalaepohaku. The mission is not yet complete.

“They scored on a kickoff return,” Lee said. “So we can’t be that good.”


  1. ilh November 17, 2018 12:28 am

    If you take away that three touchdowns Kahuku had, the 1st one on 4th down, and the kick off return and the last touchdown against the reserves, it would have been 0 for Kahuku, but that’s football, you gotta be prepared for anything, but Cal Lee will correct those mistakes starting Saturday morning at practice.

  2. HailFromDaNorth November 17, 2018 2:58 am

    You can guarantee though that Kahuku will be back! They will be stacked! Hopefully this game and the season don’t deter kids from playing for Kahuku. I know they’ll be a lot of other avenues, such as Saint Louis, punahou, Campbell or even the mainland. If Kahuku kept all their talent home. They would be unstoppable year after year, but to each is own. I just love the humbleness in these kids that’s instilled in them from their families and community. The community really rally’s behind of the team because of the love and tradition they have. It was kind of sad to not see the stands packed with red and the Red Sea tomahawk chopping getting the boys all pumped up. Let’s give this coach a chance and hopefully he can bring home #9 next year.

  3. notes November 17, 2018 7:29 am

    if you take away all the recruiting cal lee does, St Louis would have ZERO championships. This entire system is disgusting. the OIA needs to break off from the ILH and create a true state championship with only public schools

  4. KalihiFB November 17, 2018 8:16 am

    Breaking the OIA from the ILH will not do anything. OIA did good with Waipahu winning against Iolani, and Roosevelt winning against Pac-5. Cal Lee is just doing his job at St.Louis…..creating great teams. St. Louis had a few championship teams without Cal Lee. Saying having a “true” state championship with public schools is crazy. The mainland leagues will just laugh. Remember the OIA teams won many state championships also with the ILH schools doing the so called recruiting. If people are upset at the new format then let’s have a ILH champion and OIA champion keeping the league separate without any playoffs and let the national poles (maxpreps or USA today) grade the Hawaii teams at the end of the season.

  5. Wake up November 17, 2018 8:27 am

    Here we go with the crying. All the talk of community support is BS. Only when they winning. The stands was empty on Kahukus side last night. It was sad. Felt bad for their team. Community support my ass

  6. Howard Unebasami November 17, 2018 8:27 am

    That right don’t play the best just play the rest. To some of us we play the best. We don’t run away from the best. If that is the way you feel fine. America would not be here. The 13 colonies fought the no. 1 country in the world at that time. The rest of us fight the best. Damien school didn’t want their kids playing St. Louis but the kids wanted to. They wanted to because that was their best game. Some of us like to play above our heads and not below us. That’s what makes America great. This is for you notes.

  7. Hammer November 17, 2018 9:17 am

    Coach cal is by far the best coach ever and ever will look how smart he is every game he plays everyone 7and 8 graders play freshman only 9 graders play jv all of the 10 graders and three freshman play vs and they have a lot of playing time next year there offense will be unstoppable there defense is going will tuff again they could be better next year then this year so all you cry babies and dummies next year keep the crying towel close to you you guys going need it

  8. Realtalk808 November 17, 2018 10:13 am

    @notes what about the recruiting for the Kahuku basketball program? Recruiting is recruiting and Kahuku is winning the recruiting for basketball and nobody is complaining about that. It’s high school sports. Deal with it

  9. GoIrish November 17, 2018 11:21 am

    @notes all this crying about recruiting. Problem is parents wanting their kids to play in a quality program with a good staff and consistent coaching is what gets so many kids to St Louis. Can’t say that is the case in Kahuku. Your famed community meddles to damn much. How many coaches have you gone through in the last 10 years? I lost track.

  10. Charles Amai November 17, 2018 12:11 pm

    The North Shore needs to get behind their players and support the staff…..BOTTOM LINE

    All these reorganizations don’t make sense. Kahuku players should be 150x more successful than their current stats and transfers have been for the last 40 years.

    Empty community support, time to STEP UP! How about raising money for a new field, quit relying on the government and take charge of the “RR Nation”. Silent Regression has been occurring for DECADES!!!!!

    Get your athletes to the next level that they deserve! Stop worrying about the November Block Party, it’s not about you!!!! It’s a disservice to all of Hawaii!!!!

  11. ILH November 17, 2018 12:50 pm

    As you could see last night, where was all the supporters of Kahuku, a lot of empty seats on the Kahuku side, they only show up when they are in the title game, BAD, BAD, BAD. Bad support, just like Waianae before, the crowds comes to games when they are winning.

  12. Education First November 17, 2018 2:43 pm

    This notion that the “Pride of the North Shore” supports their community more than any other community is BS. They are like the rest of the communities, they show up when they win and stay home when they are losing.

    Many people are living this fairy tale. And the second notion that Kahuku would win all the time if they kept all their homegrown talent is just as ridiculous. Why do you think these kids choose to go to a different school?

  13. sportsfan November 17, 2018 4:38 pm

    When you play the best, you learn from it and improve your game. Stay with the new system.

  14. Just Saying... November 17, 2018 8:53 pm

    Crusaders left no doubt again simple as that. Score could have easily been 49-7! RR nation, stop blaming it on Cal’s recruiting instead blame your Kahuku’s administration who already is looking for a new coach again. I also was looking forward to seeing the Haka and Tomahawk chant last night but Kahuku nation didn’t show up to support their team, very sad!

  15. HailFromDaNorth November 18, 2018 1:04 am

    Nah nothing, but love. Saint Louis is a hell of a team and Cal Lee is a hell of a coach. Yes, saint Louis must recruit to keep their program going, their a private school so it is what it is. Yes, the stability at Kahuku is a questions and I believe the community is getting tired of it. We had winning seasons with winning coaches and what happened? It’s sad man. Kahuku will be stacked for seasons to come. Let’s just stand by the coaches and support the team. Win or lose. All in all though we gotta embrace the rivraly and competition that’s the only way these boys are gonna get better and
    Compete with the mainland schools. Look at the bigger picture then just high school. Let’s grow star athletes that Hawaii can be proud of such as Tua, Marcus Mariota, Manti Teo. We all represent the middle island in the middle of the pacific. #HawaiiFootball

  16. GoIrish November 18, 2018 12:56 pm

    @HailFromDaNorth how you gonna leave out Alohi? He’s balling out. The whole state and kids benefit from a combined open division. The kids benefit from the competition. Kahuku will always have talent. All the administrative BS is what’s tearing you guys down. If Sol Jay doesn’t bail, wr have a much more interesting year. I hope the combined divisions continue and I hope Kahuku gets their house straightened up. I enjoy watching good high school football. Whether it’s St Louis vs Kahuku or `Iolani vs Waipahu. The division break up benefits the kids by providing a more level playing field and leads to great games that entertain us all.

  17. ToppDoggs November 18, 2018 5:21 pm

    Cal being humble, it was a massacre!

  18. HailFromDaNorth November 18, 2018 7:08 pm

    @GoIrish yes, I agree Alohi Gilman and many other Hawaii boys are balling out on the next level. I just gave a few examples I wish I could list them all, but my post would be too long lol. See I agree the open division and the 3 tier system really benefits the boys. Now the best play the best every week. Just like in Cal with the trinity league. And yes kahuku’s administrative stuff is a mess it’s sad and I hope they get it together quick or else we will see kids going to other places. But all in all guys the rivalry will always be there, and I hope we can all respect each other because when it’s all said and done, these boys will move on to that next level and they will shine at the next level because they had played against top competition. It’s like a sparring partner in boxing. You only get better when you spar the best and fight the best. Now let’s sit back and get ready for two good programs go at it next week. Good luck to the Trojans and The crusaders. Also look at DG3, he just got an offer from Georgia!! #TheHellWithTheDrama #TeamHawaii #PictureIsBiggerThanHighSchoolFootball

  19. Lou November 18, 2018 11:59 pm

    ILH, half stl.fans was North shore peeps supporting their sons. Tufaga,Welch,Latu,Wily plenty. We spread the talent. GoIrish, teo,toma and schweike all Laie boyz irish

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