Punahou and Mililani arrived at Aloha Stadium on Friday night each with four shutouts this season. So it stood to reason points might be tough to come by in the OIA-ILH Open Division duel.
Even so, the Buffanblu’s fifth came was a welcome surprise for Punahou coach Kale Ane.
“They’re a good team, they’ve got a lot of multiple threats, so I would have never expected to have a score like this,” Ane said after No. 2 Punahou’s 3-0 win over the third-ranked Trojans to close the regular season.
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Quinn Maretzki’s 40-yard field goal in the fourth quarter represented the lone score in the defensive slugfest that reminded Ane, a former Michigan State offensive lineman, of his playing days in the Big Ten.
“It was back and forth, low scoring, lot of running, a lot of tough calls both ways,” Ane said. “It was kind of fun to be part of that again … but only because we won.”
Punahou closed the regular season at 9-1 overall (7-1 ILH Open) having surrendered just 77 points. The Buffanblu’s season high for points allowed remains the 25 Saint Louis scored on Sept. 20, which also represents the Crusaders’ lowest output of the year.
In order to get another shot at Saint Louis, Punahou will first have to get past Kamehameha in a rematch of a 15-5 Buffanblu win on Aug. 16.
“That’s a tough game,” Ane said. “They’re getting better, they have good athletes, Abu (Maafala) does a good job getting them motivated. Their whole season hinges on one game. It’ll be a dogfight.”
Mililani hadn’t been shut out since 2000 and saw a streak of 213 games with a score end with Friday’s result.
“They’re tough, give credit to Punahou,” Mililani coach Rod York said. “They’re a tough defense, not to many people score on them. The penalties and miscues just killed us, but that’s on me, we have to correct it and we will.”
Mililani’s defense was equal to the task for most of the night, keeping the Punahou offense out of the end zone for the first time this season.
“Awesome,” York said of the Trojans’ defensive performance. “We gave up three turnovers, two picks early in the first half, and the defense bailed us out.”
The Trojans mounted one of the game’s few red-zone threats in the third quarter on a drive to the Punahou 8. But the Buffanblu forced a fumble that junior linebacker Nathaniel Kia pounced on at the 5 for one of his two fumble recoveries of the night.
“I was getting off the ball, I got the chance to blitz and the screen came,” Kia said, “Alaka’i (Gilman) had a nice hit and the ball went loose and I just saw it and jumped on it.”
Mililani matched zeroes with Punahou through three quarters and had the Buffanblu backed up facing a third-and-35 on their 20. A seemingly conservative play call — a draw to running back Vincent Terrell — ended up being the offensive highlight of the night.
Terrell found running room up the middle then cut outside and hit the sideline before finally being stopped just a yard short of the marker. He then converted on fourth-and-1 and although Mililani eventually halted the drive, Punahou had driven deep enough for Maretzki to drill the decisive field goal.
“As a defensive coach we’re always saying ‘screen, draw, screen, draw,’ when it’s third-and-long,” Ane said, “and you don’t expect it to work like that, but Vince is really an impact player. We made just enough blocks to turn him loose and we had a chance on fourth down so that was really a turning point for us.”
The Punahou defense then held off the Mililani from there to preserve that fifth zero of the season.
“Coming into the game we knew what our defense was about,” Kia said. “So (it was) just holding up to that standard.”
That’s what happens when Mililani’s QB only throws and gives the ball to the SAME players. Punahou’s D is gonna catch on and cover those receivers. But I don’t blame the players, I blame the poor offensive coaching. No adjustments AT ALL. And that is why STL is gonna take it all AGAIN.
Offense looks un organized , doesn’t look sync, same plays called , only throwing to one guy , it’s an easy mililani offense stopper , no scheme. I seen the mililani head coach slam his head set several times in the game against Punahou . That coach has no class.
After watching Mililani vs Punahou it’s clear St. Louis will be champs again.