ON THIS DATE IN 1978: Punahou’s John Kamana tries tailback on for size

On this date in 1978, John Kamana carried Punahou to a 27-21 win over Iolani.

Kamana was one of the ILH’s best receivers before dotting USC’s famous I formation as a tailback against Iolani. All Kamana did from there was rush for 200 yards, return a kickoff 85 yards for a TD and and add 15 yards receiving.

That performance left reporter Ferd Lewis to utter his name in the same breath as all-time greats Mosi Tatupu of Punahou and Ed Kini of Saint Louis. Kamana was only the second Buffanblu to rush for more than 199 yards, Tatupu achieved the feat three times.

Boy Eldredge, who caught a touchdown pass, was credited with leading the way for Kamana along with offensive linemen Tom Topolinski, Tom Mullen, Saichi Oba, Ben Karnuth, Matt Martinson and rotating centers Quentin Kawananakoa and Carl Iwasaki.

Punahou snapped a three-game losing streak despite 10 penalties for 142 yards while disciplined Iolani committed five for 41 yards.

Eventual ILH champion Saint Louis beat Pac-Five 30-15 in the other game, with Wayne Apuna coming a catch short of Steve Hookano of Kamehameha’s career record. Kamehameha shut out a game Damien squad 14-0.

Kamana, a sophomore, finished his prep career with 11 letters and seven state championships despite not playing football in 1979 because of injury. He moved on to play at USC with Marcus Allen, Bruce Matthews and Ronnie Lott before a brief stint in the NFL.


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