Recent history repeated itself in Saint Louis’ shortened 28-0 victory over Kahuku at Aloha Stadium on Saturday night.
The No. 1 Crusaders, winners of the last three state championships in the Open Division, dominated despite playing just a half of football. Before last year’s meeting in the state semifinals, Saint Louis and Kahuku had never played in mercy rule conditions.
Saturday night’s game certainly appeared to be heading in that direction before a 15-minute delay occurred at halftime. A handful of the lights in the stadium bleachers went out, and after an extra 10-minute warm-up period, Saint Louis coach Cal Lee and Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho met at the middle of the field with officials and decided to call the game.
Unfortunately for Lee, he isn’t new to this. His team’s 2016 season opener at Mililani was cut short when a transformer blew at John Kauinana Stadium.
“As coaches, we agreed that if we’re talking the safety of our players and everything, to make a decision,” Lee said of the matchup against the Red Raiders on Saturday night. “And we agreed (to call it off). It was mutual.”
Lee and Carvalho were told there were no guarantees that the lights wouldn’t go out at some point during the second half.
“Mother nature. You cannot control the elements. Coach Lee and I were saying what’s first and foremost — the safety of the kids,” Carvalho said. “That’s what the discussion was about. The bottom line was what’s best for our players. It’s out of our control and we don’t know. We just want our kids to be safe, go home and be safe for the rest of the year as well.”
As for the two quarters where the two teams were able to compete against each other, what Carvalho saw was straightforward.
“Saint Louis is the defending champions. They are a top-10 team in the nation,” Carvalho said. “There’s a lot we can do better and a lot we can learn from this game even though it was a half.”
For two quarters, the Crusaders were in full control on both sides of the ball. Mason Taliulu and Jason Cruz each had short rushing touchdowns, while speedsters Roman Wilson and Koali Nishigaya hauled in touchdown passes from Jayden de Laura.
De Laura in particular had another impressive showing in a senior year full of them. He completed 14 of his 19 passes for 156 yards and added 47 yards rushing on six carries, showing impressive escapability on multiple would-be sacks. His first half produced a full game’s worth of highlights, placing himself even more prominently in the state offensive player of the year discussion like many noteworthy Crusader quarterbacks who have come before him.
“Yeah, I’m bummed, but we live to play another day,” de Laura said. “That’s good. We can go back, practice tomorrow, everyone’s kind of healthy so we can go back and work on our mistakes.”
Saint Louis’ defense was equally dominant. Star linebackers Jordan Botelho and Nick Herbig each had a sack, and the unit as a whole held the Red Raiders to 56 yards of total offense.
“We’re all hungry. We were waiting in that locker room to come out after halftime and just bring it again,” Herbig said. “It is what it is. We’re just happy with our first half play and we’re ready to go back.”