Between Nick Kapule and Stephen Barber, Punahou has more than enough pristine passing talent in the shotgun.
The two slingers also have a penchant for spreading the pigskin from sideline to sideline, taking what any defense gives. Kamehameha happened to give Punahou’s Judd Cockett more opportunities than he’s used to getting. Cockett, a 5-foot-11, 163-pound senior, slithered his way through the creases of Kamehameha’s active defense for five receptions and 103 yards, including touchdown grabs of 4, 8 and 44 yards to help turn Punahou’s 7-0 lead to a 28-7 cushion by the early minutes of the third quarter.
With Kamehameha’s defense pinning Punahou’s ground attack early — to the chagrin of Buffanblu coach Kale Ane — Kapule (17-for-31, 348 yards, five TD strikes) knew where to look.
“We were all really hungry to play. We had a bye for four weeks. We were anxious to play,” Kapule said. “We just take what the defense gives us. We knew they like to blitz a lot, so those hot reads, that’s why I hit Judd a lot. The corner blitzes. If he blitzes, it should be good. We watched a lot of film, so we knew that was coming. We’re just happy we got to play.”
Cockett was targeted eight times by Kapule and Barber, who combined for 37 total pass attempts. Cockett had one of his team’s two drops in an otherwise sterling performance against a talented, but young Kamehameha secondary.
Ethan Takeyama led the Buffanblu in receiving yardage with seven hauls for 146 yards and a TD. Keala Martinson had big gain after big gain, finishing with four catches for 84 yards, and Eamon Brady added three receptions for 63 yards. The Warriors seemed to zone in on deep threat Cole Arceneaux, but that may have opened up lanes for his teammates.
In all, Kapule and Barber finished with a combined 407 yards on 20-for-37 passing — a whopping 11 yards per attempt.
And yet, Ane wanted to see a bit more balance.
“We got a lot of kids in, that was nice to see,” Ane said. “I’m a little disappointed we couldn’t run it better, but at the end, we got a little bit of a running game in and we’ll try again next week.”
Punahou rushed for 118 yards on 25 carries, but the numbers belie early-game struggles on the ground. While the Buffanblu strive for the ground attack that Ane likes, there’s no question their passing game is humming on all cylinders. It’s arguably the most precise and efficient four-wide passing attack in a state that boasts some elite passers.
For now, they’ve shown they can overcome a blitzing defensive scheme by getting the ball out quickly without the added pass protection and route-running of a tight end, as they’ve shown over the years. Up next, possibly the finest defensive unit in the state: Saint Louis. The two ILH title contenders meet on Sept. 9 at Aloha Stadium.