Preview: Kahuku-Punahou bonus

(Here’s a little more on tonight’s Division I title showdown between Kahuku and Punahou in the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA State Football Championships. The preview is in today’s edition of the Star-Advertiser.)

This matchup — a rematch of the 2005 title game won by Kahuku — offers vast opportunity for innovation. That’s where Punahou offensive coordinator Darryl Kan excels. Unlike Kahuku, which committed to a ground-and-pound game decades ago, Kan and the Buffanblu have stressed run blocking out of the pistol in addition to pass protection.

The result — Kahuku is far less comfortable in pass pro than Punahou. Yet, as Kahuku showed last week, it’s not always about creativity. Making clutch plays under the spotlight trumps all. On the North Shore, the memory of last year’s bitter finish — Kahuku was banned from the playoffs and state tournament by the Oahu Interscholastic Association over an eligibility issue — has turned to glee.

“The community is having practices on their own, learning new cheers,” linebacker Johnny Tapusoa said. “It’s getting pretty intense.”

“We can’t get caught up in the hype,” Torres cautioned. “If we get too emotional, we make more mistakes. That won’t be easy. It’s a work in progress.”

Tapusoa echoed the sentiment.

“There’s a lot of pressure on us, but we remind each other, don’t get in the hype and do what we need to do,” he said.

Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser


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