Punahou does it with defense, too

Punahou's Ronley Lakalaka is one of many key contributors to the Buffanblu defense this season. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Punahou’s Ronley Lakalaka is one of many key contributors to the Buffanblu defense this season. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Offensively, the Punahou football team is so efficient that it’s quite possible for the average fan to overlook the Buffanblu’s defense.

Opponents ignoring their rock-solid unit would be making a serious mistake.

The biggest testament to their fortitude is that they only gave up a touchdown to Saint Louis’ potent run-and-shoot offense, the same offense that put up 47 points a few weeks earlier in a loss to Mililani, last year’s state Division I runner-up.

Alas, top-ranked Punahou (2-0, 2-0 ILH) is the defending D-I state champion and it is committed to retaining that crown.

Earlier this year, wide receiver Kanawai Noa one of the Buffanblu’s top offensive threats, gave this alert, “We want to be known as the hardest hitting team in the state.”

Well, so far, so good. One TD pass and 189 yards from scrimmage yielded against Saint Louis. One TD pass and 107 scrimmage yards given up against Damien.

Punahou’s run defense, spearheaded by the front seven, has been remarkable — 90 yards allowed in the two games combined and no rushing touchdowns.

And lots of players are contributing to the resolute defensive unit, including the highly acclaimed 6-foot-7, 290-pound defensive end Canton Kaumatule. Defensive ends Jerrod Mose and Akahi Troske, linebackers Saitui Moeai and Ronley Lakalaka, and defensive backs Dayson Watanabe and Dane Ku Blake are among those who have made an impact.

Randon Oda, who returned an interception 44 yards for a touchdown against Saint Louis, has also shined.

“We’re never completely satisfied,” Buffanblu defensive coordinator Agenhart Ellis III said. “But we’re totally pleased with the way the kids are playing their hearts out. I have a real good feeling about our defense.”

The Punahou offense has been running smoothly. Ephraim Tuliloa threw for 441 yards against Saint Louis, and Nicholas Kapule, in place of an ill Tuliloa, passed for 256 yards against Damien.

Noa scored on three long passes against the Crusaders, and he made some dazzling moves during a 66-yard punt-return TD against the Monarchs.

Wayne Taulapapa and John LeClaire have given the necessary punch to the Buffanblu’s rushing attack.

St. Francis (2-2, 0-2) is next on the Punahou schedule on Saturday at the Buffanblu’s campus field. A bye week follows and then Punahou plays another home game against ‘Iolani on Sept. 26.

Further down the line, a big showdown against ILH D-I contender Kamehameha is at Aloha Stadium on Oct. 10, with the ILH playoffs to follow a week later.


  1. Smoking Duck September 11, 2014 2:24 am

    How can Ephraim Tuliloa have thrown for 441 yards against Mililani? Punahou hasn;t played Mililani this year.

  2. Smoking Duck September 11, 2014 2:44 am

    I never knew Punahou played Mililani this year.

  3. boydhale September 11, 2014 5:30 am

    Their best d-linemen include Joe Saula (all-league mention last year), the 300+ lb mountain in the middle Patamo Soa, and Saili Petaia. Not sure how you mentioned Troske and Mose before them. As far as DBs, what about their starting safeties, Straton and Matias? Blake isn’t even one of the top 5 corners. And no mention of Kalama Chung? He was a first team ILH LB last year. Nick, do your research before posting. I hope you weren’t just going off of who was playing in the second half against Damien when the mercy rule was already in effect.

  4. Critical Reader September 11, 2014 8:20 am

    If Kalama Chung is healthy and playing, then he should have been discussed at length in any discussion of the Punahou D. He’s the qb of the PunD. Wanna see high football IQ? Watch that kid.

  5. Billy Hull September 11, 2014 10:24 am

    It’s fixed. He was obviously talking about Saint Louis, which played Mililani.

  6. Husky77 September 11, 2014 10:28 am

    And the offensive line, going against this tough defensive 7 everyday in practice, has quietly become dominant.

  7. Observer September 11, 2014 11:27 am

    I can see how this would be upsetting to those who follow the Buffanblu. I’m sure everyone likes to read about their favorite players and when they’re not mentioned it’s a shame because they work hard and are the Aces of the deck! I agree on that note. Although let’s not be so fast to take recognition away from other players who have earned the right to be mentioned here. The writer has called them “contributors” and that they made an “impact” during these first two games. Mercy rule or not, don’t discredit the hard work of these other players who also work hard at practice on a daily basis. If you really folkowes the whole game you’ll see that the players mentioned here all played in the 1st half before the Mercy rule.

  8. Nick Abramo September 11, 2014 6:06 pm

    Hello Smoking Duck … no excuse. Meant to write “against Saint Louis.” Thanks for the fix, Billy.

  9. Nick Abramo September 11, 2014 6:10 pm

    Hello Critical Reader:

    Thanks for the head’s up on Kalama Chung. Will keep an eye on him when I cover Punahou again. I saw them beat Damien and the players who I observed made big plays were mentioned in the article.

  10. Nick Abramo September 11, 2014 6:12 pm

    Hello observer: Good observations. You are correct, imo, that the players written about were contributors who made an impact. Nothing more or less and leaving other people out was not intentional.

  11. Nick Abramo September 11, 2014 6:15 pm

    Thanks for the post, boydhale. I agree that there are other Punahou players who deserve to be mentioned.

  12. Football Knowledge September 11, 2014 10:10 pm

    I agree with Critical Reader, Kalama Chung should be the first name mentioned. He led team in tackles last year and is also this year. He runs that D. He is the run stopper on that team, second to none.

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