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.