There wasn’t anything pretty about No. 1 Saint Louis’ 23-12 victory over No. 5 Kamehameha on Friday night at Aloha Stadium.
And it suited Saint Louis linebacker Noa Purcell just fine.
Six days after the Crusaders won a shootout, 56-50, over Narbonne (Calif.), the offense was bottled up for much of the game by a bend-but-don’t-break Kamehameha defense.
The Warriors gave up 376 passing yards to Saint Louis quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, but forced three turnovers, including one in the red zone.
That put the Crusaders defense to the test, and after giving up 50 points for the first time since 2015, they responded despite being short-handed due to injuries.
The only touchdowns Saint Louis gave up came on the final play of the first half after a blocked punt put the ball on the Crusaders 3-yard line, and in the final minute of the fourth quarter with the game well at hand.
“Coming back this week we had to work harder after giving up 50 points,” Purcell said. “There’s a tradition to this Saint Louis defense and giving up 50 points is unacceptable. We know Kamehameha is a good team and their (offensive line) is great, good size. We had to step up.”
Purcell said the defense took it personally the way Narbonne lit it up on offense.
Kamehameha had its starting quarterback, Thomas Yam, as healthy as he has been all season in ILH play after injuring himself in the Warriors’ final nonleague game against Carson (Calif.).
Yam was 19-for-36 for 239 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a TD, but threw a crucial interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Junior Kamo’i Latu made a diving pick for Saint Louis, which used a lot of different players in the game due to injuries.
“We had some guys that were hurt and didn’t play, but nonetheless, the emphasis was to pick up our game on defense this week,” Saint Louis coach Cal Lee said. “I thought they played a little better. Hopefully next week they get a little better.”
Although No. 2 Kahuku scored an impressive 45-6 win over Campbell to clinch the OIA Blue, Saint Louis will likely remain the unanimous No. 1 team in the state.
As always, there is plenty of work left to do according to Lee, but he was happy to get a bunch of players some quality playing time in a tough game.
“You never know, you could get a cold and can’t play, so you have to give a lot of the underclassmen a chance to play,” Lee said. “We’re happy with the guys that filled in. We had some injuries and hopefully they will be back next week, but it’s football, you always have those things.”