Kamehameha’s chances to win the Interscholastic League of Honolulu football title took a huge blow Saturday when sophomore quarterback Thomas Yam‘s season ended with a broken collarbone suffered in the fourth quarter against Saint Louis in the league opener for both teams at Aloha Stadium.
Yam had just scored his third rushing touchdown of the game to cut Saint Louis’ lead to 31-27 with 4:30 remaining when he was hit by Saint Louis defender Dylan Toilolo after crossing the goal line.
Yam stayed down on the field for a few minutes before eventually being helped to the sideline by the Kamehameha training staff.
Toilolo was whistled for a 15-yard personal-foul penalty that was enforced on the ensuing kickoff.
Yam appeared to find little resistance on the run up the middle and found the end zone relatively easily until he was drilled by Toilolo.
Saint Louis coach Cal Lee told Hawaii Prep World on Tuesday that he thought Toilolo was trying to make a play at the goal line and wasn’t sure why he was penalized. Some people who saw the play live thought it was a late hit, including at least one person who emailed the Honolulu Star-Advertiser sports staff about it.
There has been no confirmation on whether the personal-foul penalty was for a late hit or something else such as helmet-to-helmet contact.
Kamehameha coach Doug Cosbie did not return calls to give his side of the play, but Honolulu Star-Advertiser photographer George F. Lee was on hand and processed photos of Yam before, during, and after the hit.
Hawaii High School Athletic Association football officials coordinator Matt Sumstine, who has a vast amount of experience in training and development of officials and using video of football plays as a teaching tool, reviewed the play on a HUDL video for Hawaii Prep World on Tuesday. He was not at the game, but on review he believes it was a “difficult call.”
“When he (Yam) plants his left foot, he is not in the end zone,” Sumstine said. “Then he plants his right foot and he is in the end zone. By that time, the defender is already horizontal and committed to the contact.”
Sumstine said the HUDL video view is from behind the offense and about 45 degrees toward the sideline on the same side as the hit. He also said he would like to see a sideline view. The video is not available for Hawaii Prep World review yet.
“From the video angle that I have, I don’t see this as a foul,” he added. “But (very little) in football is black and white, especially a play like this. I understand that the official has to make a judgment in about two seconds. It was not a play in which the player was head-hunting. It was just a hard hit.”
The game was extremely physical on both sides with numerous penalties. Saint Louis lost running back Jonathon Manalo for the season with a leg injury and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa missed part of the fourth quarter with a sprained calf. Saint Louis offensive lineman Jacob Russell and Kamehameha defensive lineman Alema Kapoi were also banged up during the game.
There were nine personal-foul penalties called.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii Prep World reporter Billy Hull contributed to this story.