Reviewing the hit that ended Yam’s season

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.

Kamehameha quarterback Thomas Yam was in the end zone with his third TD run as Saint Louis' Dylan Toilolo approached. George F. Lee / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Kamehameha quarterback Thomas Yam was in the end zone with his third TD run as Saint Louis DB Dylan Toilolo approached. George F. Lee / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Toilolo leveled Yam in the end zone after Yam scored on a 1-yard run. George F. Lee / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Toilolo leveled Yam in the end zone after Yam scored on a 1-yard run. George F. Lee / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Yam was injured with what turned out to be a broken collarbone, ending the talented sophomore's season. George F. Lee / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Yam was injured with what turned out to be a broken collarbone, ending the talented sophomore’s season. George F. Lee / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

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.


  1. Big Mauka September 16, 2015 3:58 am

    Wow! I saw the video an now the pic, leading with helmet, helmet to helmet call. Not so much late hit he was committed into it already, but yeah his cage is down kinda spearing gotta lead with the cage, bull your neck looking up. Too bad he got hurt, could beYam was lowering too causing him look down. But definitely helmet to helmet.

  2. fan 1 September 16, 2015 5:59 am

    All of a sudden everybody has an opinion on the play that injured the Kamehameha quarterback Yam, let the officials ref the game, sad to know the outcome of the injury. All night Yam was running that QB draw, sooner or later, great play, but from the coaches stand point why risk an injury to happen. He was going get hit one of these plays, I hope by watching videos & looking at pictures will give the officals some lead way on making calls. The infraction was a personal foul.

  3. DontCry September 16, 2015 6:54 am

    Football is football. Everyone is at risk of getting injured. Unfortunately, the quarterback’s injury ended his season. The hit was not intentional. It’s all a part of the game. So please, stop crying about shit that happens to everyone. Toilolo, as well as the rest of the Crusaders, received a penalty. End of story.

  4. Jordan September 16, 2015 6:57 am

    @fan 1
    Why risk and injury to happen? you don’t play the game thinking someone is gonna come lay your quarterback out after two to three steps in the endzone, let alone helmet to helmet. The play was working all night and Kamehameha was at the goalline with a chance to come in shot of one score. “You Play to Win the Game”. That’s why you make that call.
    If you get a stop after scoring (Like they did) you give yourself a chance to win.

  5. Karl Finley September 16, 2015 8:56 am

    “But on review he (Hawaii High School Athletic Association football officials coordinator Matt Sumstine) believes it was a ‘difficult call.'”

    Wait. Are you serious? A difficult call? Mr. Sumstine, please thoroughly review your 2015 NFHS rule book. And while your at it, please have your officials do the same. It was not a difficult call. Your officials actually got it wrong.

    The 2015 NFHS rule book Rule 2-20-1c states, “Spearing is an act by any player who initiates contact against an opponent at the shoulders or below with the crown (top portion) of his/her helmet.”

    So no, it was not a difficult call. The pictures clearly illustrate that the St. Louis player initiates contact with the crown of his helmet at the Kamehameha QB’s shoulders.

  6. Jerry Campany September 16, 2015 9:03 am

    To be fair, Sumstine was reviewing a video taken from high in the press box (presumably) and did say he wished he had a sideline angle. I am not sure you can see the spear from there with all of the blockers in the way. I didn’t talk to him, but I think he was addressing the late hit call that fans in the stadium were screaming for. Nick Abramo can probably expand on this.

  7. Karl Finley September 16, 2015 9:26 am

    Thanks Jerry for the response. Mr. Sumstine also said that he doesn’t see this as a foul. Does he mean any foul or just a late hit foul? Because if he doesn’t see this as any foul then he may need to review the rule book.

  8. 88 September 16, 2015 9:28 am

    Would you rather the kid hit the QB in the knees? From everyones comments you would think the QB was already standing in the end zone when he got hit. However that is not the case. It appears that he was in the process of crossing the line at the same time the defender was coming in for the hit.

  9. Karl Finley September 16, 2015 9:36 am

    Hitting the knees to a runner with the ball is legal unless you use the crown of the helmet.

  10. hwnstyll September 16, 2015 9:40 am

    A kid gets intentionally speared during a late hit and he is out for the season and your response is don’t cry? Wow. No contrition at all from school or staff, wow. Kids make mistakes all the time and nobody is perfect but most people apologize, especially when their actions injures someone. Football is a tough sport and injuries happen but when someone does an illegal hit on a kid a parent would hope a coaching staff would at least have enough respect for the other players and the game to admit it was wrong. Look at the pictures.
    Best wishes to a speedy recovery to all players on all teams.

  11. H7 September 16, 2015 9:42 am

    These responses are ridiculous. There was no targeting or head hunting! It’s football! It’s a contact sport. CONTACT. If you don’t want to get in to a sport with the possibility of getting hurt, take up ballet. It’s unfortunate the QB is hurt, but seriously everyone stop crying. Kamehameha lost. End of discussion. Come back in a few weeks and put in work!

  12. 88 September 16, 2015 9:46 am

    @KarlFinley; Trust me, getting hit on your shoulders is 1000 times better than getting hit on your knees and why QB draw at the goal line? I understand the play was working all night but you RISK injury to your 190lb 10th grade. I guess that was a RISK the coach was willing to take.

  13. Karl Finley September 16, 2015 10:13 am

    H7, it’s not targeting or head-hunting. But it’s clearly spearing. Refer to my post above for the rule.

  14. H7 September 16, 2015 10:58 am

    @Kirk I was referring to the above comments saying it was intentional. You can’t possibly know that. From what I saw, Yam wasn’t completely in the end zone like they say, nor was he on the ground when he was hit (, like they also accused). Like Sumstine says, it was just a hard hit! It was football.

  15. Nick Abramo September 16, 2015 11:52 am

    This message is mostly to Karl. Hi. To try and help clear things up, it should be known that Matt Sumstine was looking at a video from behind the offense and 45 degrees to the side on the same side as the hit. He wishes he had seen a sideline view. From the angle he saw, he said he did not see an infraction. He was somewhat reluctant to even go on the record because of the possibility of people misunderstanding, but he was generous enough to do it. Another thing that people should be aware of is that the story began with us taking a look at a play that people complained was a LATE HIT. Spearing was not even mentioned until we realized that our photographer did indeed have photographs of the play, and that was way late in the process. I agree, the still shot, looks like spearing, but it’s only a still shot and from my experience, it doesn’t tell the story nearly as completely as a video. Still, you may be correct. It could be spearing. Our reporter in the press box, Billy Hull, and our photographer, George Lee, both thought it was a late hit (and just to remind everyone, that was the original reason for the story) and we also got an email from a fan who thought it was a late hit. So, today, I might have the opportunity to watch the video, and maybe it will shed some more light on it. I think everyone should hold off on final judgment until they see the video. Apparently, the schools own the video and share it with others on HUDL, to which Sumstine has access. If we can get the video on our site, we will. If anyone has it and can give it to us, we would love to have it. Sumstine said it is play No. 173 on that video. Also, it would have been really helpful if someone from Kamehameha could have given their input. We reached out to the head coach, the athletic director and the parents and did not hear back.

  16. hwnstyll September 16, 2015 3:00 pm

    Pictures are worth a thousand words, or denial. Both feet in endzone and top of helmet being used. Late hit and spearing. This is not the 80’s, rules have changed. Nobody is talking about the outcome of the game, just the play that ended a teenagers year of playing a sport.

  17. princess peach September 16, 2015 3:06 pm

    well. don’t run a qb draw at the end zone.

  18. 88 September 16, 2015 4:01 pm

    Lets just make all the games two hand touch.

  19. Frankie G September 16, 2015 4:23 pm

    Start a hashtag to support what everyone’s comments are whining about #TwoHandTouchFootball2k15 becuz no can hit anymore without people complaining left and right

  20. EwaEwa September 16, 2015 8:25 pm

    It looks like the Kam QB started to slow down as he realized he was in the touchdown while the DB committed to make the hit from way back in his original position (5 yards away). I think the saying goes “Who ever is not going at 100% is going to get hurt”.

    Too bad the QB got hurt, however it should not be a penalty for a late hit but rather for spearing and leading with the crown of the head, which is a lame rule anyway.

    Everyone is right, football is becoming too much of a sissy sport, might as well play two hand touch, which, if the do may as well let girls play, at least have some eye candy for our entertainment.

  21. ReddestRaider September 16, 2015 10:11 pm

    Was the DB ejected?

  22. Biggz September 16, 2015 10:12 pm

    No foul on the play. It was a clean hit. Let the kids play and the refs ref the game.

  23. Areyouserious September 16, 2015 10:29 pm

    I can’t believe this is a story, why don’t we just over analyze every single call while we’re at it. And spearing? …Really? Instead of pads we should attach flags to their belts too.

  24. ReddestRaider September 16, 2015 11:00 pm

    Saw the video. QB crossed the end zone and was coming to a stop then he got speared with the top of the DB’s helmet. I didn’t see any attempt to wrap up and make a clean tackle. If the DB read and reacted to the run sooner he could have made the play behind the goal line but if he hit him the same way it still would have been a penalty according to the new rules. Early in the season Kahuku had a player ejected for 2 games for a tackle like that. The defender was already committed but instead of wrapping up he popped and pushed him back with his arms. Looked like a clean hit to everyone but the refs. Just be happy this boy didn’t get ejected and is allowed to play next week. I hope Kamehamehas QB heals up well.

  25. H7 September 16, 2015 11:35 pm

    Nick Ambramo, why are you entertaining Kameheha fans by trying to slander another young boys name? You posted three articles about this. Making this one big deal! What is the purpose? The game is over. Should we dig up all videos and analyze every hit that’s ever injured a football player? Is this really what football has come to?

  26. 3ple3et September 17, 2015 12:17 am

    For the people that say football is football and people get hurt. You are right. I know quite a bit of kids that won’t hesitate to take a 15 yard penalty to injure an opponent and take him out of the game. I won’t mention the school. I also hear the parent yelling for their kid to take out the opponent and when they do get hurt, the parents yell “Hashtag # Game Changer”, with excitement. For those who doubt, “WAKE UP”. You know it’s true and don’t want to acknowledge it.

  27. zero September 17, 2015 6:18 am

    “For the people that say football is football and people get hurt. You are right. I know quite a bit of kids that won’t hesitate to take a 15 yard penalty to injure an opponent and take him out of the game.”

    you’re already assuming that this is what the kid did: intentionally launch himself at the qb in order to injure him.

    if the kid flagrantly did that after the play was whistled dead with the intent to injure then yes, he should be suspended, kicked off the team, whatever. what i think is stupid is to parse EVERY picture of the play and try to manufacture a controversy where there might not be any.

    if it was a bang bang play with an injured player, then that’s unfortunate, but that’s also football. it’s a violent game. when you run qb draws and option plays, these things will happen.

  28. Nick Abramo September 17, 2015 8:25 am

    Hello H7. In answer you your question of why we ran three stories on this. Story No. 1: We reported the news that Yam was out for the season. Story No. 2: We reviewed the play with still photographs because many people claimed it was a late hit and we got the HHSAA head of officials to say that he didn’t think it was a late hit (which is vindicating the Saint Louis player and not slandering) Story No. 3: Video of the play (so all the readers can get a better look on this controversial play) that we were unable to get until Wednesday because only the schools had it. Thanks to the generosity and time of Cal Lee and his assistant coaches, we were able to get the video from Saint Louis. Cal gave us the video because he truly feels that it will further vindicate his player. I hope I answered your question. If not, let me know.

  29. Jay Gatoloai September 17, 2015 11:10 am

    3 DIFFERENT TITLE…SAME DAMN STORY!!!! keep grindin nephew!!! Prayers for Thomas Yam and his Family!!!

  30. Papakoolau September 17, 2015 8:57 pm

    All i know is Saints oline were getting owned second half. Center is the weak point . Saw 3 center changes that game. Kamehameha adjusted by spying Tua. Saw Kale Ane in the stands so if I could see that Im sure HE saw that too! Yam will bounce back next year! No worries. Would have been nice to see how well he would have done this season. Football is a contact sport! Yam knew that coming in just like Tua and the rest of the kids ! Comes with the territory!
    Prayers going out to Boogie.

  31. Crusaders September 17, 2015 11:53 pm

    Shouldn’t have the QB run any more. All trick plays were done and the only thing left to do was have theor young QB run. You make your QB, u pay the.consequences.

  32. Bill Rodgera September 18, 2015 11:47 am

    Big suprise. Last year it was Dylan Kane, this year its Yam. Wish Cal could win without putting teenagers at risk. 200+ yards in penalties in every big game.

  33. Katoosh08 September 22, 2015 3:00 pm

    Would like to see the video of kams last kickoff going out of bounds and the refs still spot it at the usual spot, Just another game where STL gets juiced by the refs. Do these refs get held accountable for anything?

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