Even with a young nucleus at the skill positions, the Narbonne Gauchos are explosively dangerous.
Saint Louis answered with a well-prepared defensive game plan, limiting the visitors from Harbor City, Calif. to 157 yards of total offense in a 47-7 blowout victory on Friday night at Aloha Stadium.
The Crusaders sacked Narbonne’s sophomore quarterback, Jaylen Henderson five times, all in the first half. Henderson, who finished 10-for-23, 118 yards with three picks, was greeted in the backfield by Jordan Botelho, then Nick Herbig and Liloa Kapiko, then Herbig a second time, followed by Kila Kamakawiwo‘ole and defensive lineman Gino Quinones.
The same offense that was fireworks on Sept. 23, 2017 in a 56-50 loss to Saint Louis never got untracked. In that game, the two programs combined for 1,115 yards, including 517 passing yards and five TDs by Gauchos quarterback Jalen Chatman. This time, Narbonne’s offense scored its lone TD on a fake-field goal run.
Senior Saint Louis defensive tackle Faatui Tuitele (6-4, 299) and his cohorts in the trenches lay the foundation down each week. He’s willing to bear the weight and free his teammates.
“We are always shooting for a shutout every game. We continue to aim to be the best defense in this state,” said Tuitele, who has 39 scholarship offers. “We have a lot of work to do, no doubt, but I am really proud of my front seven and secondary. We executed our assignments and did what we needed to do.”
In the middle of the mayhem, Tuitele absorbed the full frontal push of the Narbonne O-line. He has no desire to run free on the edges. He embraces his role.
“I wouldn’t trade being a D-lineman for anything in this world. Although we take on the blocks and free up our backs, that’s what it’s all about. Being a D-lineman in a 3-4 defense is about being unselfish,” Tuitele said. “It makes making plays that much more awesome.”
Narbonne has time to improve. They played 15 games in their championship campaign last season.
“Their line is good this year, too. A lot of big and physical guys. We had to adjust to their calls in the first quarter, but we eventually caught on to their play-calling and schemes,” Tuitele added.
Next up for Saint Louis is a showdown with one of the state’s most productive offenses.
“Now back to practice tomorrow morning to get ready for Mililani,” Tuitele said.