Saint Louis edges closer to Kahuku’s record number of top-tier state championships

Saint Louis linebacker Nick Herbig (19) recorded one of the Crusaders' nine sacks against Kahuku. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

With Friday night’s 45-6 win over Kahuku to end the prep football season, the Saint Louis Crusaders inched even closer to the Kahuku Red Raiders.

The win brings a seventh koa trophy to Kalaepohaku, just one shy of Kahuku’s record of eight in the top-tier state championship. In 21 years since the first state tournament was held, Kahuku and Saint Louis have combined for 15 state titles and each have won more than every other school in the state combined.


The gap between the two schools has never been as wide as it looked in Friday’s finale of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA State Football Championships at Aloha Stadium. Saint Louis’ 39-point win was the largest margin of victory ever in a state final in the top division. Only once (Punahou beating Leilehua 38-7 in 2008) had a team won the title by more than 30 points.

Nonetheless it was all one big relief for Coach Cal Lee, who added a fifth state championship to his personal collection that includes 14 Prep Bowl victories.

Any loss potentially suffered by the Crusaders (12-0), who have won 38 in a row and and are ranked sixth in the nation, would have been a monumental upset.

“Now that it’s over I am so happy for the players,” Lee said. “It was a long season. I’m really proud of the way they responded through the season to end beating a team like Kahuku is a tremendous blessing.”

Lee knows first-hand how beating Kahuku is never a given. The Red Raiders upset Lee’s Crusaders in the 2000 final in the first of five straight wins over Saint Louis in state finals.

It’s a number hard to believe. From 2000 to 2015, Saint Louis went 0-5 against Kahuku with a koa trophy on the line.

That has since changed beginning with Tua Tagovailoa‘s signature win of his prep career, beating the Red Raiders in 2016. A year later, Chevan Cordeiro made one of the most memorable throws in the history of the state tournament when he hit Jonah Panoke for a 53-yard TD in the final minute of a 31-28 win over the Red Raiders.

The Crusaders haven’t lost a game since 2016 and that nail-biter against Kahuku has been replaced with Friday’s blowout.

So many seniors had a hand in the win. Senior quarterback Jayden de Laura, who finishes his career 22-0 as a starter, ran for two touchdowns and threw for 280 yards, with an 86-yard TD to fellow senior Roman Wilson on the game’s second play.

Senior linebackers Nick Herbig (2 1/2 sacks, 5 1/2 tackles for loss) and Jordan Botelho (1 1/2 sacks) accounted for four of the team’s nine sacks. Saint Louis had 18 tackles for loss.

Five of the team’s top six leading tacklers and all four receivers who had positive receiving yardage are all seniors.

It’s a special group with some of them able to say they played in all four state finals.

“It feels great. It’s our four-peat and we played hard tonight,” Botelho said.

The schools this senior class will head off to are impressive. There’s Notre Dame (Botelho), Michigan (Wilson), Wisconsin (Herbig), Utah (safety Kamo’i Latu), UCLA (receiver Matt Sykes), Cal (defensive lineman Stanley McKenzie) and Washington State (de Laura). Seven players from one school in Hawaii headed to Power Five schools.

It’s also a lot to replace come 2020. With so much uncertainty ahead now that the two-year pilot program between the OIA and ILH has come to an end, the landscape of prep football in Hawaii could look a lot different come next August.

One thing is for sure, however. No matter how many seniors the Crusaders lose, there is plenty of talent left behind. Rebuilding? Not at Saint Louis. Not when you’ve won 38 straight.

No matter what prep football looks like in 2020, the Crusaders will still be the team everyone is chasing.


  1. clueless big sluggish December 2, 2019 2:54 pm

    prep bowls are state championships buddy. do the math again and see whos way behind. oh yah did you forget, kahuku also set the record in two categories, being shut out 0 (doughnuts) and being mercy ruled. how embarassing is that.

  2. Coach Lou December 2, 2019 8:50 pm

    Clueless. Prep bowl was an Oahu Championship and not States. When States started., outer island played in tourney. It’s still is States because outer island opt out. So get a clue. No worry about the 0 or mercy rule. I think the most loser attitude was when Cal Lee took his team home after the 2015 State lost. That was a big 0 and cowardly thing to teach your players. Why, because his former players Tata and Hao kicked a field goal with 1 minute left. Lol, that’s loser. What happened to “the brotherhood” for life love? Lol. So funny you guys.

  3. Speechless December 3, 2019 8:47 am

    what about the following year when tata walked off before the game even finished lol. Yes oahu championships is state championships you fruit. Aint no other island gonna win the championship you clown. you one clown typing behind the computer that never played the game. Guys like you ruin it for Kahuku’s community.

  4. Red Raider From the Heart December 3, 2019 8:57 am

    You know, I’m a proud Kahuku alumni and former player. It bugs me to see a few Red Raider fans on here complaining about recruiting, they cheat, the referee’s etc…… I do believe there are people in the community that ruins it for the true Red Raider from deep inside. We lose we lose, crying, complaining and blaming doesnt solve anything. Yes Saint Louis has been the better team these past years and it is what it is. But what are we doing about it? Saint Louis, Punahou, Iolani etc…. i can go on more, but these are private schools, they have no district , so kids can come from every part of the island. All i have to say is we got to be proud of our boys and congratulate the crusaders for a well oiled coached team with athletes. It bothers me that we dont change anything, we continue to try and run the ball against teams like Saint Louis , Punahou, even Mililani shut us down. We cant even throw the ball. We need good coaching , we have the players to beat the crusaders and Puns if coached correctly. The admin . needs to look further down, because what we have now , will only be just enough for the big dance, but not to win it. Sad but i feel everything that I’m saying , i hope some of the people in the community agrees. My first and last and only post. God Bless

  5. Lou December 3, 2019 1:18 pm

    Speechless. In 2016 Kahuku lost. The team stayed on the field. Tata I don’t know. Maybe it’s a brotherhood thing. In any case he wasn’t really around for anything else. Lost for words. And also it was the OAHU PREP BOWL not STATE PREP BOWL, clown.

  6. Kimo December 3, 2019 4:30 pm

    I believe the Prep bowl was the State Championship. Once again when we switched to the new format the neighbor island teams were added. But it has always been #1 OIA VS #1ILH. St. Louis has won way more State Championships than any other school period.

  7. ILH REPN December 5, 2019 12:08 pm

    this is a hilarious subject, Saint Louis edges closer to Kahuku. Im out of my seat laughing so hard. This subject shouldve said, St louis pull further away from Kahuku on being state champions. As Saint louis has about 22 or 23 to Kahuku’s 8, almost 3 times the amount lol. What a joke. I dont care what anybody says, obviously the kahuku people to make themselves feel better will say they have more state championships but in reality, real people know prep bowls are state championships. and Im out .

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