Saint Louis prepared for Saturday’s main event

St. Louis offensive lineman Eliki Tanuvasa, right, worked through a drill at practice on Thursday. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

Friends and family gathered around the Saint Louis football players after practice Thursday at the school’s campus.

It was a picture-taking moment. Brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, girlfriends, grandfathers. A big gathering.

It was an important moment. The season is almost over. Another important moment comes Saturday, when the Crusaders (9-0) put their 14-game winning streak on the line in the Open Division state championship.

It comes, as usual, against Kahuku (11-1). It’s the third year in a row the two teams will meet in the big game, and 13th overall with bragging rights up for grabs.

The last two years, the underdog going in won it all. Kakuku took it in 2015, 39-14, and Saint Louis got it back last year, 30-14.

Once again, it could come down to Kahuku’s trademark defense and Saint Louis’ high-powered offense.

Eliki Tanuvasa, the Crusaders’ starting center, knows a lot is riding on the line play. If Kahuku’s defensive front seven gets in on quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, it could be a long night.

“I believe the game is going to come down to the trenches and if we are going to win it’s going to come down to how our O-line does,” Tanuvasa said after Thursday’s practice. “If we can block their front four and pick up all their blitzes, then we can (be productive). If we don’t do good, we’re going to lose that game. I think it’s really going to come down to our whole O-line. We prepared a lot this week. We just gotta be ready for them. Kahuku is a great team. They’re coached up very well. They play hard and aggressive. We’ve gotta come in this game with our foot on the pedal.

“We were underdogs last year, and I think we were more hungry than they were and I think that’s what gave us the edge. So for this year, since they’re the underdogs, we’ve got to come out even harder. Anything can happen.”

Tanuvasa is a three-year starter, but he was hurt for the state final two years ago.

“My sophomore year, it was a deflating loss,” he said. “We learned not to take anybody lightly and always come out 100 percent. My junior year, the thing I remember the most is seeing that clock wind down and knowing that for a whole year we can say we were number one, that we’re the state champs.”

Both teams will be gunning for that feeling Saturday at Aloha Stadium.

Faatui Tuitele is one of the important cogs in the Crusaders’ defensive front seven. Cindy Ellen Russell / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Saint Louis defensive line stalwart Faatui Tuitele, a junior with 18 division I offers, has a lot of faith in the O-line on the other side of the ball.

“The O-line leader is Eliki Tanuvasa,” Tuitele said. “Man, that guy is a workhorse. He’s an animal, nice leverage, lengthy and strong at the same time, hard to get by. I think he’s one of best centers in the state.”

Tuitele, who knows that he and his defensive mates will need to disrupt Kahuku quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava and put a stop to running back Enoch Nawahine and others in order to come out victorious, was nervous going into last year’s game.

“I had the jitters,” he said. “Our defense was good last year, too. We went out there and we just did what we do best and gave it our all. There were a lot of ups and downs in that game. We made our adjustments. That Kahuku team was a good team, no doubt, and they’re good this year, too.

“Playing in this rivalry is a great honor. Everybody knows this rivalry. We’re not playing for just ourselves. We’re playing for all the Crusaders who have played in this game before. We’re not taking them lightly. Everybody has got to do their jobs to be successful.”

Next up: A report from Kahuku’s Friday practice.


  1. TooMeke November 17, 2017 8:09 am

    Great article. Should be a great game. Best vs Best. As it should be.

    Hopefully the refs have their eyes wide open when it comes to holding – especially after what I saw in the St Louis – Mililani game…it was more like refs were asleep when obvious holding was going on by St Louis’ O-line.

    Don’t get me wrong – refs can call holding pretty much every down… but try not to miss the OBVIOUS holds that my grandma in her grave can see.

    Is it game day yet?


  2. Knation November 17, 2017 9:51 am

    He’s right. It’s going to be who wins in the trenches and kahuku oline faces a dline that was manhandling mililani oline from beginning to end. St.louis dline it self was pressuring Gabriel all night.

  3. Coach C November 17, 2017 10:15 am

    Keys to this one is for Kahuku D to get to Cordero. Better DBS for Kahuku and faster dline and lbs. Kahuku also have ample D reserves to sub on different D situations. Again, clock management on O. Gabriel threw the ball a whopping 51 times. Using Olomua on both sides of the ball with crazy hitting going on is crazy. With the exception of Kaniho, no Kahuku players go both ways. The D will need a minimum of 3 turn overs. The O will need sustained drives. The special teams need perform. Good luck to All. Nice to have linemen getting an article. It will be a great game folks. Let’s take a moment to be courteous as these players deserve it. Aloha.

  4. 88 November 17, 2017 11:00 am

    Knation is right. The Crusaders front 7 were having their way with Mililani’s OLine. While our front 4 Struggled against Mililani. Big #92 needs to have the game of his life if we are to be successful against the Crusaders. Been waiting all year long for this kid to take over a game… let’s go boyz

  5. 88 November 17, 2017 4:53 pm

    Cousins, if I was the coach, I would go old school and run the 46 defense and wing t. We would guarantee win. I am that good. I also invented the Veer Offense. Remember the Titans was loosely based on my coaching career.

  6. Just Saying... November 17, 2017 6:08 pm

    Kahuku’s RR Nation “Haka” is worth the admission tomorrow night but that’s about it folks. The Koa is staying on the slopes once again. Crusader’s just have too much speed at the skilled positions and their defense will chasing SJ all night.

  7. Tiu November 17, 2017 7:12 pm

    Game ain’t played yet folks, stay humble people. GO BIG RED

  8. 88 November 17, 2017 8:25 pm

    I invented both the Haka and the Tomahawk Chop. I also invented the Elephant package. Two years ago when Coach Leslie left and Coach Tata took over, Coach Tata called me up for advice. I told him to pound em hard with the Elephant package. I went over to his house and drew it up for him.

    Kahuku Nation can thank me for the last state title.

  9. 88 November 17, 2017 10:08 pm

    Whaaat… You went over to his house and elephant 🐘 style. Now that’s some funny stuff clown. Good job.

  10. Recruit dis November 17, 2017 10:52 pm

    Hawaii prep world please ban 88 from this site. His a dumb ass that’s just making trouble for everyone else.

  11. Kamehameha#1 November 18, 2017 6:24 am

    St. louis Defense is the best I’ve seen in Hs football. Just too bad Kahuku doesn’t have a better quarter back cause they definitely have good receivers. St. louis 45-17

  12. anywaaaays!! November 18, 2017 3:50 pm

    Kamehameha #$1/Education First, stop spewing your hate on Kahuku. I don’t know why people like you hate Kahuku so much but I’m getting sick of your multiple user names. All you do is talk trash about Kahuku fans and players. When Kahuku brings the title back to La’ie tonight and everyone in your private schools leaves because they lost all their football prestige, don’t come crying to me.

    Some things in life are more important than an “education.”

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