Saint Louis’ Tuitele plays through elbow injury

Saint Louis defensive lineman Faatui Tuitele, left, was congratulated by linebacker Noa Purcell after Tuitele's sack and safety on Punahou quarterback Stephen Barber during the first half of an ILH football game earlier this season. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser. (Sept. 16, 2017)

Saint Louis’ defense was effective again on Saturday night, with the only points it squandered being a safety by the offense. Backup quarterback Maika Bonner was sacked in the end zone, breaking up a shutout for the Crusaders.

But the defense did its job, allowing just 137 total yards in a one-sided 38-2 victory over Kamehameha at Aloha Stadium to clinch its third straight ILH Division I title. Noa Purcell recovered a blocked punt in the first quarter, adding to what has already been a stellar year for the senior linebacker.

Another encouraging sign for the Crusaders was the return of star defensive lineman Faatui Tuitele, who saw the field for the first time since playing the Warriors on Sept. 29. He missed the team’s previous game against Punahou on Oct. 7 with an elbow injury.

Listed as a game-time decision, Tuitele saw limited action against the Warriors with a large cast wrapped around his entire left arm. In a game that perhaps may not have needed his services, the junior was happy to get some reps heading into the state tournament.

“Oh, man. I’ve been practicing with (the cast) the whole week, so I was already used to it. But it felt great to get back on the field,” he said. “Missing that Punahou game, it was kind of hard but I was there to support my brothers. I gave it my all this week, just trying to get healthy and get ready for states.”

Tuitele says that the injury occurred during one the team’s practices, where he hit his elbow into one of his teammates and it got dislocated. That same night, he went to the ER and popped it back in.

Any doubt that he’ll miss any additional time was put to rest on Saturday night.

“I should be taking it off next week. I’m going to put in on a brace and I should be good,” he said. “I’ll rehab it from there and play at states, and hopefully it’ll get better.”

Tuitele is the No. 1-rated college recruit from Hawaii in the junior class and a top-100 player nationally.

Saint Louis, the unanimous No. 1 team in the state, won its third consecutive ILH title and will have three weeks off before playing the OIA runner-up in the Division I-Open state tournament semifinals at Aloha Stadium.


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