State tournament starts with special teams

Mililani's Andrew Valladares ran back a kickoff in a loss to Kailua. Jay Metzger / Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Mililani’s Andrew Valladares ran back a kickoff in a loss to Kailua. Jay Metzger / Special to the Star-Advertiser.

There have been 160 state tournament games since the first round of the first tournament began in 1999.

That is roughly the equivalent of a Major League Baseball season, so one might think that we have seen everything already. But every year we see something new.

B.J. Batts of Saint Louis was always a threat for a quick score.
B.J. Batts of Saint Louis was always a threat for a quick score.

Kanawai Noa of Punahou remains the only player to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown in a state tournament game, doing so after a penalty against Kahuku in 2014.

Plenty of players have returned kicks for touchdowns, but it has still never been the first act of a game. Lassalle Thompson of Kahuku came the closest to enjoying the feeling of walking out of the locker room and scoring immediately, opening the second half with a 95-yard TD against Farrington in 2012.

Former Saint Louis standout B.J. Batts is the reigning king of the kick return during the state tournament as the boy with the longest return at 99 yards against Castle in the 2002 championship and the only one to take it to the house twice during the state tournament.

Kick return touchdowns, state tournament games
B.J. Batts, Saint Louis, 99 yards
Ani Isumu, Farrington, 97
Lofa Liilii, Aiea, 97
Lasselle Thompson, Kahuku, 95
Jaylen Mitchell, Waianae, 94
BJ Batts, Saint Louis, 92
Kanawai Noa, Punahou, 83
Thomas Butenbah-Leong, Kaiser, 77
Breland Almadova, Iolani, 67

So will anyone add their name to the above list tonight? Kahuku and Saint Louis are off and the rest of the open teams don’t play until tomorrow, but you can be sure that coaches like Rod York of Mililani has told Andrew Valladeres and the rest of his special teamers that their third of the game will loom large. It always does.

There have been 10 punts returned for touchdowns, Kahuku’s Torian Taulogo is the only one who has done it twice.

Punt return touchdowns, state tournament
Jared Suzui, Castle, 74
Ikaika Ho, Castle, 71
Miah Ostrowski, Punahou, 71
Torian Taulogo, Kahuku, 60
Ro Wilson, Baldwin, 59
Solomon Matautia, Campbell, 58
Kainoa Wilson, Mililani, 54
Aaron Francisco, Kahuku, 53
Torian Taulogo, Kahuku, 48
Pono Vierra, Saint Louis, 44


  1. Ohhreally November 4, 2016 1:30 pm

    Dont forget the “The Return” by Torian taulogo in the state championship in 2003. I believe he returned it 50+ yds to the two yard line with 20 sec left on the clock.. although it wasnt a touchdown it lead to the final score that won the game. Unreal!!!

  2. AUWE November 4, 2016 2:35 pm

    Ummm if I’m not mistaken kanawai noa returned the opening kickoff against kahuku in the semis in 2014?? Well actually was after a penalty against kahuku on the kickoff and they had to rekick. But I would think it’s still considered the opening kickoff??

  3. AUWE November 4, 2016 2:39 pm

    And actually was punahous only touchdown. The rest of their scores were field goals.

  4. AUWE November 4, 2016 2:50 pm

    He also had the last INT of the game to seal the game and any chance of kahuku coming back to win it… Probably why he got the player of the game.

  5. Cabs November 4, 2016 6:11 pm

    Yes, Mr Jerry Campany, Noa returned the opening kickoff for TD

  6. Jerry Campany November 4, 2016 7:00 pm

    I’ll buy that, Cab and Auwe, I was taking the penalty into account. I will rewrite it tomorrow.

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