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.
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