The top two players in the state still uncommitted square off head-to-head as Punahou OL Semisi Uluave (6-6, 315, Sr.) will try to hold off Mililani defensive tackle Rex Manu (6-2, 290) in the Division I state final.
As always, this is purely for fun. Each series is scored like a boxing round with a 10-point must system.
Uluave starts the game at center and helps on three straight double teams of Manu to open the game. Uluave goes after Mililani’s Kahewai Ka’aiawa’awa as Manu is isolated on Punahou’s left guard, Kana’I Keenan Eldredge. Mililani’s line is stretched out wide as Uluave has found himself with nobody really to block after a couple of snaps. Third-and-long and Uluave does his job on Manu but it’s incomplete and Punahou punts. Interesting first drive. Similar to what Kahuku did against Hilo when it moved Semisi’s cousin, Siotame Uluave, to center for the second half and it paid huge dividends. 10-9 Uluave.
Uluave finds himself up against the other Mililani DT, Ka’aiawa’awa, and stones him on the first play to lead to a big pass play. Manu finds no penetration either against Eldredge. Punahou ran a reverse and I was late getting focused on the line play. Point deduction for the author. Uluave with a double team on Ka’aiawa’awa and it’s a Punahou bomb for a TD. Absolutely no drive up the field by the interior of Mililani’s defensive line. None. 10-9 Uluave.
Uluave with a nice block on the reverse to Noa. Punahou runs behind Uluave, who has nobody to block, and Manu comes flying in behind him with a thunderous tackle on Taulapapa. Uluave again with nobody to block as Mililani widens its line. Manu whips Eldredge to Eldredge’s left. Thank goodness it was a quick pass or Tuliloa would have gotten laid out. Low snap from Uluave, who was worried about the double on Manu I think but Tuliloa turns it into a first-down run. Next play is a pick-six for Mililani. Nothing against Uluave on that drive but Manu made a couple of plays to get the round. 10-9 Manu.
Uluave doubles to his right and Manu nearly tips a pass at the line of scrimmage. Punahou tries a run behind Uluave who blows his guy down the field but it was two Punahou OL against one Mililani DL and the rest of the Trojans converge. Third-and-8. Encroachment Mililani. Third-and-3. Uluave gets out there for a screen but the ball was late, not sure, but it’s incomplete. Punahou punts. 10-10.
Quick pass on first two plays leaves not much going on up front. Uluave with nobody to block as Eldredge takes care of Manu one-on-one to end the first quarter. Uluave is the lone bright spot for the Buffanblu right now and is he is sealing off the middle on whoever he blocks. Double team on Manu works on incomplete pass to end zone. Uluave opens up a hole up the middle and Tuliloa follows him in for the TD. 10-9 Uluave. What’s up with these Uluave kids moving to center? Beasts.
Uluave opens up a huge hole for Taulapapa, who rumbles for 34 yards. Another big hole opened by this Punahou o-line. Timeout Mililani. Uluave does it again, blowing up Manu one-on-one to open another big hole for Taulapapa. Punahou finally goes straight ahead after Mililani widened out its line and it’s working. First-and-goal. Trojans bunch up inside for the run and Punahou tosses a TD pass. 10-9 Uluave.
First play is a run and Manu shields a block and makes the tackle. Tuliloa runs behind Uluave for a big gain as Manu stays one-on-one with Eldredge, the left guard. Quick pass results in nothing in the trenches. Man Uluave is just throwing people around down field on runs up the middle. Good blocks but a miscommunication in the backfield forces a fourth down. Replays made it looks like an easy first down for Punahou if Taulapapa gets a clean handoff. Fourth-and-4. Decision time for Punahou. The Buffanblu go for it. It’s a handoff up the middle. Great call as Uluave again clears the path and Taulapapa is in from 20 yards out. That call is made watching how Punahou’s offensive line has manhandled the interior of Mililani’s defensive line. 10-9 Uluave.
Buffanblu have the ball with less than a minute left yet it’s a run up the middle that goe sfor big yards. Manu finally gets off a block to stop Taulapapa and throws him down with a little extra at the end of the play. Punahou kicks a 53-yard field goal after Manu’s big stop. 10-9 Manu. It’s halftime.
Manu opens the second half shoving Uluave back but it’s a pass. Big run up the middle for a first down behind Uluave. Missed next play. Buffanblu going fast. Manu and Uluave go one-on-one and Manu holds up Uluave and gets off to make the tackle for little gain. Great play there by Manu. Second-and-10. Manu whips Uluave inside this time and hits the back but Tuliloa pulls it and first a pass for a first down. Uluave gets Manu back that time. They are really going back-and-forth taking each other’s best shots. Helluva war going on inside. Second-and-10. Manu tried to blow it up there but Uluave was just a tad better with help from his left guard. Third-and-5. First-down run as Taulapapa runs off Uluave’s left side. Manu has to come out for a breather. Tuliloa run up the middle. Surprised Punahou passes there on first-and-goal with Manu out. Uluave pushes forward and it’s a 5-yard run. Uluave delivers the pancake and Taulapapa is in. Uluave is the last man standing on that drive. That was crazy good stuff. 10-9 Uluave.
Manu back in the game but it’s a big run off his side for the Puns. Quick pass now. Mix-up in the Buffanblu backfield. Second-and-11. Eldredge misses a block but it’s a quick pass. Unbelievable block by Uluave who got the lineman with the right side of his body and then blocked the linebacker with his left side to spring Taulapapa for a big run. First-and-goal. Incomplete. Quick throw. Taulapapa up Uluave’s back for the TD. 10-9 Uluave. The best performance by an offensive lineman I’ve seen this year.
Manu doesn’t let Uluave get him to start this drive and bottles up the lane to force a run of no gain. Another fumbled exchange and it’s third-and-long. Punahou blocks the heat up the middle long enough for Tuliloa to get outside and scramble for a first down. Run play up the middle is bottled up. Manu heating up a bit. Run up the middle is stuffed. Fourth-and-5. Miscommunication on the quick throw and Mililani takes over. 10-9 Manu.
Taulapapa misses getting through the hole by a step. Both Uluave and Manu look exhausted. First down on a pass. Manu slides off the block and makes a tackle on Taulapapa. Manu gets his hands on Tuliloa on third down and forces the throw away. Punahou will punt. 10-9 Manu.
Final thoughts: It got so crazy at the end. The scorecards score this 7-4-1 in favor of Uluave, who had the best performance by a lineman I think I’ve seen all year. His blocking up the middle allowed running back Wayne Taulapapa to rumble for 260 yards on the ground, falling 11 short of the school record of 271 held by Ryan Tuiasoa. Manu came up some big plays to finally slow the Buffanblu down in a scoreless fourth quarter. Those two surely deserve the rest of the weekend to relax and heal up because that was as physical as it gets in the trenches.
PREVIOUS TRENCH WARFARES:
Oct. 4: Farrington’s Breiden Fehoko vs. Campbell’s Boss Tafai
Oct. 23: Mililani’s Rex Manu vs. Campbell’s Amosa brothers
Oct. 23: Campbell’s Josiah Mageo vs. Mililani’s Jordan Agasiva
Oct. 24: Punahou’s Canton Kaumatule vs. Saint Louis’ Fred Ulu-Perry
Oct. 24: Saint Louis’ Tanielu Evaimalo vs. Punahou’s Semisi Uluave
Oct. 31: Mililani’s Andru Tovi vs. Kahuku’s Salanoa-Alo Wily
Oct. 31: Kahuku’s Aleeki Vihimahi vs. Mililani’s Kaimana Padello
Nov. 7: Maui’s Logan Cabrera vs. Farrington’s Tatum Tanuvasa
Nov. 7 Hilo’s Kiliona Pomroy vs. Kahuku’s Siotame Uluave
Nov. 15: Mililani’s Rex Manu vs. Farrington’s Louis Matagi
Nov. 15: Farrington’s Breiden Fehoko vs. Mililani’s Derrick Fetui-Suapaia
Nov. 15: Punahou’s Canton Kaumatule vs. Kahuku’s Victor Tualau
Nov. 22: ‘Iolani’s Christian Naeole vs. Lahainaluna’s Danny Sulunga-Kahaialii
Nov. 22: Lahainaluna’s Connor Mowat vs. ‘Iolani’s Devin Ide