The name is Tosh Kekahuna-Kalawe.
No. 4 in the white jersey, running routes diligently for the past two years on the Saint Louis varsity team was a largely unknown quantity. It wasn’t just the Punahou Buffanblu and the rest of the ILH who didn’t know much about Kekahuna-Kalawe. From the press box to the bleachers, more than a few spectators shrugged and wondered, who is this number 4 guy? Even Crusaders head coach Cal Lee, who runs his team’s defense, couldn’t exactly identify the junior slotback. Not with 20 pass catchers vying for playing time.
Tua Tagovailoa had no problem recognizing the elusive playmaker. Kekahuna-Kalawe scored on catch-and-run-to-paydirt plays of 37 and 63 yards as No. 2 Saint Louis rallied past No. 3 Punahou 64-44 in a wild, marathon shootout at Aloha Stadium.
Tagovailoa, arguably the top quarterback prospect in the nation, was quick to praise Kekahuna-Kalawe.
“He did amazing. Coming from second string to becoming a person who has to step up. He works hard in practice and he reaps what he sows. Everyone got to see that today,” he said.
Kekahuna-Kalawe finished with nine receptions for 185 yards and was one of five Crusaders to haul in at least three passes. Noah Alejado had eight grabs for 112 yards and two TDs.
“I was very surprised. It’s all of my teammates, my O-line,” Kekahuna-Kalawe said. “We got the win and I’m very happy right now. Last year, I didn’t play that much. I got in and I did my thing. He was putting a nice touch on it, and me watching it all the way in and scoring.”
He had entered the game with two receptions for 32 yards in their two previous contests.
Tagovailoa was at his proficient, efficient and explosive self, racking up a career-high 447 yards on 31-for-42 passing. The senior commit to Alabama hurled six touchdown passes without an interception, ran for three more TDs, including a 25-yard scamper between the hash marks. He also tossed a two-point conversion that tied the game at 36 in the second half.
In all, he rushed for 104 yards on 15 carries, totaling 551 yards from scrimmage. His 447 passing yards ranks second in school history, surpassing his 440-yard total in a win over Pac-Five two years ago. Jeremy Higgins set the mark with 484 yards in a victory over Kamehameha in 2008.
“Punahou’s always going to have a good defense. They have a great head coach. They’re great both sides of the ball. We just had to relax. Thank God we came out with the victory. We just had to find our rhythm. Lot of new things we put in.
While it was a breakout night for Kekahuna-Kalawe, there was another first for his quarterback: Tagovailoa actually slid at the end of a run. His coaches, including father Galu Tagovailoa, had harped on him to slide for ages. It was a nice slide on the synthetic, rubber-granuled turf of Aloha Stadium. A good gain and he avoided unnecessary contact from a physical Buffanblu defense.
“It was good, actually. I never practiced it. I’ve got to practice it,” he said.