Tufaga burns hometown team once again

Former Saint Louis safety Isaiah Tufaga is coming home to play for Hawaii. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

For the second year in a row, Saint Louis safety Isaiah Tufaga made a game-changing play against his hometown team on the biggest stage possible.

In Saturday night’s 31-28 victory over Kahuku in the Open Division final of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships, the Laie native intercepted Red Raiders’ quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava for a 40-yard touchdown that gave the Crusaders a 24-7 lead with 5:30 remaining in the third quarter.

“Shoutout to my teammates for doing what they did so I can do my part,” Tufaga, the Oregon State and 2018 Polynesian Bowl commit said. “It was just breaking on the ball, doing my job and that’s what I did.”

In last year’s state title game between the two teams, Kahuku was on the 1-yard line trailing 16-14 in the fourth quarter. With a chance to take the lead, current Oregon State freshman Kesi Ah-Hoy fumbled right before crossing the plane. Tufaga was there to snatch the ball out of the air in the end zone, and the rest was history. The Crusaders scored two more touchdowns en route to a 30-14 win.

After Tufaga’s pick-six on Saturday night, the momentum seemed to have swung entirely in the direction of the Crusaders. But if there’s anyone who understands the resiliency of the Red Raiders, it’s him.

“It’s always a great feeling to go up against all my friends and family, but at the end of the day we gotta do what we gotta do,” he said. “Shoutout to the community of Kahuku and Laie for raising me to be the man that I am today.”

The senior became one of the men of Kalaepohaku as a freshman in high school, and he still makes the commute from the North Shore to Kaimuki every day.

In the aftermath of three consecutive championship game matchups against the same players he grew up with, Tufaga closed out his prep career by taking the last two. Moving forward, he knows he’ll take pieces of both communities with him.

“It hasn’t hit me yet, but overall it’s a great blessing for us and my family, teammates, all the Saint Louis alumni and everyone who supports us,” said Tufaga, who added seven tackles in the game.


  1. Bumbuchas November 20, 2017 5:00 am

    St. Louis recruited well, mixed feelings about media highlighting a high school “Recruit”. At the end of the day, It did work out well for both St Louis & Isaiah, unfortunately not for Kahuku. Nothing worse then having one of your own being a factor in getting beat.
    Great game! Both teams contributed to make it a game for all ages!

  2. 88 November 20, 2017 5:31 am

    This kid did not burn his community. He along with #20 and #40 make our community proud and they helped open doors for other other kids in our community to attend ILH schools. These kids are our sons, grandsons and nephews. Congratulations again to the Crusaders.

  3. TooMeke November 20, 2017 6:00 am

    Congrats to this young man!! Good luck with your future!! Thank you for showing everyone the top level talent coming outta da North Shore!

    Congrats again to St Louis!! You came up with the big play when it counted most!

    Proof positive St Louis wouldn’t be where they’re at EVERY YEAR (especially those Prep Bowl years) without boys from Big Red Country!! (He wasn’t the only player from Hauula-Laie-Kahuku who was a key starter/contributor for St Louis last night – Your WELCOME Crusaders).


  4. rrforlifebaby November 20, 2017 8:36 am

    Congrats to this kid. He wasn’t the only North Shore kid making plays for the Crusaders on Saturday. He’s not the first, and he won’t be the last. He’s a Crusader as well as his father, but they still are Boys from the North Shore who still bleed Red Raider Red under their Crusader uniforms.

    It was a tremendous game, too bad we lost, but Congrats to the Brotherhood and the rest of the kids who represented their own “hometowns” while playing for St Louis.

    Until next year! RRFL!!! GO BIG RED!!!

  5. DTavares November 20, 2017 8:55 am

    He is not the only player on the team,yes alot of players come from laie but also from other parts of the island.Both teams did great its called team work and I like to congratulate all the teams that played hard.To me it should’nt be well he was from here or there this is how animosity starts.Have a blessed future.

  6. bumbuchas November 20, 2017 9:12 am

    I stand corrected “88”. let the recruiting wars continue!

  7. Good Story November 20, 2017 9:36 am

    Congrats Isaiah…still think you look better in Red but like others said before, you make us proud.

    Like your Father before you, keep playing hard son. Good Luck to wherever you decide to pursue your future.

    Ofa atu to the Tufaga Ohana

  8. Too Meke 2 November 20, 2017 9:53 am

    Some of you guys really lack self-esteem. Instead of just writing “congratulations” or “great job” somehow you have to transition your writing to how it relates to Kahuku Football.

    I’ll help you out since I can pay you on your back. I’ll send out a virtual pat on the back.

    “Good job guys. I give Kahuku all the credit for this kid attending St Louis. You guys are the real reason he has the opportunity to play for St Louis.”

    Now does that make your guys feel better? What did you parents do to make you lack so much self worth?

  9. STL2THECOFFIN November 20, 2017 9:54 am

    Rr4L still saying we recruit lol ask anyone on the team if we got recruited LMAO YALLL JUST COME UP WITH EXCUSES EVERYTIME!!! Enjoy the damn L end of story you just keep covering up for all the trash talk y’all do on a stl article!!! STL fans don’t even comment on articles about kahuku… so why y’all do it to stl all the damn time?? And PSA chanting “ref you suck” that was an embarrassment to your guys whole community it made you guys look as if you guys were raised with no respect. GROW UP AND ENJOY THE L!! Can’t spell ”rr4l” without an “L” Hahahaha

  10. Uso67 November 20, 2017 11:49 am

    For everyone on this board that gripes about schools (OIA/ILH) recruiting this kid and that kid….It still takes hard work in practice and the game to become a champion. Talent helps but it is not the only factor in winning championships.
    By the way the roster of the St Louis team is from all over Oahu-not just the North Shore. The kids come to a school because they want to be part of a winning tradition and be coached by the best in Hawaii HS football.

  11. Cry4dababy November 20, 2017 12:32 pm

    tufagas dad is a crusader so he probably wanted to play where his dad went. #40 is from town his dad is from laie and his older brother was a crusader. But u guys can claim him to….lol

  12. TooMeke November 20, 2017 1:20 pm

    Who’s “crying” about recruiting??? Where?? Here we are congratulating…and at the same time ACKNOWLEDGING that some of St Louis best players from Big Red Country…for decades.

    And ain’t nothing wrong with that. StL gotta recruit to stay relevant. Big deal. It is what it is and more power to them.

    At least we not living in denial about recruiting…unlike StL alumni living in denial just cuz they never got recruited…and then sat on the bench while those who got recruited actually played. lol…water boys.

    I’d rather lose and be a RRFL, then win and be poor sport Crusader.


  13. #11 November 20, 2017 1:38 pm

    I played ball with his dad and uncle at St.Louis and just like both of them this boy can play! He’s a great example of a Crusader from the North Shore and he follows in the footsteps of many Crusaders from that side of the island. Those players were key memebers of our team but not the only reason why we won those Prep Bowls! I’m grateful for all the guys I played with because they made me a better player. Our practices were more physical than the games! It was all about competing! Isaiah will go down as another Crusader great and do big things at the next level! Maybe one day his sons will be Crusaders as well! Good Luck Isaiah!

  14. Falcon Future November 20, 2017 2:39 pm

    Maybe I am wrong on this, but private schools don’t have any “home districts” or boundaries so essentially every student at a private school is a “recruit.” I get flyers in the mail for Open House at all kinds of different private schools. Does that mean they are all recruiting my kids?

    In the end, it still up to the family to make the decision. If a family is choosing a private school in town and spending 2-3 hours of driving on the road every single day, that is a huge sacrifice. It also says a lot that they rather choose to do that then go to a school that is only 10-15 minutes away from their house.

    I also say that of all the schools that lose kids from their district to private schools, the ones affected the most are Kaiser, Kalani, Kaimuki and Kapolei.

  15. Toomeke November 20, 2017 4:48 pm

    Falcon. You may be right. But those kids ain’t going to St. Louis. They going Iolani and punahou…because they have legit private school academic curriculums. Not the case with St. Louis, and sadly more recently, Kam. Football players ain’t going to St. Louis for the academics. Admittedly better than public schools, but only slightly = expensive public school education.

  16. Too Meke 2 November 20, 2017 6:05 pm

    Toomeke November 20, 2017 4:48 pm
    Falcon. You may be right. But those kids ain’t going to St. Louis. They going Iolani and punahou…because they have legit private school academic curriculums. Not the case with St. Louis, and sadly more recently, Kam. Football players ain’t going to St. Louis for the academics. Admittedly better than public schools, but only slightly = expensive public school education.

    And your evidence is what? Did you take a survery? Or are you assuming again? So I guess all the kids who enter at grade K go there to play football?

    And if no one is there for academics then how come the roster for the football team and the number for the entire student body doesn’t match up? If they aren’t there for academics and they are there for football, then the numbers should be equal.

    Man you are so dumb it almost hurts reading your crap

  17. Knation November 20, 2017 6:42 pm

    Hey education first aka too make 2 back with hundred different screen names.

  18. Gauta Vaa November 20, 2017 7:50 pm

    first and foremost but can I congratulate both teams For one of the best state title game we have witnessed, as I’ve watched some these young men come up from Pop Warner, Jr prep and so forth and it’s unfortunate that we have to have one onthe short end. Secondly, some of you all have good points. St. Louis wouldn’t be the football program it has today if it wasn’t for the so called recruiting. It dates back to the 80’s. I’ve hade childhood friends from the “hood” that gotrecognized for their talents from pal league, Manly Williams 86’ (because that’s all we played) and I’ve had mates that go for a year or 2 and return to public school because it wasn’t a good fit. Does Daniel Ornelas ring a bell? Damn he was a beast. The list goes on and on. If some you feel education is not part of the package up there and I’m not backing up no side whatever…lol because I’m public school. So why is that both side are getting D1 offers? If these kids stayed home disctrict school? Maybe, just maybe it’ll be a different story. St. Louis/Kahuku both Hammah schools, And the kids will get their education however it is and this trend will forever go on. Mahalo for reading

  19. BlameSomeoneElse November 20, 2017 8:37 pm

    Gee, lets see. First off, St. Louis is a private school, but it is also a religious school, which means it’s curriculum will differ slightly from Punahou, Iolani and even Kamehameha. St. Louis’ curriculum includes courses of a religious nature. Public schools don’t teach religion and are paid for by taxes, St. Louis relies on tuition money and donations and support from its alumni and corporate entities. Toomeke’s hate for all things private/parochial school speaks volumes as I heard all the same things back when I went to private school. It sounds more like a jealous/envy attitude more than anything else.

  20. Whhy November 20, 2017 9:23 pm

    Both teams did well. Congrats Champs, same time same place next year… YES!!! hopefully different results :).

  21. Recruit dis November 20, 2017 10:50 pm

    Toomeke- St. Louis curriculum is way harder then kahuku. I guarantee 80% of your team wouldn’t even make grades to play. Why you think there was such a big dip in athletes when pat hamamoto took over? Kids couldn’t make grades to play. That’s why a lot of these kids are going to college and not like the old days.

  22. ??? November 20, 2017 11:54 pm

    Like I said before; Stop giving Scholarships/Financial Aid or whatever you guys want to call it and see how many stud athletes come to STL for their Tradition/ Brotherhood..
    I dare you!!!

  23. Recruit dis November 21, 2017 7:46 am

    For all you cry babies whining about recruiting go on Tuitele twitter and see what he wrote. #1 DL coming out of Hawaii and was not even asked to go to St. Louis and is paying his own tuition. So what now?

  24. Match November 21, 2017 8:38 am

    Faka, this kid did great! Congrats St. Louis and Kahuku on a game that made everyone stain their underwaer!!! No matter where or who they play they still rep the 808!!! No matter from Kahuku or St. Louis. The products we send out from a small island is what we reppin!!! Isaiah Tufaga played amazing!!! Congrats nephew!!!

  25. Ranaia Tuisosopo November 22, 2017 2:50 am

    Your brotherhood is bought and recruited haha

  26. Recruit dis November 22, 2017 9:09 am

    Yup that’s what all the losers from the oia say when they get beat by an ILH team.

  27. Ranaia Tuisosopo November 22, 2017 11:09 am

    Your team wouldn’t be shet anyways if it was a OIA team lol. ILH is fixed and really where is the results going there. Heard there’s alot of Feminism going on. Sausage fest school.

  28. GTFOH November 22, 2017 3:09 pm

    HAHAHA cry all year about recruiting then come on here and claim the very kids you been talking shet about the whole time! Classic.. how about you step up your game and make it so your kids wont even consider playing for another school. All this blaming the world for your problems and no accountability….sounds like their parents made an educated decision ALLOWING them to change schools. Quit making our public schools look bad talking out both sides of your mouth…

  29. Awrite!! November 22, 2017 4:32 pm

    Head referee Michael Goshima a St. Louis class of 1969 Grad was the head umpire for the Open division Championship game. Can HPW do an investigation as to why this is not a conflict?

    Is this another one of Cal Lees tactical advantages?

  30. @76South November 22, 2017 7:00 pm

    If I recall Tommy Heffernan who was the back of the year was on the first Prep Bowl team that won 13-14 in a row. He was the only one from that side. After that, the next time St. Louis had somebody from that side was George Ornellas and then probably Wes Tufaga. In between those years guys like Cabunoc,Toeaina,Correa,Alualu,Malepeai,Purcell,Ma’afala,George Noga,Hao,Agbayanis are jus a few names. I have alot of names I could put on here that wasn’t from Big Red Country. St. Louis was dominating the Prep Bowl without Kids from The North Shore.

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