Tuitele sparks Crusaders’ comeback win over Punahou

Saint Louis defensive back Brian Cox, right, won't be playing in the Open Division state championship game against Mililani on Saturday unless Saint Louis appeals his suspension for fighting in Friday's game against Kahuku. Photo by Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

On paper, No. 1 Saint Louis secured a hard-earned 35-28 win over No. 3 Punahou on Saturday night at Aloha Stadium.

In reality, the game turned on the stealth presence and performance of its defense. The injured leader of the ‘D’ didn’t get consistent snaps until halfway through the second quarter. Faatui Tuitele makes that much of a difference, and the Crusaders improved to 4-0 overall, 3-0 in ILH Open play. Punahou dropped to 3-2 in league play (3-2 overall) despite giving the nation’s No. 12 team its toughest battle of the season.

“It was kind of difficult at first, but I was happy for my brothers who were in before me. I love seeing them play and do their thing. I know sometimes they don’t get to play as much. A lot of them got sacks, too,” Tuitele said.

His effect is widespread, and it changed the entire scope of Punahou’s offensive attack.

“Whenever you lose one of our better players, whoever it is, it has a factor in the game. Thank goodness, he was good enough (health wise),” Crusaders coach Cal Lee said. “We wanted to rest him, but we needed him to play. When he’s in there, it’s a different ball game. We had a week rest and we were hoping he’d recover. There’s no broken bone. It’s stiffness.”

Sitting out most of the first 15 minutes with an undiagnosed injury, Tuitele entered the game with his Crusaders trailing upset-minded Punahou 21-14.

“At first they were planning to put me in only on passing situations, but as the game went on, they had me in more,” Tuitele said. “I just got to take care of it, rest it and ice it. I kind of injured it at the Kahuku game and I kept playing, and it got worse. I took care of it, got an MRI.”

Tuitele, a 6-foot-4, 299-pound defensive tackle — a 3-technique in Saint Louis’ formidable 3-4 defense — immediately impacted the game. Punahou’s offense was on fire with Hugh Brady sending darts to his array of talented pass catchers. The unit scored TDs on two of its first four possessions.

Enter Tuitele, and for the first time, Punahou went three-and-out. Next series, the Buffanblu focused on Tuitele in the trenches, and that opens up a lane for the right-side DT, Gino Quinones. The USC-bound Quinones sacks Brady, and Punahou has another three-and-out.

Next Punahou possession, Brady threw a pass that is picked off by Brian Cox. Still, Saint Louis’ offense hadn’t cut into the lead, but three plays into the next Punahou series, Brady was picked off by Cox again, and this time, the two-time defending state champions score before the half to tie the game at 21.

Punahou quarterback Hugh Brady battled No. 1 Saint Louis to the very end, throwing for 309 yards and three touchdowns. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

It was more of the same in the second half. Linebacker Jordan Botelho sacked Brady. Three plays later, it was Tuitele’s turn. Then Botelho sacked backup Kobe Muasau.

“He’s just a baller. Just seeing him, him coming on the field, you feel so much energy,” Botelho said. “Second half, we came out harder and everyone did his job.”

It was savage. There wasn’t much Punahou could do. In the next series, Brady was hit as he threw and Kamo‘i Latu returned the ball 43 yards to paydirt, giving Saint Louis a 35-21 lead.

Here’s what the Punahou drive chart looked like.

10 plays, 90 yards, TD
1 play, 0 yards, INT
8 plays, 22 yards, PUNT
3 plays, 80 yards, TD
Enter Tuitele, 9:01, second quarter (full time)
4 plays, minus-2 yards, PUNT
5 plays, 7 yards, PUNT
2 plays, minus-5 yards, INT
3 plays, minus-5 yards, INT
3 plays, 24 yards, FGA
7 plays, 18 yards, PUNT
3 plays, minus-8 yards, INT
13 plays, 76 yards, TD (Tuitele sat the entire drive)
4 plays, 7 yards, LOD
(Some of the minus yardage resulted from penalties.)

Tuitele finished with three sacks and Quinones had two. Kalepo Fiaseu and Botelho had the other two sacks. Six of the seven came in the second half.

“It was a learning experience on both sides of the ball,” said Tuitele, who has 39 scholarship offers. “We started slow, but the second half came and that’s kind of where we live. We’ve got to come out strong on ‘D’, start off strong and get that momentum going.”


  1. Toomeke September 16, 2018 4:04 am

    BS Paul…and you know it. And a very short-sided and St LuLu-biased article (Nothing new for other HPW writers, but I expect better from you).

    This loss falls on Punahou OCs (yeah there’s more than one callling plays, which is the dumbest thing I’ve heard of).

    How about Puns D? They were playing lights out and exposed this St LuLu offense for what it is = AVERAGE at best.

    If Puns OCs played it conservative at the end of first half, that St LuLu TD to tie it up never happens. Run and short passes is all they needed to do to control the ball and make St LuLu’s D stay on the field and work. But no, they called plays that enabled St LuLu D to do what they do best and pressure the QB.

    Poor play-calling by Puns OCs is how St LuLu won this game, because St LuLu’s O couldnt do jack. Cal Lee should thank Puns OCs for making his job easier last night. Any other version of this game review is pure BS.

    Hope Puns learns from this for playoffs, cuz they gave away this game and was the better team last night.

    “Best team in the nation?” Garbage. Not even the best team in Hawaii right now. And they know it. They were fortunate last night. And they will be better for the experience.

    Best game of the season though. I will say that.

  2. Jimmy H September 16, 2018 5:17 am

    …the article is on point. I noticed immediately when Tuitele was in or out of the game. He’s a legit force similar to Aaron Darnold. Brady only had half a pocket to work with, because Tuitele shrunk it so quickly. With Tuitele out, Brady sat in the pocket and picked them apart.

    The offense is what it was, high risk, high reward. You can’t call it average, because it still hung four TDs despite De Laura’s need to throw directly into the hands of the Pun D. Punahou does have a few studs in there that can fly. Props to Punahou for showing up unlike STL previous opponents.

  3. Sea Dog September 16, 2018 7:19 am

    TooMeke…if this then that bs. Punahou is familiar with St. Louis and that’s why the game was close as is most of the ILH games in general. Unlike the lame OIA where Kahuku and Mililani just feast every year. C’mon clown tell us what team in Hawaii is better than St. Louis. I would agree that Punahou is the 2nd best team though.

  4. Real Talk on HawaiiPrepWorld September 16, 2018 7:37 am

    Great game from both squads. Punahou gave St. Louis something they haven’t seen or felt all season, a challenge. St. Louis is still top dog in the state no doubt, but hats off to Punahou in figuring out how to move the ball against that stout defense. You’re not gonna run the ball against St. Louis because of that front seven. With a little bit of time & protection, that Buff ‘n Blue passing game was on it. And also that defense doesn’t get enough credit. Punahou’s #7 just might be the best player on that defense. Even better than Tufono.

  5. ILH September 16, 2018 8:39 am

    Great times bounce back and that’s exactly what the Crusaders did, Punahou is a good team and should be ranked #2, because they gave the Crusaders there toughest test so far, even though Punahou lost to Kahuku, If Punahou played Kahuku at the Stadium I’m pretty sure Kahuku would have lost, Kahuku’s field is in a poor condition, there is more speed playing on turf then on grass, just my opinion, good job Crusaders, also the head Ref, gave a free touchdown to Punahou after the blocked punt in the end zone, the ball was not controlled in the end zone, should have been only 2 points for a safety.

  6. ILH September 16, 2018 8:41 am

    Great teams bounce back and that’s exactly what the Crusaders did, Punahou is a good team and should be ranked #2, because they gave the Crusaders there toughest test so far, even though Punahou lost to Kahuku, If Punahou played Kahuku at the Stadium I’m pretty sure Kahuku would have lost, Kahuku’s field is in a poor condition, there is more speed playing on turf then on grass, just my opinion, good job Crusaders, also the head Ref, gave a free touchdown to Punahou after the blocked punt in the end zone, the ball was not controlled in the end zone, should have been only 2 points for a safety.

  7. Toomeke September 16, 2018 9:06 am

    Majority of their points came off of turnovers, directly and indirectly. Without those turnovers, St LuLu loses. Punahou gifted them this game.

    Tuitele made a difference, yes. Puns OCs didn’t adjust their game plan for being ahead and Tuitele. If they had, St LuLu would have an ‘L’. End of story.

    Any other interpretation is BS. St L is good, but obviously ain’t all that. Their deficiencies (especially on offense) were exposed. Which is good for them because they will learn and grow.

    But they are beatable. Everybody take notes on how Puns D played…and more notes on what Puns OCs did wrong. Playoffs will be competitive for all teams involved. StL ain’t a ‘slam dunk’.

  8. Coach C September 16, 2018 9:38 am

    Was waiting for someone to demean Kahuku in a well fought Punahou/St.Louis game. Thanks ILH. Next year Kahuku got St.Louis and Kamehameha at home and Punahou at Aloha. Who would think that a Kahuku team with an unknown new coach and a Qb transfered, who starts for the #4 team in the nation, would even be relevant? Lol.

  9. Trustno1 September 16, 2018 10:54 am

    This game was just like the kahuku-Punahou game! The OC for Punahou lost the game against Kahuku. Falatea was killing them and then all of a sudden you want to run the ball! Go figure! Kahuku and St.Louis was lucky Teetai wasn’t the OC! Good games this week! Heawiko! 808 vs Everybody

  10. Real Talk on HawaiiPrepWorld September 16, 2018 11:01 am

    so we’re just gonna ignore Punahou’s defense that was up to the task in going blow for blow against that high-powered St Louis offense??? or Punahou’s offense that moved the ball fairly well against that stout St Louis defense??? this write up is too one-sided. it was a hard fought game on BOTH sides of the ball. Marist Liufau is the best player on that Buff ‘n Blue defense. I’d take him over Tufono. With Kahuku’s Ah You out for the season, Liufau in my opinion is the second best defensive player in the state behind Tuitele.

  11. Robocop September 16, 2018 11:32 am

    Punahou played their best game and lost. Crusaders played their worst game and won. They take the win and move on. No matter how bad people here want to see the crusaders lose, they still go out of there with a win. “Lucky Punahou didn’t have this or that” or “lucky Punahou did this or that” well coulda shoulda woulda but didn’t when it mattered the most. Try rematching Cal and Ron in the same season and see what happens. They are always better the next time around. Punahou knows this after playing Saint Louis many times in one season. That was their chance and they blew it.

  12. N.S.B. September 16, 2018 12:51 pm

    @ Dafun – awwwww did we hurt your feelings little guy? lol

  13. Nala September 16, 2018 1:07 pm


  14. ugonlearn September 16, 2018 1:08 pm

    @toomeke that’s 2 time defending state champion “st. lulu”, thanks.
    Punahou lost by less than they should have because 1: tuitele didn’t play the whole game 2: the refs gifted them a TD instead of safety and 3: the 2 time defending state champs had more turnovers than they will the rest of the year.
    but you keep drinking your kool-aid

  15. A Win's a Win... September 16, 2018 2:01 pm

    @Toomeke you must be licking your wounds still. A Wins a Win and the Crusaders are deserving of their #1 state ranking and #10 national ranking as well and I know this pains you. Just focus on your Red Raiders as they are VERY average at best and can’t even figure out who their QB is. You might want to step up and be their coach next year as they will be looking to for a new coach again when STL 3 peats again.

  16. Realist808 September 16, 2018 3:07 pm

    This clearly has to be a wake up call for STL. These type of games make or break teams and they overcame adversity as a team. It’s a shame these two teams can’t be in the state tournament cause they both would be ranked in the top 4 in the Open Division along with Kahuku and Mililani. QB showed lots of immaturity last night but great athleticism. He will either rise to the occasion or succumb to pressure. On the other hand, Punahou has a Top 3 Defense in the state. Possibly the fastest overall defense. The ILH championship will be interesting and I think Punahou has the upper hand regardless of defeat at the moment.

  17. Real Talk on HawaiiPrepWorld September 16, 2018 3:27 pm

    Dafun – making fun of yourself so it doesn’t hurt when others do. i see what you did there.

  18. Pick Six September 16, 2018 4:15 pm

    TooMeke, Awrite, Anywaaaays are all the same clown with no insight just adversarial drivel. But yes, the St. Louis QB was erratic like the Punahou QB both had 4 INTs. In a closer game, DeLaura could be more of a detriment than a benefit. StL running back #10 pretty slow too. Punahou has great starters like many teams but STL depth is what separates them from the pack.

  19. Howdahell September 16, 2018 6:45 pm

    St Louis will probably drop nationally with this win against Puns. They also look the same every year and with talent from all over the state, they should be winning every game.

  20. Dafun September 16, 2018 7:20 pm

    BTW… No parade for you guys this year…

  21. 88 September 16, 2018 9:04 pm

    Too Meke is the best football coach ever!!! Well in her mind at least!

  22. Howyougonnaact September 16, 2018 9:46 pm

    A win is a win! Haters will be haters! Public housing represented big time! Lick your wounds heal up and come back stronger! Lord knows they will regardless of all the negativity! M,W.H. represented big time. As well as all the others on the team! Something anywaaaays will never understand!

  23. Hammer September 16, 2018 10:12 pm

    Last week punahou played mililani at mililani there offense had a very bad night mililani got smokes last night st louis offense had a bad night but they found a way to that’s the difference real good teams find a way to win st louis will get better then they will be no question who the best team in the state but for me what matters to me that all local guys get a chance to play at the next level and represent hawaii good luck for all athletes

  24. Billy Hull September 16, 2018 10:19 pm

    Two IP addresses have been banned from posting. Let’s clean it up a little on here.


  25. "UNITY=STRENGTH" September 16, 2018 10:33 pm

    Great game from St. Louis and Punahou to me one of the best I have seen. I was in it the whole game its the type of performance we need to take on these schools from the mainland. The open division teams will only get better playing each other week in week out regardless if your the first or the last in place. This open division is best I believe for the schools and coaches who has the drive to excel and who thinks they have a shot playing and winning against the states top programs more prestigious so for the OIA teams since there public and if there in the top ten in the state at the end of the year hang your hat job well done!!! We always need a top program or programs to start putting Hawaii on the map for a change. I think this is a first for the Saints being ranked this high in the nation top 10 highest in schools history I believe last was top 25 main thing your in there for 808. But I digress if you know your team might not be ready in the coming years you should step down a division there’s no shame. You will know where your team needs work if your doing nothing about it then it will show. This is only the first year adaption takes time I guess. I hope there will be some mainland teams to come down for next year a double header would be awesome. Would cost much less catering making luau and showing hospitality to these teams who wants to come down or back then making travel plans. Zippys chilli fundraising sells good among other things. Also I forgot to mention some Ass***e posting live streams games on youtube for a subscription only to find out your paying notting but watching these live football games so if you see that for a hawaii high school game dont bite. You will be paying to read some chessy and/or children books lol. Some body out there making money I wonder who else got suckered in this safer bet would be the live streams from Iolani or the other schools which you can watch for free which I appreciate hehe.:)

  26. Dafun September 16, 2018 11:16 pm

    Alright Billy you’re right. No more hating

  27. Pohaku4eva September 17, 2018 5:36 am

    #10 Falatea a non-factor because #2 Cox shut him down. Cox followed Falatea around the whole game. Only time Falatea broke free is when they motioned him away and Cox didn’t follow. He scored a long TD on that play. Same result against Duke Hefernan the week before. Cox shut Hefernan down. Hefernan scored a late rubbish TD on #31.

  28. 88 September 17, 2018 6:56 am

    @Billy, no one is more offensive than “ANYWAAAYS.” How come that person hasn’t been banned? There seems to be some inconsistency as to who gets banned from this site.

    I almost feel you guys like people like “ANYWAAAYS” who offends others and writes ridiculous stuff. Why else would that poster continue to write and others get banned?

  29. Football September 17, 2018 7:15 am

    Now whats going to happen when it comes to playoffs? Punahou obviously wont be able to go when they are top 3 in the state. They beat Mililani, and will probably smash campbell. The state tourny makes no sense of the best arent in there. Somebody needs to fix this and stop trying to give the OIA every oppurtunity to win it all. Just saying. State Tourny is built for the OIA, they need to get it right. Kamehameha could i also be in the state tourny , cambell and mililani edged them barely. Its a shame.

  30. Manu September 17, 2018 10:45 am

    Anyone who claims that anything posted contrary to his post is BS (Toomeke) makes him automatically irrelevant.

  31. hwnstyll September 17, 2018 1:31 pm

    Calling out kids is no class. If you want to talk up your kid then talk up your kid, but why do it by trashing some other kid?
    Block punt TD was a TD check tape and photos.
    Difference in the game was the BS no call at the end of the game, Punahou gets the short end of calls, yet still no complaining from Puns.
    Punahou had kids not playing too, just like every other team, they just dont use it as an excuse on why another team and kids played well.
    Millilani game QB had a bunch of INT and STL QB has a bunch of INT, instead of giving credit to D and coaches some try to say off game.
    ILH playoffs will be interesting, I take the team that agreed to play every game this year away for the sake of the open division happening, not the one that refused.

  32. 88 September 17, 2018 8:38 pm

    Another Punahou Homer.

  33. phILHarmonic September 17, 2018 8:58 pm


    Some great points tbh.

  34. Hammer September 18, 2018 6:10 pm

    St Louis all they have to do the next time they play punahou is the quarterback has to make the right decisions simple don’t try to throw the ball on the run just run the take what they give that’s simple limited the turnovers I have no doubt that’s when they play the next time st Louis will make those adjustments and the game will be a lot easier

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