Win No. 20 in a row not easy for No. 1 Saint Louis

Saint Louis slotback Koali Nishigaya caught the only touchdown pass thrown by the Crusaders and finished with 10 receptions for 80 yards. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Saint Louis managed to survive without its starting quarterback on Friday, although the Crusaders’ 20th consecutive win wasn’t secure until the clock hit :00.

With quarterback Jayden de Laura sidelined, the Saint Louis defense helped stake the top-ranked Crusaders to a 23-0 lead on Kapolei in an OIA-ILH Open Division matchup on the West side. But the defending state champions ended up having to sweat out the final seconds before a walk-off sack by Jordan Botelho and Stanley McKenzie finished off a 30-22 victory.

“The bottom line is we got by,” Saint Louis coach Cal Lee said. “(Kapolei’s) a good football team. They have a good passing game, they scored on us a couple times and I have to give them credit. They never gave up, they kept battling all the way to the end until the clock hit zero.”


De Laura had started Saint Louis’ first four games and warmed up prior to Friday’s game despite a sore shoulder. He threw for 293 yards and a touchdown with four interceptions and ran for two scores in last week’s 35-28 win over Punahou. Lee said de Laura could have played on Friday, but sophomore Connor Apo, who had completed three of six passes for 55 yards in three appearances this season, was given his first start.

“It’s a physical game and kids are going to get banged up, they’re going to get hurt,” Lee said. “But (Apo) had a good chance to show his stuff and it was good experience for him.”

2018 September 21 SPT- Honolulu Star-Advertiser photo by Jamm Aquino/jaquino@staradvertiser.com
Saint Louis quarterback Jayden de Laura (7), right, stood on the sideline during the first half of Fridays game against Kapolei. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Apo completed 18 of 27 attempts for 135 yards, most coming on short to intermediate routes. Slot receiver Koali Nishigaya made 10 catches for 80 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown on Saint Louis’ opening possession, with a long of 29.

With Saint Louis up 30-14 in the fourth quarter, freshman Alexander Bianco and senior Chandan Sappai rotated on the Crusaders’ final two possessions.

“It comes with experience,” Lee said. “(Apo) just went in there to start the game, I’m sure he’s a little nervous. He just needs more practice and more playing time and he’ll get better.”

Saint Louis’ defense took some pressure off of Apo with three takeaways in Kapolei’s first four possessions to contribute to a 17-0 halftime lead. Kamo’i Latu intercepted Noa Bailey’s first pass of the game, Nick Herbig came up with a strip sack at the Kapolei 15 on the first play of the second quarter and Lawai’alani Brown came up with a pick.

Special teams contributed when Micah Tupua lined up in punt formation on fourth-and-11 and took off for a 12-yard gain. Three plays later, Dayton Sam was in the end zone with a 7-yard touchdown run.


Despite a turnover to begin the third quarter, the Crusaders appeared well in control when Junior Wily returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown to increase the gap to 23-0.

But Kapolei sophomore quarterback Christian Rapis sparked the Hurricanes off the bench, connecting with receiver De’zhaun Stribling on three completions totaling 128 yards (57, 43, 28) to set up two touchdown runs by Ezekiel Waiolama.

Herbig appeared to squelch Kapolei’s upset hopes with a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown, but Rapis 37-yard touchdown pass to Sheldon Mcleod and 2-point conversion throw to Stribling brought the Hurricanes within a possession with 16 seconds left.

Connor Apo got the start at quarterback for Saint Louis against Kapolei in place of Jayden de Laura. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Kapolei got one more shot after recovering a well-executed onside kick. Micah Fonoti tapped the ball up the middle and Tyger Fa’avi emerged from the scramble with the ball at the Saint Louis 45.

But after an incomplete pass, Botelho and McKenzie wrapped up Rapis to end the game.

“We started the game strong and we had to finish it strong,” said Botelho, who had a sack for a loss of 16 yards in the second quarter to derail the Hurricanes after they’d driven to the Saint Louis 23.

Rapis threw for 229 yards off the bench, but Saint Louis ended the night with four interceptions and the touchdowns by Wily and Herbig were too much to overcome.


“The defense did a great job, they played well,” Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said. “We’re consistent quarterback play away from being really good.

“(Bailey and Rapis) both played well in spots, both played poorly in spots. They’re young and inexperienced and hopefully we get that cleaned up.”

Kapolei quarterback Noa Bailey threw a pass down the field in the first half against Saint Louis. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

COMMENTS

  1. Notes September 22, 2018 9:07 am

    This was not a fun game to watch, St. Louis 2nd and 3rd stringers in practice mode and still come out with the win. I believe Punahou did the same thing against Kapolei.


  2. Choloropicrin September 22, 2018 9:12 am

    Game don’t count for the ILH, so I can see why they sat the QB. Why risk further injury if he had an injury already.


  3. Notes September 22, 2018 9:27 am

    What do you mean this game does not count? Why play then. I thought the whole purpose of the Open division was for “iron to sharpen iron”, so far all we seen is blowouts and teams resting players.


  4. Informed Reader September 22, 2018 11:12 am

    @Choloropicrin

    You seem to be misinformed. The interleague games don’t count in the OIA standings but count for ILH standings. The ILH doesn’t have enough league games for OIA-ILH games to not count. You can look it up.

    Get your facts straight before you spread false information and start false narratives.


  5. ??? September 22, 2018 11:45 am

    Cal Lee has gotta love the Luxury of having 90 kids @ his disposal! He gets to sit his starters and let 2nd, 3rd & 4th stringers play while most OIA teams struggle to suit up 30 players.
    Good game Kapolei….


  6. Nutwat September 22, 2018 12:25 pm

    STL parents stop paying tuition for you son to sit on the bench. Let them play somewhere else and save the $65K plus for high school money for college. Win-Win.


  7. Juat Saying... September 22, 2018 1:18 pm

    A win is a win nuff said!


  8. SUSPENSE September 22, 2018 2:05 pm

    So Jimmy H, what is the call. Hernandez came within 8 points, and STL nowhere near 63.


  9. Wake up September 22, 2018 2:18 pm

    That was the 2nd string QB who played for STL


  10. Coach C. September 22, 2018 3:50 pm

    TooMeke ILH haters out there like ??? whose aka. “go figure.” Crusaders earned the luxury of having 90 players every year by developing and maintaining a successful program that groomed the most Div ! scholarship recipients over the last 20 + years. Fools like ??? never ask the question “why do most OIA teams struggle to suit up 30 players”? You clowns don’t want to look the answer in the mirror.


  11. Kapeliela Malosi September 22, 2018 5:15 pm

    Both teams did awesome. Great job to Kapolei defense, never giving up and a soild D. Saint Louis QB Conner, you did spectacular, hard work and practice pays off bro. And STL defense for your creative coverage. Every man, has a soul that lives in a body! Glad to see everyone with good spirits on the field and in the stands…


  12. ??? September 22, 2018 8:01 pm

    @coach c
    What is the answer for OIA struggles?
    OIA can only play with district kids?
    Some good district athletes no make grades?
    Some district kids transfer to ILH?
    You tell me genius!
    Of course you can maintain when you can recruit kids from the whole state? how can Waialua & Kalani keep up when they cannot recruit?
    When Cal Lee was at Kalani they struggled to get 30 players; so Why couldn’t he develop & maintain that program? Cause cannot recruit. (Plain & simple) Now you look in the mirror and you’ll see a fake Coach who has no common sense!!!


  13. Duke September 22, 2018 8:26 pm

    One point for ???
    Zero for Coach C 😂


  14. to good times September 23, 2018 2:55 am

    12 ???
    Is it true that Kahuku has one of the largest school districts on the island? Thought I heard that somewhere.


  15. Wake up September 23, 2018 3:07 am

    Pfftt. Kahuku has been recruiting for years. From Tonga, New Zealand, Samoan and the mainland. They just disguise it as kids returning to their “Roots”. Give me a break. I’m sure everyone in Hawaii can say they have an uncle, aunty, cousin who lives on the North shore. Rooted not recruited my ass. More like Flown not Grown


  16. Opinion September 23, 2018 6:12 am

    Notes

    St. Louis played their 2nd and 3rd stringers? Nishigaya caught 10 passes for 80 yards and a td. Tuitele, Botelho, Wily,Brown all playing in the 4th quarter. Wow, those are some really good 2nd and 3rd stringers


  17. Sea Dog September 23, 2018 6:32 am

    Did De Laura, Wilson or Kamakawiwoole play?


  18. ??? September 23, 2018 10:30 am

    @to good times
    True!
    They don’t have issues fielding 50-60 players!
    I’m talking about Waialua, Kaimuki, Aiea, Kalani, Kalaheo, Castle, Nanakuli, Kaiser etc…
    Kahuku, Mililani, Farrington, Football powerhouses will never have #s issues.


  19. Coach C. September 23, 2018 8:49 pm

    Cal Lee was at Kalani for 2 years. You can’t change the culture that quickly lolo ???. If you have any recollection of Cal’s first head coaching stint at St. Louis, he went 1-9 during the season of 1982 class of 1983 were the sacrificial lambs. It takes time and a huge commitment by the administration and the OIA schools like Kahuku, Mililani, and now Campbell and Kapolei have demonstrated this. The short answer is the DOE determines who gets the funds and which principals support athletics. Look at Farrington, they have upgraded their facilities and Al Carganila (Principal) supports athletics and watch their baseball program have success in the next years. Its not about you ??? despite your narcissistic comments or your petty beef between the OIA and the ILH, lolo, its about all of the schools working together to level the playing fields, competition, finances, etc. Only a fool like you can’t look beyond the 4 corners of the field.


  20. Suisan September 23, 2018 9:08 pm

    Not all ILH schools recruit in football (Iolani, Damien and Pac Five) and a lot of their success is really a product of coaching and sometimes luck in getting a few good players in any given year. Mostly hard work and team work and not recruiting like the ILH’s top 3. Coach C. what’s your proof that the DOE determines which OIA schools succeed in football?


  21. Sea Dog September 24, 2018 7:11 am

    Coach C. explain why we shouldn’t have 3 polls as others have suggested. There are 3 different divisions right?


  22. Coach C. September 24, 2018 7:25 am

    Duke, Suisan, ??? and Sea Dog: Get a Clue. The SA poll is the newspapers’ impressions of the top 10 teams based on their personal observations and those people attend the games unlike you 4 clowns who merely base their comments on antiquated beliefs based on yesteryears’ teams. Yes the ILH’s top teams recruit (Kamehameha, Punahou in virtually every sport and St. Louis (in football), Iolani in micro-biology, robotics and asian-american studies) but to say their success is based solely on “recruiting” is absurd and if that’s true, then why are there so many different champions each year??? Riddle me that. Like “Wake Up” said, Kahuku recruits are from all over…look at their basketball teams in the last 2 years. Ah where the heck did Tolu Smith 6’10” center play youth league B-Ball…certainly not in Kahuku’s PAL league and the year before when Jessiah Villa was recruited right out of the fricken Iolani Classic (from his team in Alexandria Virginia). C’Mon Man!


  23. Jimmy H September 24, 2018 8:28 am

    @SUSPENSE…Sitting De Laura shouldn’t have been an excuse not to blow this team out. Yes, they did play a lot of reserves throughout the game and it was evident every time Kapolei went deep. I don’t know if it was for fake TV self promotion, but Cal Lee and Coach Hernandez seem to have been on the same page on how this game would go. Despite Kapolei’s fight, Cal never gave way to his idea of getting reserves their playing time while Coach Hernandez never got fired up about a possible win. Are you trying to convince me that Kapolei’s D is better than Kahuku’s and Punahou’s???? GTFOH!!!! Cal could have dropped 70 on these guys, but he may actually be thinking longevity and health for his players. The ILH is starting to feel the struggle of a REAL season. It’s not in STL dna to play three QBs in one game.

    Overall, it was still entertaining and Coach Hernandez did an amazing job taking advantage of every opportunity he had.


  24. slfan September 25, 2018 8:13 am

    23. well said


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