Friday, November 30, 2001
Pop quiz: Which of the following was the most frequently asked question around town this week?
St. Louis will win | Kahuku will win Projected starting lineups
By Jason Kaneshiro
A. When will the local economy start to recover?Seems everybody has an opinion on which Hawaii high school power will win tonight's Chevron State Football Championship game. The Red Raiders and Crusaders, the only teams to play in the state finals since the tournament's inception in 1999, enter the game undefeated and brimming with future college stars.
B. What's up with all this rain?
C. Kahuku or St. Louis?
Kahuku has the momentum of a 22-game winning streak, including last year's 26-20 landmark victory over the Crusaders. Meanwhile, St. Louis is peaking at precisely the right time of the year.
Both teams have ample cause to believe they will walk out of Aloha Stadium with the state championship trophy, and the following is a look at the reasons both teams have a shot at the crown.
... St. Louis will win!
10-0-1, Interscholastic League
of Honolulu champion
The Crusaders advanced to the final game of the season each of the past 16 years. But this year's title game bears greater significance than the previous 15 Prep Bowls and state championship games. Cal Lee, the most successful coach in local football, announced last summer that this would be his final season as St. Louis' coach. And for the first time since 1986, the Crusaders enter the championship as the challenger. Here's why they could reclaim their place atop Hawaii high school football.
1. Motivation: Vengeance for last year's loss. Cal Lee's final game as St. Louis coach. What more do the Crusaders need to get hyped up for this one?
2. Quick starts: The Crusaders have outscored their opponents 127-23 in the first quarter of their games this season and take an average lead of 26-3 into halftime. St. Louis scored on five of its first six possessions last week against Kailua and has reached the end zone on its opening drive in each of the last four games.
3. Three's a magic number: The Crusaders' late season surge has been spurred by their running back triumvirate of Prince Brown, Justin Cabansag and B.J. Batts. Their combination of speed (Cabansag and Batts) and power (Brown) gives St. Louis tremendous balance.
4. Jason Rivers and Bobby George: The juniors have emerged as a lethal pass-catch combination. George throws the best deep ball in the state and few cornerbacks can keep up with Rivers' long strides.
5. Heavy hitters: Linebacker Taualai Fonoti isn't spectacular, but few ball carriers escape once he latches on to them. In the secondary, safety Timo Paepule can make receivers think twice about going over the middle.
6. Holding the edge: Tackles Jeremy Inferrera and Mesepa Reed will have the task of matching up with Kahuku ends Jonathan Mapu and Darrell Tachibana. They have proved adept at both pass protection and sealing off the end on running plays.
7. Spreading the wealth: While Rivers is the deep threat, Crusader slotbacks Tito Sallas and Ross Dickerson can create havoc for defenses. Sallas earns hazardous duty pay by making clutch catches in the middle of the field, while the speedy Dickerson can hurt you in the pass pattern or running the ball on counter plays. Receiver Kainoa Fernandez is also a big-play threat when he lines up opposite Rivers or as a kick returner.
8. Andre the Giant: Tolifili Liufau, known around the St. Louis campus as Andre, is a playmaker at defensive end. Keeping him out of the backfield is a top priority for the Red Raider offensive line. The 6-foot-3, 290-pounder has also been used on offense as a blocking tight end in the team's "elephant" package.
9. Mr. Cool: Aside from his ability to teach the game, one of Lee's most significant traits is his even demeanor. When the Crusaders went down 17-0 against Kamehameha earlier this year, Lee barely flinched. There was no sense of panic on the St. Louis sideline and the Crusaders scored the next 24 points. His air of confidence helps the players weather the rough spots in the game.
10. Timing: As he has throughout his tenure, Lee has his team playing its best ball when it matters most. Sure, the Crusaders wobbled a bit early in the season. But they have steadily improved and the machine is humming as smoothly as ever entering the biggest game of the season.
... Kahuku will win!
13-0, Oahu Interscholastic
The Red Raiders have enjoyed wearing the state crown the past 12 months and feature a roster loaded with talent and experience. They also have the confidence that comes with a victory over the state's dominant program.
But they enter tonight's contest keenly aware that they will face a hungry St. Louis team. The following is a look at why the Red Raiders could repeat as champions.
1. Pick your poison: Unlike Kahuku teams of the past, this year's Red Raiders aren't anchored to the ground. Kahuku can still ram the ball down a defense's throat with Mulivai Pula and Earvin Atuaia. But stacking the line only opens the passing lanes for quarterback Inoke Funaki and the Red Raider corps of receivers.
2. Game breakers: Kahuku's depth at the skill positions leaves little room for error for a defense. Ferron Fonoimoana is a slippery runner who can turn a short pass into a long gain. James Kammerer runs precise routes and has sure hands. He isn't a burner, but can sneak past cornerbacks if they aren't careful.
3. Mulivai Pula: The Red Raider running back's combination of speed and power makes him difficult to contain. He can bull through arm tackles, and defenders who take the wrong angle against him will find themselves in his vapor trail.
4. Confidence: Intimidation was a big part of St. Louis' run of championships. Listening to 100 players chant out C-R-U-S-A-D-E-R-S was kind of like hearing Darth Vader breathing behind you. But with Kahuku proving the Crusaders mortal last year, the Red Raiders should have no such mental roadblocks this time around.
5. Unsung heroes: Defensive back Sola Soliai and linebacker Joshua Hodge don't get much attention, but they are key elements for the Red Raider defense. Hodge thrives at chasing down ball carriers and Soliai is one of the state's heaviest hitters.
6. Pride of the North Shore: No other school enjoys the community backing the Red Raiders have. Loyal Kahuku fans have been getting lathered up for the game all week and the mauka stands should turn into the Red Sea tonight.
7. Inoke Funaki: He led the Red Raiders to the title last year and emerged this season as the state's most complete quarterback. He is equally dangerous throwing the ball and running the option and has a knack for coming up with big plays when his team needs it most.
8. Now you see it: Kahuku coach Siuaki Livai isn't shy about using trick plays at any point in the game. Fonoimoana, who is also a backup quarterback, has burned several teams with the halfback-option pass. The Red Raiders have also successfully executed the hook-and-ladder on several occasions this season.
9. Here's the beef: The Red Raider offensive line is big, athletic and experienced. All of the starters exceed or approach 300 pounds. Semisi Kauvaka leads the group at 6-foot-3, 320-pounds. Guard Suliasi Lautaha is the smallest of the group at 6 feet and 290 pounds.
10. The Haka: Forget Baltimore's Ray Lewis and his pregame histrionics. The Red Raiders' Polynesian Cultural Center-quality Samoan chant before each half never fails to get both the players and their fans fired up.
Projected starting lineups
Kahuku Red RaidersOFFENSE
15 Inoke Funaki QB 6-0 180 12 28 Mulivai Pula HB 5-11 215 12 11 Ferron Fonoimoana SB 5-8 165 12 35 Earvin Atuaia FB 5-11 250 12 84 James Kammerer WR 6-3 184 12 18 Ben Chase WR 5-10 160 12 75 Kalavi Blanchard RT 6-4 290 12 78 Suliasi Lautaha RG 6-0 290 12 62 Jeremy Perry C 6-2 300 10 60 Joseph Napeahi LG 6-2 315 11 72 Semisi Kauvaka LT 6-3 320 12 DEFENSE 99 Jonathan Mapu DE 6-3 250 12 96 Tala Esera DT 6-3 245 12 92 Tuika Tufaga DT 6-1 220 12 91 Darrell Tachibana DE 6-2 200 12 46 Joshua Hodge OLB 5-10 198 12 44 Ola Kubota ILB 5-8 200 11 52 Sione Olevao OLB 5-11 195 12 5 Trumaine Oto CB 5-10 170 11 27 George Perry CB 5-11 160 11 9 Viliami Nauahi S 6-2 195 11 7 Sola Soliai S 6-0 180 12 SPECIAL TEAMS 6 Solomon Lee K 5-9 160 12 11 Ferron Fonoimoana P 5-8 165 12 11 Ferron Fonoimoana PR 5-8 165 12 28 Mulivai Pula KR 5-11 215 12
St. Louis CrusadersOFFENSE
7 Bobby George QB 6-0 185 11 32 Prince Brown RB 5-10 230 12 1 Ross Dickerson SB 5-11 175 12 17 Tito Sallas SB 5-10 185 12 80 Kainoa Fernandez WR 5-10 170 12 84 Jason Rivers WR 6-2 185 11 71 Jeremy Inferrera LT 6-3 260 11 75 Frank Fernandez LG 6-2 275 11 74 Howard Harbottle C 6-0 290 12 64 Troy Esera RG 6-1 285 12 68 Mesepa Reed RT 6-5 237 12 DEFENSE 87 Wilson Afoa DE 6-2 235 11 91 Kama McKeague DT 5-10 240 12 42 John Siofele DT 6-0 255 12 94 Tolifili Liufau DE 6-3 290 11 56 Taualai Fonoti LB 6-1 240 12 43 Kawai Curnan LB 5-10 205 12 25 Chris Tunoa CB 5-10 180 12 28 Chad Adviento CB 5-11 190 11 24 Timo Paepule SAM 6-0 195 11 27 Jonah Lakatani ROV 5-6 145 11 13 Paula Latu FS 5-11 185 12 SPECIAL TEAMS 31 Michael Houar K 5-11 175 11 17 Tito Sallas P 5-10 185 12 80 Kainoa Fernandez PR 5-10 170 12 1 Ross Dickerson KR 5-11 175 12
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