Saturday, November 30, 2002

St. Louis' Derrick Hohu ran the ball last night against Waimea. The Crusaders won easily, earning a spot in the state title game.

Crusaders in final again

By Jason Kaneshiro

Just as it has for the past three years, the St. Louis football team will end its season in the state championship game.

But after falling short of the title the last two campaigns, the "just happy to be here" line simply doesn't fly for the Crusaders.

"Our kids know just getting here to the final isn't good enough," St. Louis coach Delbert Tengan said. "We've been talking about taking one game at a time all season long and we're finally down to that last game."

The Crusaders advanced to their fourth consecutive state championship game with a 51-0 rout of Waimea in a semifinal game of the Chevron State Football Championship last night at Aloha Stadium.

St. Louis has deftly dodged elimination for the better part of two months after an early season loss to Kamehameha. Since then, the Crusaders have ripped off eight wins in a row to return to the state championship game, where they've lost to Kahuku the last two years.

"After Kamehameha we knew we had eight hurdles to get over to get to this point," Tengan said. "We've successfully gotten over eight and we know the last one is the toughest one; that's evident by the past two years."

Said St. Louis quarterback Bobby George: "I know I'm pretty hungry. The last two years I couldn't get it done, so this year we're just looking forward to bringing back the championship."

St. Louis last won the state title in 1999. That run included a 56-0 semifinal win over Waimea, and last night's game wasn't much better for the Kauai Interscholastic Federation champion Menehunes.

St. Louis finished the game with 330 total yards to 74 for Waimea and took control early by scoring on its first six possessions of the game.

Waimea was hampered by four fumbles and four interceptions.

"St. Louis knows how to play in the big games," Waimea coach Jon Kobayashi said. "Their coaching staff and players get up for these games and they know what it takes to win.

"Our guys came to play and they tried their best; we just were outmatched."

St. Louis' offensive line blew open holes for running backs Justin Cabansag and B.J. Batts, who combined for 158 yards and scored two touchdowns each. Most of the St. Louis starters were on the bench early in the third quarter.

The St. Louis defense recorded six tackles for losses and keyed on Waimea running back Jordon Dizon, holding the junior to 25 yards.

"We wanted to make sure we plugged all the holes inside," Tengan said. "We knew he was a north-and-south runner and he doesn't want to bounce the ball outside too much, so we just tried to plug everything up inside."

After watching tapes of Waimea's 24-21 quarterfinal victory over Kailua last week, the Crusaders squashed any hopes of a Menehune upset early in the game and didn't let up until they had a 44-0 lead at halftime.

"We knew we had to put them away early and the way our (offensive) line played and our defense played, it worked out real well," George said.

A little more than five minutes into the game, Waimea was already down 17-0 and things snowballed from there for the Menehunes, who didn't enter St. Louis territory until there was less than two minutes left in the first half.

"It put us in a hole being behind early," Kobayashi said. "It kind of took us out of our game plan and forced us to do different things. It's difficult for us to catch up."

Waimea opened the game by losing 12 yards in three plays as St. Louis defensive end Wilson Afoa sacked Waimea quarterback Jon Palacio on third down to force the Menehunes to punt.

St. Louis' Pono Vierra fielded Dizon's punt at the 44 and followed a convoy of blockers to the end zone for the Crusaders' first score.

"I just had to get behind the wall," Vierra said. "They set up good blocking for me. I just had to get behind it and it was just daylight from there."

St. Louis got the ball back on an interception by Pase Fiaseu. Three plays later, George hit Shane Butcher on a streak pattern down the right sideline for a 19-yard score.

A Menehune fumble led to Kaeo Adams' 30-yard field goal, giving St. Louis a 17-0 lead. Cabansag capped the Crusaders' next possession with a 1-yard TD plunge.

The highlight of the first half for Waimea was Dizon's 65-yard punt that the Menehunes downed inside the St. Louis 1.

But the Crusaders marched 99 yards in 11 plays and scored on a 3-yard run by Batts to widen the gap. Cabansag carried the ball five times for 66 yards on the drive.

"Our coaches just told us to get first downs, and that's what we did," George said. "If you keep getting first downs you'll eventually move down the field."

Waimea put together its most productive drive of the game at the end of the first half, moving to the St. Louis 9. But St. Louis linebacker Chester Wilson intercepted a Palacio pass to end the threat.

Waimea's final three possessions of the half ended in a fumble and two interceptions.

The St. Louis defense registered a score early in the second half when Tani Nahalea scooped up a Dizon fumble and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown.

The entire second half was played with a running clock due to the 35-point mercy rule, giving the Crusaders a head start on their preparations for next week's championship game.

"We were able to save a lot of bodies," Tengan said. "We've been banged up the last three weeks with Kamehameha twice and a physical Farrington team, so it was good to get our reserves in and save our front line players."

A bright spot for Waimea was the play of defensive back Tyson Fernandez, who broke up five passes and intercepted one.

"We're proud of our guys. They progressed throughout the season and came together as a team," Kobayashi said. "It's not based on one game."

Waimea (8-2) 0 0 0 0-- 0

St. Louis (10-2) 23 21 7 0-- 51

StL -- Pono Vierra 44 punt return (Kaeo Adams kick)
StL -- Shane Butcher 19 pass from Bobby George (Adams kick)
StL -- FG Adams 30
StL -- Justin Cabansag 1 run (kick failed)
StL -- B.J. Batts 3 run (Adams kick)
StL -- Batts 1 run (Adams kick)
StL -- Cabansag 2 run (Adams kick)
StL -- Tani Nahalea 16 fumble recovery (Adams kick)

RUSHING -- Waimea: Jordon Dizon 21-25, Rhyan Parbo 2-9, Gary Mata 2-0, Jon Palacio 3-(-15). St. Louis: Cabansag 12-91, Batts 7-67, Justin Kruse 5-17, George 3-16, Wyatt Williams 6-11, Derrick Hohu 1-10, Kealii Perbera 2-7, Jason Rivers 1-2.

PASSING -- Waimea: Palacio 4-14-4-55, Austin Alquiza 0-1-0-0. St. Louis: George 7-14-0-109, Stanley Nihipali 0-2-1-0.

RECEIVING -- Waimea: Dane Koga 2-33, Tyson Fernandez 1-24, Dizon 1-(-2). St. Louis: Butcher 4-67, Rivers 2-27, Shawn Kauleinamoku 1-15.

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