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Sunday, December 8, 2002


[ HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ]



Crusaders did all
the little things to capture
state championship



By Jason Kaneshiro
jkaneshiro@starbulletin.com

Justin Cabansag played a big role in St. Louis' triumph over Castle in the state football championship Friday night, rushing for 106 yards and a touchdown.

But it was a play the senior running back made without the ball that set the tone for the Crusaders' 34-15 win over the Knights in the final of the Chevron State Football Championship at Aloha Stadium.

With St. Louis leading 7-0 in the first quarter, St. Louis quarterback Bobby George dropped back to throw and Castle linebacker Cory Daniel roared in on a blitz. With a clear shot at the vulnerable quarterback, Daniel appeared to have George sized up for a big hit.

That's when Cabansag stepped in.

"When I saw (Daniel) coming I was surprised," Cabansag said. "I had to think quick and I just jumped in and picked him up."

The Crusaders might have been warming up another QB had Cabansag not stepped in front of Daniel and absorbed the brunt of one of the night's biggest collisions.

The block allowed George to fire a strike to a wide open Shane Butcher for a 59-yard connection to the Castle 1. Two plays later, B.J. Batts scored to send St. Louis on its way to its second state championship.

"The coaches were coming up to me and saying good job, and even though I didn't punch it in they said that block helped set up the touchdown," Cabansag said.

The block was just one of the little things that added up to a big win for St. Louis.

"It was huge," St. Louis coach Delbert Tengan said. "That's one of Castle's key blitzes, sending Daniel in the A-gap. But it's no surprise Justin made that block. He's been doing that all year long."

The running of Cabansag and Batts powered a St. Louis offense that generated 333 yards. Batts rushed for two touchdowns and provided the decisive blow with a 99-yard kickoff return for a score late in the first half.

After losing to Kahuku in the previous two state finals, the St. Louis seniors reveled in reclaiming the title for the school.

"It was amazing, it was something we all worked hard for," Cabansag said. "Losing the last two years makes you feel bad and all we wanted to do was bring it back as St. Louis Crusaders."

Said Tengan: "The beauty of the whole season is to see where we're in game one and ... to see how far we have come and gotten better with each game. That's what coaches get into coaching for."

St. Louis' victory overshadowed several fine individual performances for Castle. Quarterback Jacob Ramos finished with just 22 rushing yards, but repeatedly scrambled away from pressure to keep drives alive for the Knights.

On defense, linebacker Blaze Soares recorded a game-high 12 tackles. Elde Agcaoili made three tackles for losses, including a sack of George, and recovered a fumble. Ethan Gonsalves connected on all three of his field-goal attempts to keep Castle in striking distance most of the night.

"We knew Castle was going to bring it," Tengan said. "They showed everyone in the state they had every right to be in the championship game."

But in a game of big plays, Cabansag's block earned him the respect of his teammates and coaches and the gratitude of his quarterback.

"(George) came up to me and shook my hand and said thanks," Cabansag said. "I'm always looking out for Bobby. That's my job in the backfield."



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