ILH FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou's Miah Ostrowski tried to get past Saint Louis' Allen Pimenta in the second half of last night's ILH championship game at Aloha Stadium.
Buffanblu pick off Saints
Kan throws two TD passes to put Punahou in the postseason for the first time since 1977
THEY MAY NOT have been around the last time Punahou won the Interscholastic League of Honolulu football title.
But the Buffanblu still managed to appreciate the magnitude. Brett Kan fired two touchdown passes and Punahou's defense played its best game of the season in a 14-0 win over Saint Louis last night.
A crowd of 6,124 at Aloha Stadium saw Punahou (9-2, 7-2 ILH) end a 28-year drought since its last league crown. Punahou has not played for a postseason championship since the 1977 Prep Bowl, losing to Larry Ginoza's Waianae squad 27-6.
This time around, it is Punahou, ranked No. 3 in the Star-Bulletin Top 10, that could be the favorite in their first appearance in the state tournament since its inception in 1999. The Buffanblu won't get a chance to rest, however. They play Aiea, the Oahu Interscholastic Association runner-up, on Saturday at Aloha Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
Saint Louis, ranked second in the state, closed the season 8-4 (6-3 ILH).
"We turned it over too many times," Crusaders coach Delbert Tengan said. "We gave it our best shot."
Kan had the game of his life, completing 14 of his 21 attempts for 147 yards and two touchdowns in a clutch performance.
"We stepped up the intensity
level. They went a little to a quarters defense, but mostly, they stayed with their base," Kan said.
The 6-foot-2 junior sprayed the ball to seven receivers.
Saint Louis managed a season-low 111 yards in total offense.
"How about that defense," Punahou coach Kale Ane exclaimed.
"The bye week helped us," said defensive tackle Jonathan Overton, referring to Saint Louis' tiebreaker game with Kamehameha five days before yesterday's tilt. "We know how hard it would've been to play."
The shortened format of 8-minute quarters for the ILH tiebreaker games played a role. Mostly, though, it was a smart, swarming Buffanblu defense led by rover Sam Higgins. Punahou's run-and-shoot offense wasn't shy about handing the ball off, either. Kainoa Carlson finished with 15 carries for 27 yards, keeping the Saint Louis defense off-balance just enough for Kan to find openings in the secondary.
From the start, Punahou looked crisp and quick, while Saint Louis seemed a half-step slower. Defensively, the Buffanblu often read the Crusaders' option package and stifled any running threat.
Midway through the shortened quarter, a fumble by Cameron Higgins on an option keeper was scooped up by defensive tackle Bucky Aona, who returned the ball 11 yards to the Saint Louis 24-yard line.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou players dumped water on coach Kale Ane after last night's victory over Saint Louis.
Two plays later, Kan connected with slotback Zac Yamagishi on a 22-yard strike in the end zone. River Kim's PAT kick made it 7-0 with 3:36 left in the opening quarter.
Saint Louis punted the ball right back to the Buffanblu -- one of the Crusaders' four first-half punts. Kan directed Punahou on an 11-play, 82-yard march to paydirt. A 34-yard completion to Yamagishi sparked the drive, which culminated with Kan's 10-yard pass to Miah Ostrowski in the left corner of the end zone on third and goal.
Punahou led 14-0 with 4:42 remaining in the second quarter. Saint Louis did not threaten before intermission and finished with 5 yards in total offense going into the second half. Worse yet, receiver Cameron Bayne suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter and did not return.
Kan, who had six completions in a row, connected on nine of his 13 attempts in the first half for 114 yards and no turnovers.
Kim missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt early in the third quarter, but the rest of the second half was a matter of clock management. Saint Louis lost Higgins to a leg injury when Overton recorded his second sack late in the third quarter.
No. 3 Punahou 14, No. 2 Saint Louis 0
Pun--Zac Yamagishi 22 pass from Brett Kan (River Kim kick).
Pun--Miah Ostrowski 10 pass from Kan (Kim kick).
RUSHING--Saint Louis: Cody Wells 3-(-2), Cameron Higgins 8-17, Chase Alcott 1-(-7), Shane Ahlo 1-5, Jeremiah Masoli 6-55, Lene Auelua 1-0. Punahou: Kainoa Carlson 15-27, Ryan Nobriga 3-0, Colin Viloria 1-2, Kan 2-(-3).
PASSING--Saint Louis: Higgins 4-12-1-12, Masoli 3-9-0-31. Punahou: Kan 14-21-0-147.
RECEIVING--Saint Louis: Cameron Bayne 1-3, Preston Lynch 2-18, David O'Connor 2-19, Ku'ia Aiona 2-6. Punahou: Kim 4-29, Kyle Whitford 1-5, Yamagishi 2-56, Carlson 2-10, Ostrowski 3-35, Viloria 1-9, Nobriga 1-3.