ILH FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Buffanblu too busy to savor new ILH crown
Punahou faces Aiea five days after its breakthrough win
ONCE IN A GENERATION: Punahou's 14-0 win over Saint Louis for the ILH football championship on Monday won't be forgotten for some time.
After all, Buffanblu faithful had to wait 28 years for their team to return to the postseason. That 1977 season, Punahou lost to Waianae 27-6 in the Prep Bowl.
On Monday, before more than 6,000 at Aloha Stadium, Brett Kan had the best game of his young career. The 6-foot-2 junior completed 14 of 21 passes for 147 yards, two scores and no interceptions.
Punahou's run-and-shoot offense was gloriously efficient against the Crusaders, but it was a commitment to the ground attack that kept the Saint Louis defense honest.
"Our offensive line came up huge. We came to establish the running game," said running back Kainoa Carlson, who espoused the motto of the line and running backs: "Pound that rock."
"It's history that we're making," added Carlson, who ran 15 times for 27 hard-earned yards.
Perhaps the most satisfied of the Buffanblu was Zac Yamagishi. The slotback fumbled during a last-minute drive against Kamehameha in a crucial regular-season game. That loss gave Kamehameha the inside track to the ILH title, but the Warriors fell in the final week of regular-season play to Saint Louis.
That set up a remarkable tiebreaker playoff among the three teams and a chance for Yamagishi to make new memories. He came through with a touchdown catch that gave Punahou a 7-0 lead.
"They were watching Miah (Ostrowski) and River (Kim). Coach called the play," Yamagishi said, referring to wide receivers coach Jeff Cabral.
Most of all, Yamagishi liked winning an ILH crown for his head coach, Kale Ane.
"He's an emotional guy. He's had tough years, disappointing years, but he had
complete trust in us," Yamagishi said.
Ostrowski, one of the top receivers in the state, was kept under wraps by the Crusaders until the second half, when he broke loose against single coverage for Punahou's second touchdown. Kan delivered another perfect pass as Punahou got its insurance points.
"I told Brett, 'If he's bump-and-running me, give me the fade,' " the junior said. "It feels great to accomplish something that we haven't done in 28 years. It's the best our offense has played all year."
Ane was undeniably proud of his defensive unit for shutting out a normally potent Saint Louis offense. Jonathan Overton, who had two of his team's four sacks, credited the scheme.
"When they have five O-linemen and we have only three down linemen, we can play with the outside. And our ends are good, so they can switch around," the 6-3, 245-pound senior said. "Sam (Higgins) occupied the tackle, so I came in free."
Ane may have no time at all to savor the break in Punahou's drought.
"It's hard to enjoy it. We have a tough Aiea team coming up," he said of the matchup on Saturday in the opening round of the state tournament. "(Against Saint Louis) we couldn't have scripted it much better."
The game plan and schemes were in place.
"It's great to have 11 (running back Mark Nobriga) back. The whole team worked hard," Ane said. "You can have the plays and schemes, but the kids still have to perform. They did that."