HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou's Miah Ostrowkski couldn't come up with a Brett Kan pass as Baldwin's Jeremy Fuller looked on in the first half.
Punahou on to state final
The showdown of run-and-shoot gunslingers left only one team standing last night.
In the end, it was the team with more run -- Punahou -- that endured for a 30-7 win over Baldwin that was far more difficult than the score indicates.
The Buffanblu, demonstrating the kind of balance that's different from the pure passing attack of years past, ran 35 times and wore down the Bears.
Punahou also took advantage of seven turnovers to stifle Kalehua Moniz. The strong-armed playmaker came out with bombs galore in the early going, but Punahou's defensive adjustments took away Baldwin's deep threats.
From that point on, it was a chess match between Punahou coach Kale Ane and Baldwin's first-year coach, Jimmy Morimoto.
Punahou (11-2), the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion, will meet Kahuku on Friday in the final of the HHSAA/First Hawaiian Bank State Football Championships.
"We mixed it up with man and zone," Ane said of his team's superlative defensive effort against one of the state's most prolific quarterbacks. "Baldwin had some bad breaks. A lot of their guys go two ways. I think it caught up with them a little."
The Maui Interscholastic League champions, who return 15 starters next year, closed the season 11-1. "The kids played hard, and our coaches worked their butts off to get them ready," Morimoto said. "We've got one of the fastest teams around, but some of our guys going both ways got tired. I'll still put my best 11 against their best 11 any time."
A crowd of 9,629 at Aloha Stadium saw Punahou's balanced offense and speedy defense take command in the second half. In all, Punahou amassed 243 total yards, running 35 times for 74 hard-earned yards. Brett Kan completed 15 of his 26 passes for 169 yards, including three interceptions by a stout Baldwin defense.
Baldwin finished with 172 total yards, including just 18 rushing yards on 24 attempts. Moniz threw four interceptions and lost two fumbles.
"I just made mistakes, and good teams capitalize on mistakes," said Moniz, who had 23 touchdown passes and just nine interceptions in 10 MIL games. "I made some bad reads. I was trying to make too many plays."
After dropping tight press coverage, Punahou's defense came up with a slew of turnovers. Safety Jay Angotti had two picks.
"We kind of had to settle down. We weren't focused, but we went to a more set defense," the senior said. "We knew Moniz could throw deep, so we used zones across the top. Then we played the game we can play."
The Bears wasted little time establishing their presence. Jensen Somera returned the opening kickoff 78 yards to the Punahou 18-yard line. Four plays later, on third and goal, Moniz rolled left, eluded a tackle and flipped a 4-yard touchdown pass to Chase Nakamura. Baldwin led 7-0 with 9:53 left in the opening quarter.
River Kim went from goat to hero in a matter of a few minutes. After Kim fumbled on a pass reception to give Baldwin a first down at the Punahou 26-yard line, the Buffanblu defense came up with a key play.
Angotti intercepted a pass by Moniz that ricocheted off the hands of Colten Quinabo. On the ensuing play, Kan got rid of the ball quickly against Baldwin's blitz and found Kim streaking down the left sideline. Kim's 78-yard touchdown play tied the game at 7-all with 1:22 remaining in the first quarter.
After a scoreless second quarter, Punahou's defense came through in the third, forcing Baldwin into a three and out. That led to a 12-play, 40-yard scoring drive, with all the yardage, except for an 11-yard face-mask penalty coming on the ground.
Kan snuck in from the 1-yard line to give Punahou a 14-7 lead with 1:50 left in the third quarter.
A major blunder for the Bears ended their next possession. A low snap to punter Dane Fernandez scooted away, and he fell on the ball at the Punahou 20-yard line. An 18-yard pass from Kan to Jeremiah Ostrowski on third and 9 kept the drive alive. Kan snuck in again from the 1-yard line to give Punahou a 21-7 lead with 9:13 remaining in the game.
Punahou 30, Baldwin 7
At Aloha Stadium
Bald--Chase Nakamura 4 pass from Kalehua Moniz (John Takitani kick).
Pun--River Kim 78 pass from Brett Kan (Kim kick).
Pun--Kan 1 run (Kim kick).
Pun--Kan 1 run (Kim kick).
Pun--Kainoa Carlson 5 run (Kim kick).
Pun--Safety, Scott Steiner sacked Moniz in end zone.
RUSHING--Punahou: Carlson 18-49, Colin Viloria 5-9, David White 1-6, Kyle Whitford 1-6, Christopher Wong 3-4, Reid Nakahara 1-2, Kan 4-0, Pono Akina 2-(-2). Baldwin: Moniz 10-21, Oli Decambra 2-6, Chansi Bolosan 3-6, Kyle Kaaihue-Kaimiola 2-5, Kaulana Alo-Kaonohi 7-2, Dane Fernandez 1-(-22).
PASSING--Punahou: Kan 15-26-3-169, Akina 0-1-0-0. Baldwin: Moniz 11-24-4-145, Jordan Helle 1-3-0-9.
RECEIVING--Punahou: Miah Ostrowski 6-51, Viloria 3-13, Kim 2-85, Whitford 2-2, Chris Unemori 1-11, Carlson 1-7. Baldwin: Nakamura 4-25, Colten Quinabo 3-29, Alo-Kaonohi 2-17, Kainoa Klask 1-42, Ikaika Lau 1-38, Decambra 1-3.