HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Punahou No. 1 in season’s first poll
In 18 years as varsity wrestling coach at Kahuku, Reggie Torres knew blood, sweat and tears quite well.
Changes. Adaptation. Improvisation. In the end, though, he knows his roots, and if that means sticking with basics under the lights of Aloha Stadium -- in his coaching debut as a varsity football coach -- so be it.
When defending state champion Kahuku fell to Punahou 20-18 in a rematch of last year's final on Friday night, the mettle and might of the Buffanblu stepped to center stage. Brett Kan conducted a furious finish by Punahou, tossing a winning touchdown pass to Kyle Whitford on the final play of the game.
Kahuku, though, was part of the equation. The Red Raiders had the ball in the final 6 minutes and weren't exactly in slow-down, clock-management mode. In fact, they were in a hurry-up pace, breaking out of the huddle quickly and snapping the ball with more than 15 seconds left on the play clock. A fumble inside Punahou territory gave the Buffanblu their opportunity to win, and they capitalized.
Kahuku used 12 ball carriers and four quarterbacks and went as deep as the fourth string.
"We told our guys that everybody plays," Torres said. "It's a good way to get a look at our guys, but we brought in our first team when we got the ball in the red zone."
In addition, the Red Raiders didn't blitz a whole lot.
"We had guys subbing in and out, so we kept it simple," Torres admitted.
That gave Kan the time he needed to come through in the clutch.
Kahuku will open defense of its Oahu Interscholastic Association crown on Friday when Kailua visits.
Punahou, meanwhile, has had the luxury of two-a-days because school doesn't open doors until Thursday. The Buffanblu certainly rose to the challenge of facing Kahuku's mammoth offensive line.
"I think we've worked hard to get to this position," coach Kale Ane said of his team's No. 1 ranking in the season-opening Star-Bulletin Football Top 10. "But it's preseason. I think last year's team made sure this group worked hard. They want to earn it themselves."
The poll includes perennial powerhouses Saint Louis, Kamehameha and Mililani, but Farrington generated plenty of talk from coaches. Elijah Filifili's passing prowess sparked a big win at Waianae on Friday. The Governors landed in the poll at No. 7.
Campbell, meanwhile, spoiled Castle's return to home turf. With new bleachers and a home game for the first time since 2004, the Knights were unable to stop the Sabers' Wing T attack often enough.
Campbell entered the poll at No. 10.