HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Saint Louis in D-I final
On a night when their starting quarterback was knocked out for the season, the Saint Louis Crusaders showed championship resilience.
In other words, defense ruled the night. Again. Jacob Barit returned an interception for a touchdown and Kenton Chun provided a go-ahead 18-yard field goal in the fourth quarter as top-seeded Saint Louis rallied past Waianae 10-7 last night in the semifinals of the Division I First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA State Football Championships.
Barit battled an injury all week, and then leg cramps during the second half.
"This is a good Christmas present," the 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior said.
"It's a team effort," Chun said. "The offense drove the ball down and our defense held them. (The field goal) was just one play."
A raucous, tense crowd of 10,691 saw the underdog Seariders take a 7-0 lead into halftime. With Saint Louis quarterback Micah Mamiya out with a first-quarter injury (broken collarbone), Waianae fans had reason to be optimistic.
Instead, the Crusaders relied on their superb defense and steady special-teams play to reach the state-championship game. Saint Louis (11-0), ranked No. 1 in the Star-Bulletin Top 10, will meet Kahuku for the title Friday at Aloha Stadium.
Waianae, the Oahu Interscholastic Association runner-up, closed the season 8-5.
"Saint Louis is a good team, but we're supposed to beat them," linebacker Chad Duran said, stifling his emotions. "Just knowing that we couldn't pull through. It's my senior year, and we can't do nothing about this."
Saint Louis coach Delbert Tengan guided his team to the state crown in 2002. The veteran coach gave kudos to Tamatoa DeMello, the backup who filled in nicely for Mamiya.
"That's part of the game of football. You're always one play away from getting in there," Tengan said. "This is what we expected. Waianae is a tough team."
DeMello was almost in a daze after the game.
"I knew I had to keep my linemen up," he said of his early entry into the game. "I knew I had to stay calm. I just want to thank everybody. They kept telling me, 'We got your back, we got your back.' My coaches said, 'Just play your game.' "
Saint Louis finished with 190 total yards, but had just one turnover. Shane Ahlo led his team with 40 rushing yards, while DeMello had just 53 passing yards on 3-for-9 accuracy.
Solomona Aigamaua had four solo tackles and two assists for Saint Louis.
Waianae managed 215 total yards against a stingy Saint Louis defense. The Seariders, who had just seven first downs, were led by Danny Kekoanui (64 rushing yards). Ben McQuown threw for 31 yards on 4-for-10 passing with two picks.
David Paaluhi had a team-high six solo tackles for Waianae.
"I'm extremely disappointed. We played well enough to win," Seariders coach Daniel Matsumoto said. "You have to give credit to Saint Louis."
As expected, the game was a defensive struggle from the start. Saint Louis' best scoring opportunity came on the opening series of the game. However, Waianae linebacker George Kauwalu soared around the right side of Saint Louis' line and blocked a 23-yard field-goal try by Chun.
Early in the second quarter, DeMello threw an interception deep down the left sideline. Matthew Ibanez returned the ball 49 yards, with the help of a few blocks, to the Saint Louis 16-yard line. Four plays later, McQuown escaped the clutches of Aigamaua, rolled left and threw a strike to Miller Ualesi in the back of the end zone.
Waianae led 7-0 with 8 minutes to play in the second quarter.
The Crusader offense continued to struggle in the second half, but their defense came through. Aigamaua chased McQuown and had one paw on the jersey when the quarterback tossed up a weak pass that was picked off by linebacker Jacob Barit.
The senior raced into the end zone with an easy 7-yard return, and the game was tied at 7 with 5:30 to play in the third quarter.
"I was just trying to do my job and keep my contain," Aigamaua said. "I had him, but he's very quick. I said, 'Oh, my gosh, he got it off.' I pulled him down and then I saw Jacob running with the ball."
Saint Louis 10, Waianae 7
At Aloha Stadium
|Saint Louis (11-0)
Wain--Miller Ualesi 8 pass from Ben McQuown (Willie Duseigneur kick).
StL--Jacob Barit 7 interception return (Kenton Chun kick).
StL--FG Chun 18.
RUSHING--Waianae: Danny Kekoanui 14-64, Justin Kauwalu 12-47, McQuown 9-28, David Ferreira 4-11, Preston Cummings 1-2, team 1-(-3). Saint Louis: Shane Ahlo 3-40, Lene Auelua 10-36, Micah Mamiya 4-20, Keani Nishigaya 6-10, Austin Wakinekona 6-9, Devan Essner 1-0, Tamatoa DeMello 4-(-3).
PASSING--Waianae: McQuown 4-10-2-31, Christopher Santiago-Yoshioka 1-1-0-35. Saint Louis: DeMello 3-9-1-53, Mamiya 1-4-0-25.
RECEIVING--Waianae: Ualesi 3-26, Richard Tacgere-Bailey 1-35, Joe Abell 1-5. Saint Louis: Kuli'a Aiona 2-41, Ricksson Pacarro 2-37.