HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Tamatoa DeMello failed to make a reception for Saint Louis while being covered by Kamehameha's Chaz Bajet last night.
Saint Louis survives
The Saint Louis Crusaders were happier than ever to see the clock run out last night.
The top-ranked Crusaders got a fourth-quarter touchdown run from Austin Wakinekona to escape with a 14-7 win over No. 8 Kamehameha at muggy Aloha Stadium.
Saint Louis improved to 2-0 in Interscholastic League of Honolulu play (5-0 overall) after winning its closest game of the season. Kamehameha dropped to 0-2 in league play (1-2-1 overall) despite showing marked improvement offensively.
The weather was so still and humid, the flags standing above the north end zone did not move throughout the game, a rarity. Four key starters for Saint Louis -- quarterback Micah Mamiya, defensive tackles Ryan Eastman and Geordan Hanohano, and safety Manoa Latu -- went down with severe cramps in the fourth quarter.
If Kamehameha had managed to tie the game and force overtime, Saint Louis could have been in some trouble.
"Kamehameha came out to play. We were too hot-headed in the locker room. We took them lightly," said Latu, a senior who helped the defensive unit bend without breaking in the second half.
With Saint Louis' defense able to rein in the Warriors after halftime, Mamiya guided the Crusaders on a pivotal touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter. Saint Louis drove 85 yards in 12 plays with the help of two key Kamehameha penalties: a pass interference call and an illegal head contact (spearing) during a sack of Mamiya. Wakinekona's 3-yard touchdown run gave the Crusaders a 14-7 lead with 9:31 left in the game.
During the ensuing drive, Michael Hoke hit three receivers in a row as the Warriors marched to the Saint Louis 28-yard line, but the drive stalled. A sack by Marcus Gonzalez and a deflection by Marcus Umu on fourth down ended the threat, and Kamehameha never got back into Saint Louis territory again.
Hoke was 16-for-27 for 178 yards without an interception, often dumping passes to his running backs and firing quick slants.
"Hoke did good. He had a helluva game," Latu said. "He was reading our blitzes real good."
Kamehameha had the benefit of a bye week to prepare.
"That really helped," Hoke said. "Everything we game-planned for is what they did. But now we have to win out and get help from the Division II teams."
The Warrior defense limited Mamiya to 5-for-19 passing and just 103 yards. They also limited the speedy senior to 17 rushing yards on eight carries, but Saint Louis' kicking game was a factor in the battle for field position.
The Crusaders took advantage of a third-down pass interference call to drive 72 yards for a touchdown on their initial series. Wakinekona romped up the middle for a pair of 17-yard runs to spark the drive, and Mamiya found slotback Tamatoa DeMello open on a streak route for a 24-yard touchdown pass. The Crusaders led 7-0 with 4:13 left in the opening quarter.
Kamehameha outgained Saint Louis in total yardage 163-95 by intermission, but the Warriors didn't find the end zone until late in the first half. Pii Minns' 44-yard catch on third and 14 gave the Warriors first down at the Saint Louis 5-yard line. Truman Chun burst off right tackle on the next play for the touchdown, and the game was tied at 7 with 2:44 to go in the first half.
Coming off a bye week, the Warriors were well prepared. Out of pistol and shotgun sets, Hoke threw for 123 yards in the first half on 9-for-13 passing without a turnover.
Mamiya, meanwhile, was 2-for-11 for just 54 yards in the first half. His ability to avoid turnovers was key, particularly after suffering a cramp to his right calf.
"I started taking Gatorade and eating Skittles," the senior said. "I took a step down from last week. They came with a lot of blitzes, some new looks."
Saint Louis has now won six in a row against Kamehameha.
"Coach (David Stant) said we played really well, but we ran out of time," Hoke said.