A St. Louis coach pulled a player away after a scuffle broke out with Castle, forcing the end to last night's game.

Batts’ return a backbreaker

St. Louis back on top
Castle’s ‘small men’ almost did

By Nick Abramo

They've got tradition, technique and size, and they've even got state legend Cal Lee coaching special teams.

And it sure didn't hurt the St. Louis Crusaders to have B.J. Batts carrying the football last night at Aloha Stadium.

Batts gave St. Louis a huge injection of momentum late in the first half when he returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown as the Crusaders pulled away for a 34-15 victory over Castle in the state final.

Just 1:06 remained in the first half and the Crusaders led 14-6 when Batts gathered in Ethan Gonsalves' kickoff at his own 1. The speedy running back started up the right hash marks, broke a leg tackle attempt by the Knights' Kawika Sebay, continued his way toward the right sideline, benefited from a few blocks and raced the rest of the way into the end zone.

"I caught it and ran," the shifty Batts said. "There was nothing else to do but that."

Castle coach Nelson Maeda pointed to that return as a key to the game.

"That TD on the kickoff return at the end of the first half made a huge difference," Maeda said. "That made it 20-6 instead of 14-6 and it really hurt."

Even though the play happened on special teams, Lee didn't take the credit.

St. Louis receiver Shane Butcher and Castle's Ernesto Lopez and Louis Mansanas Jr. battled for a pass last night.

"(Head coach Delbert Tengan) had that all set up," Lee said. "He had it all worked out, having the kids practicing hard on kickoff returns, and it paid off all year."

Batts also scored a 1-yard TD run in the first half and added a 10-yard TD in the fourth quarter. He finished with 73 yards rushing on 11 carries and 31 yards on three receptions. He also broke away for three sizable gains that were called back because of penalties.

Batts' final TD was set up by the hard up-the-middle running of backfield mate Justin Cabansag. A fake to Cabansag sold the Knights' defense and Batts came sprinting parallel to the line of scrimmage to get a handoff and find daylight around right end.

Cabansag was named the offensive player of the game, rushing for 106 yards and a TD.

"I'm happy for Coach Tengan," Batts said. "We wanted to bring it back, bring it back, bring it back. That was our slogan all year long and we did it. We kicked ass for Jesus."

In 12 previous games, Batts rushed for 908 yards and 14 touchdowns on 124 carries. He also had 13 receptions for 99 yards, and his 49-yard touchdown run was the go-ahead score as the Crusaders rallied to beat Farrington in the first round of the states. He finished with 102 yards rushing and two TDs in that game.

Batts wasn't the only one happy for Tengan.

Lee, who won 13 Prep Bowls in a row from 1986 to '98 and the inaugural state title in 1999 before Kahuku beat the Crusaders the last two years, was thrilled for his successor.

"I'm so happy for the job he's done," Lee said. "He showed the passion and did the hard work, and the guys got better each week. I hope he stays around for a long time."

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