Crusaders, Buffanblu
face best from Utah

Commitment keeps
Kamehameha out
of doubleheader

Three years have passed since then-defending state champion Saint Louis met the nation's No. 1 team at Aloha Stadium.

On that night, De La Salle downed Saint Louis 27-17, extinguishing the Crusaders' dream of making national headlines. De La Salle extended its win streak to 127 games and went on to 151 before it was through.

Fast forward three years, and Saint Louis is a bit off the radar. The Crusaders' run of 18-consecutive Interscholastic League of Honolulu titles came to an end last year. However, nothing would make its return to the top more notable than a win over one of the top teams in the West.

Saint Louis will get that opportunity against Utah's 5A state champion, Davis, on Sept. 10 at Aloha Stadium. That game leads off a doubleheader that also features Punahou and Utah's 4A champ, Timpview.

"This is another great opportunity to showcase Hawaii high school football," Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive director Keith Amemiya said. "The 2002 HHSAA/First Hawaiian Bank Football Classic provided great national exposure for the entire state and has led to increased interest in our football players by top-notch college football programs across the country, as well as increased media attention."

The current Hawaii defending champion, Kamehameha, was unable to participate due to a prior scheduling commitment against Leilehua. The two teams played for the state crown last year.

Kahuku, which played in that doubleheader three years ago and lost to Long Beach Poly, will be well into its Oahu Interscholastic Association schedule when the classic kicks off.

"No OIA teams were available to play (this year) because of previously-scheduled regular-season games and OIA-ILH interleague games," Amemiya said. "We hope to have OIA teams and perhaps some neighbor-island teams participate in future HHSAA Foundation Football Classic events."

Saint Louis (7-3) narrowly missed winning the Interscholastic League of Honolulu title last year. The Crusaders finished at No. 5 in the Star-Bulletin Top 10.

"I feel it's a great opportunity for the kids in our program to go and face Utah's finest and see where we stack up," Saint Louis coach Delbert Tengan said. "The No. 1 reason for this game is to prepare us for a tough ILH season. Facing a tough ballclub like Davis will only help us to get better for the regular season."

The Crusaders lost a wealth of talent to graduation, but linebacker Jared Silva is a key playmaker.

"We're just starting our summer workouts and conditioning. If anybody, the lead guy is Jared. He turned heads at the combine with his speed and strength. Hopefully, we'll have more guys who can contribute," Tengan said.

Saint Louis and Davis have already exchanged game tapes.

"Basically, they're a good running team. People might think that means they're a grind-it-out offense. They played Cottonwood for the title, just an unbelievable game. The game ended up being 50-43 in overtime," Tengan said. "They struck from all over the place on the ground. They're just a well-coached ballclub."

Davis, coached by Ryan Bishop, strikes a familiar chord.

"I think they're like a Kahuku where they'll establish the run and mix in some option," he said.

The Timpview-Punahou matchup will be one of run-and-shoot aerial attacks.

Punahou was 5-5 last season, but that included a year-ending upset of then-sixth ranked Iolani. The Buffanblu victory prevented Iolani from playing off for the ILH crown. Interestingly, some watchers consider Timpview a better team than Davis.

"I like the idea that we get to play one of the top teams in Utah. It's a nice way to judge where you're at," Punahou coach Kale Ane said. "I don't know much about them except that they're real good and have a few local coaches."

Timpview coach Louis Wong graduated from Castle in 1981. Three of his assistants are from Hawaii: Gary Clark, Bobby Kauo and Jason Walker. Clark and Walker are from Leilehua. Kauo hails from Roosevelt.

In addition, both Timpview and Davis have significant Polynesian communities and strong local ties. Hawaii native and current BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae has a son in the Timpview lineup. Anae's sister, Wendy, recently resigned as girls basketball coach at Kahuku and will teach and coach at Timpview.

Punahou has the benefit of several returnees on offense, including quarterback Brett Kan. The junior has recovered well from a season-ending leg injury.

"He's worked really hard, done a lot of conditioning and is looking forward to the challenge. He's had a chance to rest it and rehab it," Ane said.

For both Hawaii teams, the opportunity is golden.

"Any time you play a great program like Davis is, you have to be prepared. You're gonna find out where your strengths and weaknesses are," Tengan noted. "The hype and attention are there. You can look good in practice, but until you play under the lights, you don't know what kind of team you have."

Saint Louis plays Waianae on Aug. 26 and Farrington on Sept. 2 before playing Davis. The sting of last year's second-place finish has worn off, but the memory remains.

"When you don't fulfill something that's been happening for 18 years, there's a determination to get back where we were," Tengan said.

Punahou's pass-league schedule resumes this week. The Buffanblu face Damien on Friday and Kapolei on Saturday.

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