Red Raiders' line made a lasting impression
By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin St. Louis coach Call Lee, right, congratulates Kahuku's Tuika Tufaga after last night's game, won by the Red Raiders.
Kahuku's offensive and defensive fronts set the tone in a 26-20 victory
If first impressions are the most important, consider the dents both Kahuku lines put on St. Louis early in last night's 2000 Chevron State Football Championship game.
The first drive of the Red Raiders' 26-20 victory set the tone, as St. Louis running back Pesefea Fiaseu rushed up the middle three times for one yard.
"They did a real good job on penetrating and an awesome job of practicing our plays," Fiaseu said.
The Kahuku offense then ran right at the Crusaders' front, which was missing two all-staters. Mulivai Pula capped an eight-play, 60-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown run.
By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin Mulivai Pula lets out a yell after scoring Kahuku's final touchdown on a 25-yard run that made the score 26-14 in favor of the Red Raiders.
"After the first drive and we scored it gave us a lot of confidence and boosted us throughout the game," Red Raiders quarterback Inoke Funaki said.
Kahuku rushed for 270 yards.
"They know our game so we came out here and played 'madman' and strongest man wins," Kahuku tackle Chris Kemoe'atu said.
The Crusaders weren't surprised, just overpowered.
"We knew what they would try to do (on the line)," St. Louis defensive line coach Sam Downey said. "They just came out to win a championship and they did it."
Kemoe'atu was the key. Kahuku running backs followed their favorite 330-pound blocker who says he "just likes to hit people."
"He was everything for us tonight," Funaki said.
Kemoe'atu -- who played despite a sprained knee -- did more than just open holes for Pula, Funaki and Marcus Salanoa. He recovered two fumbles, including one that gave Kahuku a first down on the Crusader one and led to Salanoa's second touchdown and the lead the Red Raiders would keep.
"I was there at the perfect time. It's called luck," Kemoe'atu said.
Meanwhile, the Kahuku defense made life difficult for St. Louis quarterbacks Kelika Higa and Bobby George. Higa passed for 165 yards and a touchdown but was sacked four times and hurried throughout the game. George wasn't sacked, but completed only five passes for 68 yards.
Kahuku defensive tackle Jonathan Mapu didn't lose respect for the St. Louis quarterback duo.
"They gave us a real challenge," Mapu said. "They're great quarterbacks."
Red Raiders 26, Crusaders 20
St. Louis (14-1)0 7 0 13 -- 20
Kahuku (13-2)7 0 7 12 -- 26
Kah--Mulivai Pula 9 run (Solomon Lee kick) StL--Pesefea Fiaseu 1 run (Haa Bento kick) Kah--Robert-Marcus Salanoa 1 run (Solomon Lee kick) StL--Pesefea Fiaseu 22 run (Haa Bento kick) Kah--Robert-Marcus Salanoa 1 run (kick failed) Kah--Mulivai Pula 25 run (run failed) StL--Frank Rivers 5 pass from Kelika Higa (kick failed)
Team Statistics St. Louis Kahuku
First Downs 18 18
Rushes-Yards 24-65 54-270
Passing Yards 233 45
Total Offense 57-298 65-315
Passes (Att-Cmp-Int) 33-18-0 11-5-1
Punt Returns-Yards 0-00 2-15
Kickoff Return-Yards 4-76 4-77
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 3-0
Penalties-Yards 4-47 11-98
Punts (No-Avg.) 4-20.3 1-22.0
3rd Down Conversions 5-12 6-16
4th Down Conversions 1-3 3-5
Time of Possession 19:51 28:09
Rushing--St. Louis: Fiaseu 16-88, Higa 4-(minus 24), Beaver 2-(minus 1), Dickerson 2-2. Kahuku: Salanoa 20-87, Funaki 12-71, Pula 16-112, A.J. Smith 1-1, F. Fonoimoana 1-1, E. Atuaia 2-4, Team 2-(minus 4)
Passing--St. Louis: Higa 13-19-0 165, George 5-14-0 68. Kahuku: Funaki 5-11-1 45.
Receiving--St. Louis: Dickerson 8-130, Fernandez 2-36, Nakasato 3-35, Inferrera 1-15, Mokuahi 2-8, Rivers 2-9. Kahuku: Hafoka 4-42, Napaa 1-3.