Kahuku's running did in Crusaders
|||Kahuku beats St. Louis for second state football title|
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
Although he was a Red Raider, last night family came first.
Nebraska All-America guard Toniu Fonoti, who played in an O'ahu Prep Bowl against St. Louis several years back, returned to watch his younger brother ... on the St. Louis sideline.
Fonoti's brother is Crusaders senior inside linebacker Taualai Fonoti, who led his team with 11 tackles. Although he is a graduate of Kahuku, Toniu knew where his allegiance was. At least last night.
"Blood is thicker than water," he said.
Fonoti was home for the weekend to take care of family business. Nebraska has a break before finding out which bowl it will play in later this month.
"It was just a neutral feeling," Toniu Fonoti said. "I'm glad Kahuku won, but I'm kind of hurting because my brother wasn't able to pull off this victory. I'm just happy to be here, to watch both teams that I like. I thought it was a good game."
The younger Fonoti, a 6-foot-1, 240-pound senior, also knew where his heart was. He transferred from Kahuku and, of course, knew a number of players across the field.
"I may have lived there and may have grown up with those players, but I'm here and I consider St. Louis my new school." Taualai said. "It's where my heart is. I don't have mixed emotions. They won because they were the better team."
He said it was nice to have his brother on the sidelines for support.
"There were moments when we were down and it really helped push me up to play better," Taualai said.
But St. Louis' performance was not good enough. The Red Raiders vaunted running game smashed the Crusaders' defense for 337 yards. Running back Mulivai Pula had 209 yards on 23 carries, including a game-breaking 81-yard touchdown run that cushioned Kahuku's lead to 21-7 with 3:11 left in the third quarter.
"We went through everything Kahuku had done," Taualai said. "We prepared mentally as well as physically. It's just missed assignments. We basically hurt ourselves today."
Adding to the hurt was that the Crusaders could not give coach Cal Lee a victory on his last game as coach.
"I really wished we won," defensive lineman John Siofele said. "It's his last year and he's a great coach. There's not enough words to describe him. I wished we could have gone out with a win. But that's life. You have your ups and downs and you have to deal with it."