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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, November 29, 2001

Scouting report: Skill, speed vs. momentum, motivation

 •  St. Louis-Kahuku III seen as virtual tossup
 •  Organizers expecting large crowd

By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer

Having your high school football team go up against Kahuku or St. Louis can be a coach's biggest challenge.

But try playing them both.

Five coaches have had to prepare their teams for both Kahuku and St. Louis within the past 16 months. As far as perspective on tomorrow night's state championship game between the two powerhouses, no one knows what each team possesses better than these five men.

Here is how each sees the title game shaping up:

• Wendell Say, 'Aiea (Lost to St. Louis, 54-7, Nov. 17; lost to Kahuku, 48-0, Nov. 9):

"As far as talent, I think Kahuku has got more. But St. Louis has looked real tough the last three weeks. Kahuku looked a little banged up against Waimea, but I think they'll both show up (in peak form). Both teams played their best games in the (league) championships. It's a good matchup; it's gonna be a good game. It's a tossup."

• Darren Johnson, Kailua (Lost to St. Louis, 48-7, Nov. 24; lost to Kahuku, 48-7, Sept. 28):

"It's going to come down to turnovers and mistakes, and maybe who has the ball last. St. Louis has been getting better every week, and they're starting to play consistently. Their front seven (on defense) might be better than last year; we were having our problems blocking them. And I'm sure they want (coach) Cal Lee to go out a winner.

"But Kahuku wants to defend their title. They've got kids with the skills who can do it. Both teams have great players. They've both taken high school football here to the next level. It's going to be a heckuva football game."

• Dan Matsumoto, Wai'anae (Lost to Kahuku, 21-6, Oct. 27; lost to St. Louis, 63-10, Nov. 25, 2000):

"I gotta go with Kahuku. I think they're a little stronger, more physical on the line, and they've got speed and a lot of skill players, too. I would fear their running attack more ... not that St. Louis doesn't have one, too.

"St. Louis has a great passing attack. I think we needed 12 guys if we were going to stop them. They're well-coached, you can tell just in their formations that they're real disciplined in what they do.

"Both teams are good, it's a tough one. I'd give the edge to Kahuku, but it should be a real close game. I don't think it'll be a blowout."

• Nelson Maeda, Castle (Lost to Kahuku, 57-10, Sept. 21; lost to St. Louis, 48-0, Nov. 17, 2000):

"It's going to come down to who makes the least amount of mistakes. I saw St. Louis (last week) and came away very impressed. They take great pride in stopping the run, and they seem to be peaking at just the right time. They have great talent and a great system — a very analytical passing game — and they're well-coached. Their players have great technique and don't make a lot of mistakes. They have good chemistry in that program, the continuity of their coaching staff.

"Up until a couple weeks ago, Kahuku looked unstoppable, and they still might have an edge because they are talented at every position. They have a good passing game, but they're also not afraid to run the ball if you put only five in the box. (Running back) Mulivai Pula gives them a whole different dimension.

"Personally, I'd rather stop the run and have Kahuku throw the ball. But it's tough to prepare for either team. You just have to take the lesser poison."

• James Millwood, Mililani (Lost to Kahuku, 34-19, Sept. 8; lost to St. Louis, 36-10, Aug. 18, 2000):

"I think it's going to depend on Kahuku's turnovers. St. Louis looks like it's getting better and better. To me, Kahuku has more talent overall, but I'm really impressed with St. Louis' (defensive) front. Kailua tried to run on them the first series and didn't go anywhere. Then they tried to pass, but (the Crusaders) were able to cover the receivers.

"Against St. Louis, you want to concentrate on their passing game. If (Kahuku) can get to their quarterback, they can keep it close. (The Crusaders') running game is mostly draws and traps. Kahuku is the opposite: you want to stop their run, their option and their outside game.

"Both teams are really good. It'll probably come down to turnovers and penalties."