Crusaders' 16-year run on line
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
St. Louis got help from an old friend last weekend to force tomorrow night's Interscholastic League of Honolulu football championship against Kamehameha.
Eugene Tanner The Honolulu Advertiser
Kamehameha's Caleb Spencer is wrapped up by St. Louis' Kaleo Oerriera, left, and Tolifili Liufau on Sept. 27. St. Louis hopes to keep its strangle hold on ILH football when the teams meet again tomorrow.
Eugene Tanner The Honolulu Advertiser
At stake for the Crusaders (6-1 ILH, 7-2 overall) is the state's longest reign of league football titles at 16; the Warriors (6-1, 9-1) are looking for their first league crown since 1979. St. Louis returned to No. 1 in The Advertiser Top 10 since falling to Kamehameha, 41-20, on Sept. 27. The Warriors dropped to No. 2.
In the Crusaders' 14-13 win last Saturday against the Warriors, a large part of their success was the return of the "elephant." It is a goal line offense that calls for the team's best athletes, even those who play defense. It is a double tight end formation with two running backs, one of them usually a linebacker, and one wideout. The tight ends are usually defensive linemen, who get to run pass routes on occasion. The defensive players not only bring bulk, but more athleticism to the offense.
"We felt we needed that in a crucial situation," St. Louis coach Delbert Tengan said. "We couldn't score from one yard the first time we played them."
He was referring to the Sept. 27 game, when St. Louis, trailing 19-14 at the time, had first-and-goal at the Kamehameha 1 and failed to score. Tengan said the Crusaders had not used the formation for awhile because of a lack of depth on the offensive and defensive lines.
"We felt we'd try to stay in the platoon system as much as we could," Tengan said. "But if we learned anything from the De La Salle game, you put your best people out there and make the plays. If their guys could go both ways almost the whole way, then using guys only in certain situations should be no problem."
Kamehameha vs. St. Louis Records: No. 2 Kamehameha 9-1, No. 1 St. Louis 7-2 Coaches: Kanani Souza, 7th season at Kamehameha, 62-21-1; Delbert Tengan, 1st year at St. Louis, 7-2. History: Split regular-season series; Kamehameha won first game, 41-20, St. Louis won second, 14-13. Since 1997, St. Louis leads series, 9-3-1, including 3-0 in playoff situations. Kamehameha has 22 ILH titles, its last in 1979; St. Louis has 29 ILH titles, including the last 16.
Kamehameha vs. St. Louis
Records: No. 2 Kamehameha 9-1, No. 1 St. Louis 7-2
Coaches: Kanani Souza, 7th season at Kamehameha, 62-21-1; Delbert Tengan, 1st year at St. Louis, 7-2.
History: Split regular-season series; Kamehameha won first game, 41-20, St. Louis won second, 14-13. Since 1997, St. Louis leads series, 9-3-1, including 3-0 in playoff situations. Kamehameha has 22 ILH titles, its last in 1979; St. Louis has 29 ILH titles, including the last 16.
Even without the elephant, the Crusaders regular offense has been clicking with a healthy Jason Rivers at wideout. He had seven catches for 154 yards, including a 45-yard TD, a far cry from his 4-for-45 total in the Sept. 27 game.
While the Crusaders may have found help with the elephant, the Warriors discovered their heart from Caleb Spencer.
Spencer has been hampered by a shoulder injury that forced him from quarterback at least on a full-time basis to receiver. He made his only pass attempt last week count: a one-yard TD pass to Kahe Santos. But as a receiver, he caught five passes for 50 yards. He never played receiver during his entire time in the Warriors system from the intermediate level.
"He's just a special kid," Kamehameha coach Kanani Souza said. "He could barely lift his arms, but he wanted to go."
At practice, when the second and third teams took repetitions, Spencer would jump off the sidelines and into one of the receiver spots and not miss a beat. Spencer knew the receivers' routes because he had to know them as the quarterback, Souza said.
"He's a student of the game," Souza said.
With Spencer, the Warriors have four threats to catch the ball. Keoni Ruth and Josh Vierra were prime targets all season. Tight end Santos is the next-most called-on receiver.
Meanwhile, backup QB Kawai Akina did not miss a beat, completing 19 of 26 passes for 213 yards last week.
For Kamehameha, Spencer is sort of symbolic of the Warriors season. Injuries have hit them at a number of positions. The latest casualty is guard Shane Cazimero (knee), who was injured in Saturday's game.
"This is one special bunch of kids," Souza said. "All year, win, lose or draw, they've been resilient. They keep fighting back."
As for St. Louis, Tengan said the Crusaders are fortunate to be where they are.
"We were just two kicks from having our season done," he said. "We have to make the most of it."