(Photos By: Jay Metzger / Hawaii Media Source)
By Kyle Galdeira
Behind the arm – and legs – of Saint Louis’ senior quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, the Crusaders pulled out a thrilling 31-28 victory over perennial power Kahuku to claim the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Open Division State Championship earlySunday morning before a lively crowd of 22,436 at Aloha Stadium.
Trailing 28-24, Saint Louis received the ball with 46 seconds remaining in the game on its own 47-yard line after forcing a Kahuku punt as the Red Raiders attempted to run out the clock. On the ensuing play from scrimmage, Cordeiro heaved a rainbow-like pass down the field, and senior receiver Jonah Panoke plucked the pigskin out of mid-air, ripped the ball away from a pursuing defensive back, and danced into the end zone to complete the 53-yard scoring strike that turned the tables for good.
Cordeiro finished the game with 440 yards and three touchdowns, and kept his squad alive on multiple occasions – a result his 19 yards on 20 carries does not reflect. The gunslinger connected with Panoke eight times for 152 yards and the deciding score, found speedster Mitchell Quinn five times for 131 yards and two scores, and hooked up with Chance Beyer a game-high nine times for 96 yards.
The Red Raiders (11-2) were led by sensational sophomore quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava who passed for 252 yards and four touchdowns, while adding 94 yards on the ground via 14 carries. Kahuku scored three unanswered touchdowns – all via passes from Maiava – to put the North Shore squad ahead 28-24 with 6:25 to play in the contest.
In the highly anticipated battle between Interscholastic League of Honolulu and O‘ahu Interscholastic Association champions, the Crusaders (10-0) took a 14-7 lead late in the second quarter as Cordeiro connected with Quinn on a 95-yard pass that the speedy receiver took down the sideline to the delight of the raucous pro-Saint Louis crowd on that side of the field.
Saint Louis senior linebacker Noa Purcell led all defenders with 11 total tackles, while Kahuku’s Kaonohi Kaniho picked up nine takedowns in defeat.
The title is the second consecutive Open Division state crown for the Crusaders, and Saint Louis’ third top-division championship since 2010.