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Crusaders bringing back plenty of weapons

By Billy Hull


At least Saint Louis coach Matt Wright has a little more time to prepare this season.

"I was announced the head coach in June and had no idea what I was getting into," said Wright, who was the Crusaders' defensive coordinator before taking over for Darnell Arceneaux two months before the start of last season.

"With having a full year now, I kind of know what to expect and I at least have an idea of what's going to come my way."


Prep Football Countdown

Preseason Top 10

10. Lahainaluna

9. Waianae

8. 'Iolani

7. Leilehua

6. Mililani

5. Kamehameha

4. Farrington

3. Saint Louis

2. Tuesday


Date Opponent
Aug. 10 Baldwin**
Aug. 17 Kahuku*
Aug. 30 Kamehameha*
Sept. 6 Pac-Five*
Sept. 14 'Iolani*
Sept. 27 Damien*
Oct. 4 Punahou*
Oct. 11 St. Francis*

* -- Aloha Stadium
** -- War Memorial Stadium


Date Opponent Result
Aug. 16 Farrington L, 39-33
Aug. 25 Baldwin W, 46-0
Sept. 1 Bishop Gorman (Nev.) L, 52-40
Sept. 8 'Iolani W, 68-39
Sept. 14 Punahou L, 43-14
Sept. 21 Damien W, 40-7
Sept. 28 Kamehameha W, 34-23
Oct. 6 Pac-Five W, 31-6
Oct. 12 Kamehameha L, 43-19
Oct. 19 Punahou L, 38-0

Saint Louis failed to win more games than it lost for the first time since 1982, finishing 5-5.

Nonetheless, the Crusaders check in at No. 3 in the Star-Advertiser's preseason top 10 poll for 2013.

"Once last year ended, I said to myself, ‘Hey, I've got to revamp my staff,' " said Wright, 34, who played college football at UH. "I brought in a defensive coordinator, I changed offensive coordinators, I did a whole bunch of things.

"There's still a learning curve, but we've got a foundation that has been laid."

The Crusaders return lots of experience on the offensive side of the ball, beginning with quarterback Ryder Kuhns (6-1, 225), who split time as the starter last year with Kawai Mook-Garcia.

Thrust into action as a sophomore due to injury and suspension, Kuhns had to carry a heavy load as a youngster but fared admirably, throwing for 246 yards off the bench in a 52-40 loss to national powerhouse Bishop Gorman of Nevada.

He also started against ranked teams Punahou, Farrington and ‘Iolani before Mook-Garcia took over for the final four games.

"There's no controversy behind it; Ryder is our guy," Wright said. "We've got guys behind him that are very, very talented and pushing (Kuhns) every day, but Ryder is our guy. He's gotten bigger and stronger from a physical standpoint and we're developing him into being more of a leader."

Kuhns has all kinds of weapons at his disposal, beginning with returning starter and first-team All-ILH running back Adam Noga.

Noga (5-10, 180) averaged 103.4 rushing yards a game last year as a dominant downhill runner with an explosive first move.

Wright cautions that the Crusaders aren't just a power running team, but have some other players who can torture opposing defenses with their speed.

"We've got great balance with our backs," Wright said. "(Noga) is that one-cut-and-he's-gone kind of player, but we've also got some shifty, speedy guys right behind him."

Sophomore Drew Kobayashi (6-2, 205), the intermediate ILH 400-meter individual champion in track last year, has the tools to replace last year's leading receiver, Jeremy Tabuyo, now at Texas A&M.

Seniors Devan Stubblefield (6-1, 205) and Jordan Eugenio (5-10, 165) bring returning experience on the outside, with Stubblefield also capable of playing the slot.

Junior tight end Spencer Johnson (6-3, 220) is another pass-catching threat, giving Kuhns plenty of firepower to work with.

"Any quarterback in the state would love to have the group of guys that Ryder has to throw to," Wright said.

He should have plenty of time to make his reads behind a stout offensive line that features returning second-team All-ILH junior Fred Ulu-Perry (6-2, 310) and senior Louis Vaiota (6-2, 315).

"That should be the strength of our offense," Wright said. "They are going to dictate a lot of what we do this season."

All-ILH first-team defensive back Jacob Lacaden (6-0, 210) is the leading returnee on defense.

The biggest question mark for Wright coming into the season is his front seven.

Defensive lineman Peter Sagapolutele (6-0, 240) serves as a co-captain with Lacaden, and Wright calls senior Michael Jennings (5-10, 190) his best linebacker.

"That's where we're putting a lot of focus right now," Wright said. "Defense is my bread and butter, it's where I'm most comfortable and it's what we're working the most on."

Saint Louis travels to War Memorial Stadium to play Baldwin opening weekend before a showdown with Kahuku at Aloha Stadium on Aug. 17.

The Crusaders begin the ILH season with Kamehameha on Aug. 30 and wait more than a month before playing Punahou on Oct. 4 under the new ILH scheduling format.

The team with the best record among the three ILH Division I teams will get a bye in the playoffs, facing the winner of a game between the other two for the right to play in the state tournament.

With only one game against both Punahou and Kamehameha during the regular season, one of the Crusaders' two biggest games will take place in August.

"How that's going to play out, I'm not sure," Wright said. "There's both positives and negatives, but we'll try to focus on the positives and be sure to get our boys ready to play everybody.

"With that type of mentality, it shouldn't matter who we're lined up against."

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Ldub20_Owl316 wrote:
Expect a lot of Iolani fans to hate on the Crusaders. It ain't my fault most of Iolani's graduates are arrogant egotists!
on August 5,2013 | 02:29AM
luckyman wrote:
It must really kills you that a Iolani alumni is the Crusaders head coach, and leading your boys. Be careful, he might drop to D2.
on August 5,2013 | 07:30AM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 5,2013 | 08:24AM
wlsc wrote:
well said!!!!
on August 5,2013 | 08:54AM
OregonRedRaider wrote:
very well said indeed. that never crossed my mind at how small St. Louis's enrollment is...wow.
on August 5,2013 | 09:16AM
luckyman wrote:
Agree, Iolani should be in D1 football. Don't get so worked up. Just noting, St. Louis has half the enrollment because Iolani is COED. Give St. Louis credit, only boys school left.
on August 5,2013 | 09:24AM
kailuabred wrote:
St Louis has about the same number of boys in 10 through 12th grade as Iolani (I called to check) and actually has quite a few more in their freshman class (140 ). I don't hate the Crusaders. I just understand the differences between the 2 schools.
on August 5,2013 | 12:39PM
AhiPoke wrote:
Actually, unless you include the girls, their enrollments are similar. If you want to talk about enrollment unfairness issues, how about starting with Farrington playing any sport at D-2. The real problem for Iolani going to D-1 is not the enrollment it's the size of their players. If you check their roster against most of the rest of D-1, they'd be giving up 20-50 lbs. across the board. Even the team they beat for the D-2 title last year was significantly bigger than them.
on August 5,2013 | 02:21PM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 5,2013 | 02:36PM
hunebasami wrote:
Why because they use brain not brawn?
on August 6,2013 | 01:09AM
Ldub20_Owl316 wrote:
That explains their poor season.
on August 6,2013 | 01:40AM
puamamane wrote:
Punahou or Kahuku? With veteran QB and receiver, I'm thinking Puns
on August 5,2013 | 05:31AM
PokeStop wrote:
But Kahuku has the heart and work ethics to bring home another state title. Puns are all show and no go each season. Kale needs to go....all the recruited talent and nothing to show!
on August 5,2013 | 08:04AM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 5,2013 | 08:13AM
wlsc wrote:
well said!!!!
on August 5,2013 | 08:54AM
OregonRedRaider wrote:
Puns have a lot of returnees, however, at Kahuku, they don't re-build, they RE-LOAD..... but it don't matter, it just matters at the end of the season where your ranked right?.....GO BIG RED....
on August 5,2013 | 06:25AM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 5,2013 | 08:18AM
wlsc wrote:
well said!!!!
on August 5,2013 | 08:55AM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 5,2013 | 07:29AM
PokeStop wrote:
Iolani have shame? It's all about state championships by default! Kamoku Street football is the biggest joke in Hawaii!
on August 5,2013 | 08:02AM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 5,2013 | 08:10AM
kahuku01 wrote:
And don't forget Hal Silva, before Eddie Hamada reign at Iolani. He came to Kahuku and started the winning tradition.
on August 5,2013 | 03:32PM
hunebasami wrote:
Maybe div 1 should be like horse racing. handy cap by weight. Iolani will win by averaging about 180 lbs on the line. and 5 feet 8 in the secondary.
on August 6,2013 | 01:13AM
Ldub20_Owl316 wrote:
Father Bray is also rolling in his grave about the attitudes of Iolani kids these days. Didn't Father Bray preach humility? Because his team ain't showing none of it!
on August 6,2013 | 08:57AM
brokenspoke wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 5,2013 | 08:22AM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 5,2013 | 08:43AM
hunebasami wrote:
Kaiser will be a power this year. I'm a believer in Rick Miano. UH lost a great coach, UH got Chow Time And Chow Down.
on August 6,2013 | 01:18AM
username_required wrote:
Iolani had an African American running back in the early 80s.
on August 5,2013 | 08:33PM
Ldub20_Owl316 wrote:
Roland Ruff
on August 6,2013 | 08:55AM
hunebasami wrote:
Its not racist it's IQ,
on August 6,2013 | 01:15AM
Sunny wrote:
Now were are down to #1 and #2, Punahou and Kahuku!
on August 5,2013 | 02:42PM
kahuku01 wrote:
Punahou should be ranked number 1 as the 2013 football season opens up. With the number of key players returning, it's only obvious to have them ranked number 1. It shouldn't have any bearing as to where Kahuku is ranked at this time of the season. December should see some changes in the rankings and the final ranking should be the goal for all schools. This Billy Hull and Paul Honda's football ranking is just a big joke anyway, when SA is too lazy to put out a separate state rankings for div I and Div II.
on August 5,2013 | 03:28PM
NotNasti wrote:
Funny how Ldub said "expect a lot if Iolani fans to hate on the Crusaders. . . " The only hate I saw on this thread was against Iolani. Their state championships . . . it is what is is. It's not D1. They can't claim to be the best in the state. Just like St. Louis before them, they are going to lose eventually, and this year might just be the year.
on August 5,2013 | 08:16PM
Ldub20_Owl316 wrote:
There is nothing Iolani's string of pseudo-championships have got in common with all of the Prep Bowls SLS won. SLS may have recruited but won against teams that ALSO did it. Iolani ain't doing that.
on August 6,2013 | 01:41AM
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