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Punahou's returning talent not thinking about the past

By Jason Kaneshiro


Punahou won eight games last year and 11 the year before.

But two that went the other way tend to stick in the memory.

The Buffanblu won back-to-back Interscholastic League of Honolulu titles —pushing the program's total to 24 — and advanced to the Division I state tournament final the past two years.

Both seasons ended with losses to Kahuku, and taking that next step has been on their minds heading toward another season. But as the opener nears, keeping their focus on the tasks immediately ahead takes precedence.

"It's hard to forget, but we try to do our best to put it aside," senior quarterback Larry Tuileta said. "It's a new year and we just want to take it one day at a time. We want to finish, but we don't want to look too much ahead just because there's so much to do before that."

The return of Tuileta and receiver Kanawai Noa — both first-team All-State selections last season — provides the Punahou offense with a solid starting point. The Buffanblu were voted second by coaches and media in the Star-Advertiser's preseason poll.

For Tuileta, a two-sport standout, getting his right arm back into throwing shape after devoting a chunk of his summer to volleyball is the first priority. Back for his third season as the Buffanblu starter, he's working to build on a junior season in which he threw for 2,592 yards and 29 touchdowns against just four interceptions while completing 64 percent of his attempts.

"Switching back and forth isn't too bad, especially when you have good coaches and you've been in the program so long," said Tuileta, who has committed to the University of Hawaii in both sports. "The coaches were good about telling me what was new in the system. This is a new year, so there's a bunch of new things to learn."

While there may be some new wrinkles in the playbook, he'll have a familiar target with Noa's return. Noa averaged nearly 21 yards on his 63 receptions and caught 15 touchdown passes in a breakout sophomore season.

"To have Tui back there and, of course, Kanawai and Dakota (Torres) at tight end and a couple of great linemen, it makes you feel a little easier at night," Punahou head coach Kale Ane said. "But every program goes as its line goes. It's a work in progress.

"(Noa's) exceptional. Everyone in the state knows about him and we're trying to develop a couple other receivers to take some pressure off of him."

K.J. Sekona helped clear the way for Ryan Tuiasoa as Punahou's starting fullback last season, and moves back a few steps in the formation to take over at tailback. In a scrimmage with Farrington last Saturday, the 6-foot-1 245-pounder punched in two touchdowns and carried the ball on 12 of 13 plays on a second-half drive.

"It was the first time he really got to run the ball, and he did a very good job," Ane said. "We wanted to get him used to running. He's a big kid and he's got great hands, so it's really a nice weapon to have and he just needs to get used to it."

When the defense takes the field, attention tends to gravitate toward 6-foot-7 defensive end Canton Kaumatule.

Kaumatule sat out the scrimmage to rest a shoulder injury, but expects to be back in practice this week and is projected to be among the nation's top college prospects in the 2015 graduating class.

But like his teammates, the junior isn't letting his gaze wander too far down the road.

"I'm not too worried about the college process right now," Kaumatule said. "My dad keeps track of all of that. He's going to expose me to it in a little bit, but not yet."

Along with Kaumatule, Ane credits the senior class, which includes linebacker Tumua Tuinei, defensive back Joe Augafa and fellow lineman Ruairi Brady, for "setting the pace for us defensively."

The scrimmage with Farrington capped Punahou's camp week and the Buffanblu will have close to two weeks to build off those lessons before opening the season at Mililani on Aug. 15, the first step in a journey they hope leads to one more win at the end of the season.

"Every year's new. We've thought about it, but now it's time to concentrate on learning the concepts and strategies we have and going out and performing," Ane said.

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Ldub20_Owl316 wrote:
Let's hope Rex Kamakana or Ryan Kunihiro don't say any racist things about Punahou.
on August 6,2013 | 01:41AM
PokeStop wrote:
Wow! Calling these two buddies of yours out, no class Ldub!
on August 6,2013 | 08:02AM
eastside808 wrote:
Who the are these people and what do they have to do with this article? The best team in the State pound for pound has been Iolani's team of little Raiders. Say from 2005 to the present, they have pretty much been the class of fitness, execution and heart. I would say that is pretty racist.
on August 6,2013 | 07:40AM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 6,2013 | 08:12AM
kahuku01 wrote:
The same holds true for the Army, Navy and Air Force football teams. They're not as huge in stature as the other Division I colleges, but they're in there scrapping it out with teams that outweigh them in every position. A lot of times, it takes the athleticism and all heart to compete at a higher division and competition. This is how you determine the boys from the men.
on August 6,2013 | 10:13AM
Hanalei13 wrote:
Amen. The Service Academies pour their heart and souls into the sport while gearing up to serve their country. They do it for the love of the sport, the camaraderie, and the character building. Iolani seems to have lost their way, becoming infatuated with being the "Kings" of D2 and rolling over their opponents and losing sight of why the sport is played. All those D2 trophies mean nothing because all Iolani wants to do is win. They had the chance to move up to D1 a couple years ago but wimped out because they couldn't "compete" with Punahou, Kamehameha, and St. Louis. What a shame. That would have allowed ILH to send 2 teams to states, but instead, Iolani selfishly stuck to D2. ILH should make them move up, just like OIA does with moving champions from the White to Red divisions.
on August 6,2013 | 10:37AM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 6,2013 | 11:18AM
jimmyhouse67 wrote:
Yes, but they are getting a top notch education, so does it really matter? Whether you're Kahuku, Punahou, Iolani, St. Francis, etc. approximately 99% will have to work for a living rather than go pro. I think Iolani graduates are happy with their futures.
on August 6,2013 | 12:08PM
luckyman wrote:
Ten years ago, it was a good idea for Iolani to move to D2. The St Louis, Kamehameha, and Punahou teams were physically so much more dominant. Injuries was a major factor. The gap between these teams isn't as wide as before. Iolani should try to move up to D1. Although physically they should play D2, their knowledge and skills are D1. As for Hanalei13 saying they should move up so the ILH can get two teams in the States, you're the selfish one. By the way, ILH will still only get one berth in the state tournament. OIA won't let it happen.
on August 6,2013 | 02:52PM
Ldub20_Owl316 wrote:
With guys like Donny Mateaki, Willy Kava, and Uriah Moenoa? They may have had bigger players than PUNAHOU back then!
on August 9,2013 | 01:39AM
eastside808 wrote:
Did you guys even check the schedule for some of the service academies? Not too many top Div 1 programs on their schedule, so that argument is out the door. Lahainaluna has been in Div 2 for awhile yet they have beaten Baldwin a Div 1 program a number of times and have come into States as favorites but still lost to Iolani. Anyway you look at it both Raiders programs have been good these past years.
on August 6,2013 | 03:35PM
kahuku01 wrote:
They might not be top Div I programs but the teams they play are in Div I, and not Div II or III. When they do go to a bowl game, it's always with a Div I team.
on August 6,2013 | 04:37PM
jimmyhouse67 wrote:
By the way, I've exposed my email numerous times, how come you hide behind a false name? Back it up one day.
on August 6,2013 | 01:27PM
justchecking wrote:
agree with you, Descartes22
on August 6,2013 | 04:23PM
LFR2 wrote:
U grown men (ex players I'm assuming) bickering and whining over your petty ILH issues. Bet you're overwhelming identity and ego is tied to your team/school to an 'unbalanced' degree. Who the heck are these people? (and who cares?). Hope you at least graduated with your sociology degree and made the police department.
on August 6,2013 | 07:40AM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 6,2013 | 08:16AM
kahuku01 wrote:
Evidently, the coaches and news media doesn't have much confidence in Punahou's coaching staff.. A team with many key returning personnel, I would think that the votes would sway to Punahou as being picked as number 1 in the early season rankings. Kahuku's offensive and defensive key positions are practically being replaced by a no name team and is over ranked by the coaches and news media. Being ranked high with Punahou, Kamehameha and St Louis, before the opening of the season is an honor and hope the Red Raiders will hold their own again this year.
on August 6,2013 | 10:00AM
OregonRedRaider wrote:
we dont re-build, we re-load, year in, year out... don't you see the future "red raiders" playing tackle football on the makai side of the football field when there is a varsity game going on on the field.... they are playing with no pads, funny stuff, you have to dodge kids and the football when you try and walk through there to your seats or back to the concession stands. RR4L.....
on August 6,2013 | 01:01PM
NorthShoreFan wrote:
It is quite revealing of Punahou's shortcomings to personally know that Kale approached Kahuku's defensive coordinator, Kimo Haiola, soon after the States with an offer to coarch at Punahou. Once again, trying to purchase local talent. Kimo has built a credible reputation throughout Hawaii football and an extremely loyal Red Raider.
on August 6,2013 | 10:21AM
Descartes22 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 6,2013 | 11:13AM
Eradication wrote:
Describing someone as "Yellow (cowardly)? You sure you want to go there? We get it though. You don't like Punahou or Iolani. We get it. Move on and find something else to comment about like maybe offense/defense scheme's or uniform colors, anything but the same redundant stuff. It would make for far more interesting reading and people might actually respect what you write.
on August 9,2013 | 01:11AM
jimmyhouse67 wrote:
Sorry you didn't have the intelligence or money to get into a good school. By the way, I can turn the topic anyway I choose, thus the purpose of a blog. You can say anything and so can I. You're jealousy and constant drivel is tiresome. And before you spout off about how you are a "big donor" to UH, so what, you're no better than anyone else. I have a master's and a doctorate but that makes me no better than you, also no less than you. It's a kids sport, let the kids enjoy it. By the way, football isn't everything as Punahou and Iolani along with other private schools have brought numerous state titles in other sports. Idioto.
on August 6,2013 | 01:25PM
kahuku01 wrote:
Sorry, I must disagree with you on having intelligence or money to get into a good school, and I'm assuming schools like Punahou, Iolani or St Louis. Past practice by ILH schools is that financial aid and tutoring are provided for blue chip athletes throughout the state. An athlete doesn't have to be intelligent or parents with money to be able to attend these schools. Having a master's and a doctorate degree doesn't always provide the right answers to common knowledge issues. These athletes are being scouted from when they are participating in Pop Warner, and provided with the assistance to attend the private schools. Intelligence or money is secondary when an athlete is considered exceptional by the ILH schools.
on August 6,2013 | 01:51PM
lowtone123 wrote:
Punahou with their unmatched resources, can get the best talent from the whole state. Shouldn't they be winning titles every season?
on August 6,2013 | 12:25PM