It took 16 seconds for Saint Louis to squelch any notion of a potential letdown following a momentous week for the program.
After a rousing interstate victory vaulted Saint Louis into the top 10 in the national rankings, the Crusaders returned to ILH Open Division play on Friday and dominated from the start in a 42-7 rout of No. 6 Kamehameha at Aloha Stadium.
Crusaders defensive back Harvey Welch returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown on the game’s second play from scrimmage and safety Kamo’i Latu scored on a 60-yard pick-6 early in the second quarter in Saint Louis’ 30th consecutive victory.
“We treat every team the same, nothing different,” Latu said following Saint Louis’ 11th straight victory in the series with Kamehameha. “We just come out and give it our all and just dominate. That’s what we do.”
Riding a 31-19 victory over Nevada power Bishop Gorman a week earlier, Saint Louis rose to No. 8 in this week’s MaxPreps Xcellent 25 and No. 9 in the USA Today Super 25.
Welch’s quick touchdown set the tone and quarterback Jayden de Laura’s efficient first half helped send Saint Louis, No. 1 in the Star-Advertiser Top 10, into the locker room with a 40-0 lead.
“You expect something like that, it’s only natural,” Saint Louis coach Cal Lee said of the potential for a letdown. “But I was pretty happy that the came out fired up and they were ready to play.”
De Laura completed 10 of his 12 passing attempts and tossed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Roman Wilson in the first quarter and a 26-yarder to Makena Ramos-Kamaka on his final throw of the night.
He also led Saint Louis with 52 rushing yards, while Kaohu Kamakawiwo’ole and Jason Cruz capped drives with short touchdown runs.
“It’s not that they just have a lot of good players, you turn the film on and they do not make very many mistakes,” Kamehameha coach Abu Ma’afala said. “If you’re making mistakes and they’re not, they’ll make you pay for the mistakes that you make. That’s what happened in the first half.”
Saint Louis pounced early when Welch jumped a route on a throw by Jonah Yuen and had a clear path to the end zone.
De Laura led the Saint Louis offense to the end zone on the Crusaders’ first two possessions, and Kamehameha forced a three-and-out on the third when de Laura was sacked on third down.
But on the second play of the second quarter, Kamehameha backup quarterback Kiai Keone looked deep downfield where Latu was waiting. After crossing midfield up the sideline, Latu cut across the middle and broke free for the score.
“Shout out to the D-line, they really helped me on that,” Latu said. “Everyday in practice we go over the plays and repetition and muscle memory.”
Kamehameha broke up the shutout on the third play of the third quarter when defensive back Paliku Kamaka intercepted a pass from Saint Louis backup Connor Apo and sprinted down the sideline for a 42-yard touchdown return. Kamaka also came down with another interception later in the quarter and recovered a fumble on a Saint Louis punt return.
But the Crusaders defense continued to shut down the Warriors, holding Kamehameha to 56 yards in total offense, 36 coming on a reception by Blaze Kamoku in the second quarter.
Saint Louis pushed the Warriors backward for minus-38 rushing yards and held Kamehameha under double-digit scoring for the sixth time in the last seven meetings.