HONOLULU – They have an all-around offense, a top-ranked defense and years of tradition.
The only problem for St. Louis (9-2) is they’re expected to steamroll Waimea tonight in the semifinals of the Chevron State Football Championships at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
Everyone knows what happens to teams that face Waimea (8-1) under those expectations. Kailua, which fell to the Menehune, 24-21, in the quarterfinals, discovered that twice so far. In 1999, the Surfriders came with their high-powered offense to Vidinha Stadium and fell, 20-18.
Always underrated and rarely appreciated, the Menehune have done what only St. Louis has in the past four years – taken a trip to the State Football Championships all four times. They’ve eliminated three teams in those four years, and by the time the State championships have announced a winner, they’ve risen several spots in the HSN and Advertiser State rankings.
Still, the Menehune have yet to win in the semifinals. They are 3-3 overall in State tournament play – 3-0 at Vidinha Stadium, 0-3 at Aloha Stadium. The Menehune haven’t had much luck on turf. They find it hard to feel comfortable playing in the vastness of a stadium.
The Crusaders, on the other hand, practically call Aloha Stadium their home. They play most of their preseason and regular season games in the stadium, and essentially have home field advantage for every team they face there.
The Crusaders have made the State finals all four years and won it in 1999. They are 8-2 overall in State championship games – 4-0 in the quarters, 3-0 in the semifinals and 1-2 in championships.
St. Louis is ranked No. 1 in the State in Advertiser and HSN polls. They ousted Farrington 41-23 last week to reach the semifinals.
Who to look for: Waimea’s Jon Palacio threw for over 100 yards against Kailua, which is significant for a quarterback in a non-passing offense. Jordon Dizon, with over 1,150 yards and 15 TDs in five games, ran for two one-yard TDs against Kailua, although he had just 56 yards rushing in the game.
Defensive back, wideout tandem Tyson Fernandez had Dane Koga will again be a factor against an electric Crusader passing offense. Each had two interceptions against Kailua. Koga ran back an interception 25-yards for a TD, and Fernandez’ end-zone interception in the fourth quarter stifled a Surfrider comeback.
Andres Emayo and Jay Parinas also had one interception apiece in the game.
At the linebacker position, look for Gary Mata and Emayo to step it up. Brandon Ishibashi, Lanikai Kanahele, Fia Moe, Kalae Durant, Nalu Mata, Joe Kali, Kaimana Agni and Jesse Cabitan, among others, will fill up the offensive and defensive lines.
Cory Rita will help with special teams. He hit a 43-yard field goal against Kailua. And Rhyan Parbho and Pomokai Chang-Wo will provide more juice to the Menehune running game.