*GAME OF THE WEEK
Saint Louis HS (HI) 34, Kamehameha HS (HI) 23
Jeremy Tabuyo has come a long way since he was the subject of my first-ever feature story two years ago. From winning the fastest man at JuniorRank's Arizona showcase as a sophomore, to being flown halfway around the world to be honored that year at the prestigious Maxwell Football Club in Atlantic City. To blowing out his knee early into his junior year. To bouncing back, better than ever, with a much-needed monster effort Friday night in Halawa.
Although his coach didn't say it during the week, Tabuyo knew it was a must-win game for the Crusaders and consequently responded with his best game of the season.
Tabuyo hauled in four touchdown receptions to lead Saint Louis to a 34-23 win over Kamehameha in a pivotal Interscholastic League of Honolulu game before a crowd of about 6,000 at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium.
The Crusaders, ranked fifth in this week's ScoringLive/OC16 Power Rankings, improved to 4-3 overall and 3-1 in the ILH to pull within half a game of league-leader Punahou (4-0) for the league's Division-I title race. The sixth-ranked Warriors, who dropped to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in league play, suffered a blow to their postseason hopes.
"It feels great to have a big game. We knew all week that we'd have to come out strong and just play hard," said Tabuyo, a senior wide receiver who has given a verbal commitment to Texas A&M. "I give credit to the offensive line. The O-line did everything. It started off with the O-line and Kawai making the right reads. I just did my route, got open and all I had to do was catch the ball so it made it easy for me."
Tabuyo's four receiving scores came on passes of 27, 25, 11 and 68 yards - all from quarterback Kawai Mook-Garcia.
"We knew that both Kamehameha and us were in the same scenario and that we both had to fight to get back into it," Crusaders head coach Matt Wright said. "We never told the kids this is a must-win situation, but we wanted to express and really relay the sense of urgency that is needed behind this and emphasize the kind of opportunity in front of us if we took care of one game at a time."
Mook-Garcia, who made his second straight start since an ankle injury, finished 17-of-24, passing for 320 yards with no interceptions.
"You want to talk about grit and sticking through it and supporting your brothers and staying positive the whole time, I mean, that's exactly what Kawai did," said Wright of his senior quarterback. "I'm extremely proud of him."
Mook-Garcia guided the Saint Louis offense to 409 yards of total offense and 17 first downs, including 13 by pass. Adam Noga led the Crusaders' rushing attack with 60 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown.
Kamehameha pulled to within 27-23 after a Makoa Camanse-Stevens touchdown pass to Austin Gerard with eight minutes to play.
Tabuyo and the Crusaders responded with a quick answer. They drove 72 yards in just four plays, culminating in Mook-Garcia's 68-yard touchdown pass to Tabuyo with 5:18 to play. On the scoring play, Tabuyo lined up wide left of the formation and beat his defender down the sideline. He pulled in the deep pass near the 30-yard line and went untouched the rest of the way. The extra point, by Ihaka Johnson, was good, to make the score 34-23.
The Warriors' final two drives ended in a turnover on downs and the end of the game.
"Jeremy had a terrific game. I'm sure he had some big numbers," Wright said. "When you talk about the biggest performers stepping up on the biggest stage, that happened tonight and as a whole, I'm very proud of our entire offense and defense."
Kamehameha opened the scoring with a 44-yard field goal by TJ Fitzsimmons, but Saint Louis took the lead for good with seven seconds left in the first quarter on a 6-yard Adam Noga touchdown run.
Tabuyo had two of his touchdown catches in the second quarter, sandwiched around a 1-yard Sala Wily touchdown run for Kamehameha. Tabuyo's second touchdown grab—a 25-yarder—came on the final play of the first half.
"That was huge," Tabuyo said of the play. "It set the tempo for us coming into the second half. We saw the way they were playing man coverage and we just thought that was a good play against their defense."
Wright did not underplay the importance of Tabuyo's second touchdown reception.
"That was huge, you talk about a momentum-changer," Wright said. "[Kamehameha] came down and started to make some adjustments on us, they scored right before we got the ball going into that last drive and for us, it's all about momentum. In a game like this, where either team can really run away with it or keep it close, it's all about the momentum. So we were able to capture momentum with that—we were fortunate. Kawai put up a great ball and Jeremy made a heck of a catch."
Saint Louis went up 27-10 on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Mook-Garcia to Tabuyo early in the third quarter, but the Warriors answered with two early fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Camanse-Stevens hit Jake Kealohi for a 26-yard touchdown pass and followed that by finding Gerard for a 13-yard score minutes later to make it 27-23. However, the extra point was blocked, forcing Kamehameha to get a touchdown as a field goal would do it no good.
Tabuyo put the game out of reach with his fourth touchdown reception on the Crusaders' ensuing drive.
"You have to give [Tabuyo] credit, you know, beating our guy deep on that play," Kamehameha coach David Stant said. "The quarterback hit him on the run and that's him just being a player."
Camanse-Stevens finished 18-of-33 passing for 283 yards without an interception. Gerard caught seven passes for 148 yards—both game highs—and Kaulana Apelu ran for 71 yards on 21 carries.
"It was a tough loss, but hats off to our boys. Our boys fought hard. They gave us a chance—both offense and defense," Stant said.
*PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Jason McAfee, Midland Lee High School (TX)
McAfee was the Homecoming rage as the senior tailback had a half to remember in a 44-10 win over Lubbock Coronado Friday night. He rushed for 223 yards and scored five touchdowns in just over two quarters of play during a downpour.
Yianni Gavalas, Westminister School (CT)
Silky-smooth southpaw signalcaller set school records for passing yardage (447), threw for five touchdowns and ran for another in a 42-38 loss to St. Thomas More.
Will Weathers, Brook Hill School (TX)
Dual-threat senior quarterback was 8 for 9, passing for 177 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for 107 yards and three more scores in a 62-28 pasting of T.K. Gorman.
*PHOTO OF THE WEEK: "Feel The Payne"
Senior running back Ashanti Payne from Robbinsdale Cooper High School in Minneapolis could have easily been one of my PLAYERS OF THE WEEK after piling up five rushing touchdowns and 249 yards on just 8 carries in a blowout of Fridley Friday night. This picture gives you an idea of just how difficult it is to bring down the 5'10", 190-pound powerhouse, who is averaging over 14 yards per carry on the young season. He is a major college prospect from the Land of 1,000 Lakes.
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