Punahou makes first State playoff appearance since 2016, set to face off with Mililani

The HHSAA State football tournament chugs along and this week the Open Division tournament begins with four teams fighting for the Koa Head trophy
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 6:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The HHSAA State football tournament chugs along and this week the Open Division tournament begins with four teams fighting for the Koa Head trophy — one side of the bracket sees No. 2 seed Punahou taking on Mililani.

The Buffanblu make their long awaited return to the state tournament for the first time since 2016, bringing an 8-1 record and an ILH Championship along with them.

A significant turn around from 2021 where Punahou would finish going 1-4.

“Gone through a great summer, a great fall camp, and going through the battles of the regular season have allowed us to have a great season thus far.” Punahou head coach Nate Kia told Hawaii News Now. “You know it’s put us in a position to compete here in the State championships.”

Now setting their sights on the Trojans, the Sons of Oahu say they’ve benefited from the two week bye and are ready to make a statement in Mill Vill.

“You know, we’re really rejuvenated having these two weeks of bye weeks that we’ve had.” Coah Kia said. “It’s been really helpful for us and we’re just focused on being best prepared physically and mentally to do what we do best.”

“A lot of the boys, I know we’re just really excited, but we just know we have to stay focused and just do what we have to do in order to continue and keep playing in the state tournament.” Punahou quarterback John-Keawe Sagapolutele said. “We’re just really happy and the boys are really excited to represent not only Punahou, but also the ILH.”

This match up may look familiar, the last time these two teams faced off at the state tourney was the 2014 title game, a game that saw both teams fighting to the bitter end with Mililani outlasting the Puns to win their first State Championship, but according to both teams that’s in the past and they’re only focusing on what’s right in front of them.

“Right now we’re 0-0 and we want to be 1-0 and Punahou is who we play and that’s our only focus for us, everything else doesn’t matter.” Mililani head coach Rod York said. “We’re getting our mindset right, readjusting our mindset, making sure we make the right corrections and make sure the kids make the corrections and just make sure we’re locked in all together and come out swinging on gameday.”

Kick off between the Buffanblu and Trojans is set for Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Mililani’s John Kauinana Stadium.