Saturday night’s game between Long Beach Poly and Punahou was a meeting of two teams with a lot in common. Both represent storied traditions and an enormous group of loud, active, and involved alumni. That’s where the comparisons end, at least for now: the Buffanblu’s uniforms read “Sons of Oahu” across their chest, and on Saturday evening, the sons of Oahu flattened the sons of Long Beach in a running clock 45-0 victory.
“Tough game,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “I’m happy with the effort we showed in the second half, we were able to get some stops. We have a lot to clean up, a lot to work on before we play Los Al next week.”
The Jackrabbits’ next game will be at Friday in their home opener at Veterans Memorial Stadium against Los Al, in a game televised on Fox Sports. Most Poly players and coaches would rather the film be tossed out from their opener with Punahou.
The Buffanblu were at a distinct advantage from the start. They’re an experienced team with four games under their belt already this season, while Poly was in its opener with a very young roster. Barbee didn’t want to use that as an excuse, but acknowledged it was a major difference.
The game started horribly for Poly as the Jackrabbits fumbled on a low snap on their first play. Punahou recovered, then Poly held them to a field goal. Poly and Punahou’s defenses both held firm after that, but a blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Punahou put them up 10, which is where the margin stayed until the second quarter.
The second quarter was a disaster for Poly, with Punahou putting up 28 points and pulling away to 38-0 at halftime; Poly only allowed one score in the second half.
In all, the Buffanblu scored 17 points on special teams failures by the Jackrabbits, and were a cut better in every phase. They outgained the Jackrabbits 310 yards to 170, held Poly to 2/10 on third down, and forced Poly to take a hard look at itself in the mirror.
The Jackrabbits defense wasn’t physical–they were blown off the ball by a Punahou line that let RB Vincent Terrell rush for 131 yards on 7.3 yards per carry. The Poly offense looked scattered, which wasn’t supposed to happen with their new offense; quarterbacks Shea Kuykendall and Mekhi Jordan combined for less than 100 yards, and spent more time evading defenders then looking for receivers.
Poly’s special teams needs the most work, with a blocked punt for a touchdown and a kickoff return for a touchdown going Punahou’s way.
Receiver Keyontae Lanier led Poly with three catches for 53 yards and Ashun Brown had eight for 43 yards, but they were the only two players with catches.
Poly will host Los Al at Vets at 7 p.m. on Friday.