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Wolves Sports

Honolulu Advertiser: Punahou on Mainland stage

Posted Friday, September 01, 2006 by Wes Nakama

Posted on: Friday, September 1, 2006

Punahou on Mainland stage

By Wes Nakama
Honolulu Advertiser
Staff Writer


Out of the nation's 38,000 high school athletic programs, Sports Illustrated ranked Punahou No. 4 in its May 16, 2005 issue.

People in the Pacific Northwest will get a first-hand look at the Buffanblu's prowess in girls volleyball and football today and tomorrow, respectively.

Punahou's girls will join seven teams from Washington today in the Emerald City Invitational at Eastlake (Sammamish, Wash.) High School. Two of the teams, Emerald Ridge (South Hill) and White River (Buckley), played in Washington's state tournament last year.

Punahou has won three of the past six state championships.

"We're all excited, everyone is pumped up," Buffanblu senior Larissa Nordyke said Tuesday afternoon. "It's an eight-team tournament and we'll be playing all day, so it'll be a physical and mental challenge. But we want to represent Punahou well, and we're healthy and ready to compete. We can't wait."

After winning state titles in 2003 and 2004, Punahou suffered through injuries last season and failed to qualify for the state tournament. The Buffanblu also went through a coaching change in the offseason, with Jim Iams returning after a 25-year absence to take over for Scott Rigg.

"It's a whole new philosophy, but we're only going to get better and we're definitely bouncing back after last year," senior Liz Ka'aihue said. "This trip is not a vacation for us; we're going up there to compete and win."

Punahou's football players have the same goal, but will be on a much bigger stage.

The Buffanblu, 2-0 and ranked No. 1 in The Advertiser's statewide Top 10 poll of coaches and media, face Eastlake at 5 p.m. (Hawai'i time) tomorrow at 67,000-seat Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. It will be the feature game of the 10-team Emerald City Kickoff Classic.

"That's one of the biggest things, playing at Qwest Field," said Punahou senior quarterback Brett Kan. "I've never even been to an NFL stadium before, and how many high school kids get to play in one? It's gonna be nuts."

Advertiser All-State receiver Miah Ostrowski, who has traveled to Las Vegas the past three summers as a member of Hawai'i all-star basketball teams, acknowledged this trip will be different from any other.

"We're excited to play against Mainland competition, to see how they play football," Ostrowski said. "Sometimes on the Mainland they don't give Hawai'i credit, so we're excited to represent Hawai'i. I'm glad it's us."

A travel party of about 200 2 including the football and girls volleyball teams, coaches, trainers, cheerleaders, band members, administrators, parents and family members 2 departed Hono lulu on Wednesday afternoon.

After a morning practice yesterday, the Punahou football players enjoyed a barbeque with Eastlake. Today the Buffanblu are scheduled to have a walk-through at Qwest Field, followed by a campus tour of the University of Washington.

Punahou coach Kale Ane was hoping to have Washington coach Ty Willingham 2 a former teammate at Michigan State 2 speak to the Buffanblu.

"It's a great opportunity for us to experience new things," Ane said. "It's also a great responsibility, to represent Hawai'i."

Tomorrow's game will be the season opener for Eastlake, which competes in the Seattle area's King County 4A (top classification) Conference.

The Wolves went 8-2 last season and lost their first-round playoff game, 34-28. Running backs coach David Hughes, a 1977 graduate of Kamehameha, is a former standout at Boise State and played six NFL seasons.

Ane said Eastlake operates out of the deceptive "Wing-T" formation, rarely seen in Hawai'i.

"On film, they look physical and run their offense well," Ane said. "They've had all summer to prepare for us, so we'll see where we stand."

On Sunday, Punahou plans to host a lu'au, inviting alumni and friends in the Northwest. The last time a Buffanblu football team played on the Mainland was 1973, at Orem, Utah.

NARBONNE AT KAHUKU

Defending state champion and No. 2-ranked Kahuku (1-1) plays host to Narbonne (Harbor City, Calif.) tonight at 7.

Narbonne (0-0) plays in the California Interscholastic Federation's competitive Los Angeles City Section 2 Marine League, against such notable programs as Banning (Wilmington) and Carson.

FARRINGTON AT KAMEHAMEHA

Two of Hawai'i's traditional powerhouses will clash tomorrow in interleague action when Farrington visits Kamehameha at about 6:15 p.m.

Both teams are 2-0 and tied for No. 4 in The Advertiser poll.

Reach Wes Nakama at wnakama@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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