Big stats, bigger learning curve for Sabers

Campbell's Tyrese Tafai ran for 108 yards and a touchdown in the Sabers' OIA Division I playoff win over Castle. Photo by Jamm Aquino/jaquino@staradvertiser.com

In the life of Randall Okimoto, there’s always the virtue of resourcefulness.

After all, with a young offense, inconsistent production and a tough regular-season opener on the road, his Farrington Governors found ways to stay close. It was enough grit by Farrington for his counterpart, new Campbell coach Darren Johnson, to wince just a bit despite a 26-20 victory on Friday night. It was Campbell’s first win over Farrington since 2001, ending an 11-game losing streak to the Governors.

“We made some sloppy mistakes. From day one, I came in, I’m not changing, but I have tough love. We made mistakes at the wrong time, so we’re going back to the drawing board,” said Johnson, who guided Kailua to an OIA co-championship in 2001, and led Kaimuki to an OIA D-II crown in ’07.

For Okimoto, who played for Bob Wagner at the University of Hawaii in the 1990s, it has usually been about running the ball, stingy defense and opportunistic special teams. Wagner’s mantra was directly influenced by Dick Tomey, who was head coach at UH when Wagner was the defensive coordinator.

Win two out of three phases — offense, defense and special teams — victory on the scoreboard is in reach. Tomey’s Rainbow Warriors knew it, and so did Wagner’s teams. Perhaps, also, these youthful Governors. Farrington got a key 73-yard kickoff return by defensive back Chasen Castilliano, a clutch 4-yard, fourth-down TD pass from Chris Afe to Stephen Eter, and a 59-yard interception return to the house by Wendell Elob to turn a 20-point deficit into a one-touchdown game by halftime.

The Sabers locked down defensively after the break for the win, but all the offensive numbers left Johnson with an itch that couldn’t be scratched. The numbers?

> 386 passing yards by first-year starter Krenston Kaipo. The school mark is 388 yards by Isaac Hurd, set against Hilo in 2013 during the state tournament.

> A school-record 204 receiving yards by sophomore Pokii Adkins-Kupukaa. In addition to his eight receptions, he also pulled down an interception on a deep pass. He broke Samson Anguay’s previous top mark of 172 yards, set in ’08.

For all of the statistics, it was turnovers — two interceptions thrown by Kaipo and a fumble by the Campbell ground attack — that helped the visiting Govs stay in the game.

Campbell racked up 331 yards of total offense. Farrington mustered 161 total yards, but had just one turnover. Two young teams, and one showed immense explosiveness while the other played as efficiently as possible to stay close.

For Farrington, eight penalties for 89 yards played a factor. But the kicking game was a plus. Blessing Umaga, playing linebacker and running back, also punted four times for an average of 39.3 yards, including a 58 yarder. His style, an end-over-end boot that carves the grass, is not easy to return. Campbell didn’t return any of his punts, and that’s something any old-school UH coach, player or fan can appreciate.

The offense? Replacing the likes of Challen Faamatau and the rest of the offensive weapons of last year isn’t a fair expectation, but between the improving quarterbacks — Afe, an agile 6-foot-1, 273-pound junior, and Eter, first-time slinger/receiver — and a receiving corps that’s still wet behind the ears — the Governors are developing one baby step at a time.

COMMENTS

  1. Pissed off August 12, 2017 11:18 am

    As long as Randell OKIMOTO an Tanak are still at farrington the governors will never win a state title


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