OIA D-I First Round
The matchup: Radford (1-7) vs. Farrington (4-4)
Location/Time: Farrington, Saturday, 6:30 p.m.
Head-to-head (since 1973): Tied 3-3
Last meeting: Farrington 35, Radford 13, Aug. 30, 2002. Matt Bell (Far) 23 carries, 180 yards, 3 TD; 6 rec, 70 yards, TD.
The numbers are just numbers.
At Radford, 1-7 may be the football team’s win-loss mark, but they don’t reflect the sea change made in the second year of Coach Lon Passos. The Rams have a yeoman’s task ahead on Saturday as they visit the Farrington Governors, who will host their first playoff game on campus.
Farrington has come a ways since those early preseason battles, trying to figure out who would do what in the post-Challen Fa‘amatau, post-Kingston Moses-Sanchez era. Defense and special teams did most of the heavy lifting early in the season, and to a large extent, it’s still about those two phases for Coach Randall Okimoto’s team.
Each week, however, the Govs show a glimpse of what can be. Chris Afe, all 6-foot-1 and 273 pounds of him, has good accuracy on the short and intermediate passes asked of him, and also has arm strength matched by few downfield. Stephen Eter again showed incredible agility and elusiveness, leaving Leilehua defenders in his trail in the final minutes of last week’s blowout loss to the Mules.
Of course, the rub is that Farrington was scarcely in the game, losing 33-6 on the road. At times, the Govs’ youth and inexperience surface. They committed nine penalties in the first half at Hugh Yoshida Stadium, and though the lost yardage (51) doesn’t seem like much, those constant miscues stunted any potential momentum. Farrington finished with with 14 flags for 88 yards.
At the end of this dark tunnel: Farrington hasn’t played its best game yet. The pieces are there. The defense, which is sometimes elite with run stoppers (Fo‘i Sula, Blessing Umaga) and pass rushers (Cameron Faletufuga), has one of the top defensive players in the state with versatile Chasen Castilliano roving the secondary.
This is where Radford’s much-improved offense will have its toughest task. But first, a year-over-year comparison of these resilient Rams.
> QB Randy Wright
2016: Seven games, 36-for-136, no TD passes, 14 INT, 257 yards. Completion rate 26.5 percent. Passer rating: 21.76
2017: Six games, 54-130, 10 TDs, 9 INT, 786 yards. Completion rate: 41.5 percent. Passer rating: 102.70.
Most improved player in the OIA? Possibly. Whatever Wright and his coaches did in the offseason, don’t stop. WOW.
> RB Iovani Alatini Jr.
2016: Three games, 10 carries, 14 yards, no TDs.
2017: Six games, 85 carries, 398 yards, four TDs.
That’s 4.7 yards per rushing attempt in DIVISION I. There’s a case to be made that a smaller school like Radford should be in D-II, and there’s no question that Wright, Alatini and the rest of the Rams would find much more success there. But nearly 5 yards per carry in OIA D-I is something the O-line and Alatini can always be proud of.
> WR Cameron Copeland
2016: Seven games, 15 receptions, 184 yards, no TDs.
2017: Five games, 14 receptions, 249 yards, five TDs.
When I saw Copeland last year, before he even made his first catch, he passed the eye test. Tall (6-2, 175), good hands, just in need of a passing attack that could put it together. The Rams aren’t a pass-first unit, but the way they can utilize his length in the red zone is a major plus. He has major upside, the kind that has me blurting this into cyberspace: if Copeland were in Mililani’s offense, he would have at least 25 receptions for 400-plus yards and six to seven touchdowns. If this sounds mediocre, it is not. Mililani has five receivers with at least 10 receptions, and the catch leader (Ryan Chang) has 25 hauls for 505 yards and eight TDs.
In today’s world of route trees and progressions, few teams lock in on a single, big-play pass catcher. But let’s say Copeland was the deep-route runner for a more traditional offense like, hmm… Kahuku 2001 with Inoke Funaki at QB and Coach Siuaki Livai implementing four-wide packages imported from the UH coaching staff. In that scenario, Copeland nabs maybe 25 receptions for the entire season, but averages 21 yards per catch and finishes with eight TD grabs. Mulivai Pula at tailback draws eight in the box, and Funaki heaves corner and post passes to Copeland in 1-on-1 coverage against 5-6 cornerbacks all season long.
If, if, if…
Radford has come a long way, and numbers don’t always tell the whole story. They can tell us, however, about startling changes, and now, the Rams get their chance to surprise an entire league.
Farrington has won the last three meetings with Radford. The Rams last beat the Governors on Aug. 31, 1984, a 7-6 game at Aloha Stadium.
Top performances in series
Farrington passing vs. Radford: Raymond Haynes with 131 yards in 1973
Farrington rushing vs. Radford: Matt Bell with 180 yards in 2002
Farrington receiving vs. Radford: Robert Souza with 112 yards in 1973
Radford passing vs. Farrington: Stephen Baughn with 145 yards in 2002
Radford rushing vs. Farrington: Armand Kalani with 103 yards in 1980
Radford receiving vs. Farrington: Samuela Manoa with 65 yards in 2002
Radford’s offensive statistics
Updated: Oct. 9, 2017
(Missing stats from Centennial game)
Farrington’s offensive statistics