Two weeks ago, the rich got richer.
Kapolei head coach Darren Hernandez, who led his team to a program-best 10-3 record and a spot in the semifinals of the state tournament in the Open Division last year, already felt great about his defense.
Six returning starters hold at least one Division I scholarship offer, and despite losing standouts Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, Leonard Lee and Omar Mareko to graduation, the Kapolei defense has a chance on paper to be even better this year.
That’s the main reason voters selected the Hurricanes No. 6 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser preseason top 10.
They might have picked Kapolei even higher if they knew about the phone call Hernandez received that as he put it, “was like Christmas in July.”
Linebacker Dylan Toilolo, who was named to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State first team as a junior last year at Saint Louis, was transferring to Kapolei. Because players who transfer from the ILH to the OIA don’t have to sit out a year, Toilolo will immediately be able to start for the Hurricanes in their season opener Friday at Campbell.
“We never dreamed we would have a chance to get a kid like Dylan Toilolo,” Hernandez said.
Toilolo, who is 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, will move to strong safety. Not only does it fill a bigger need on the Kapolei defense, but it will allow Toilolo to hopefully get more looks from Division I schools since his size fits more of a safety prospect than a linebacker.
“I feel like (changing positions) will help me get a scholarship, which is my goal,” Toilolo said.
Toilolo admits it’s been tough leaving “my brothers” at Saint Louis. After spending a week practicing with his new teammates at Kapolei, he immediately came away impressed with what the Hurricanes have on that side of the ball.
“I think Kapolei and Saint Louis have the two best defenses (in the state),” Toilolo said.
Kapolei will attempt to build off a 10-win season last year as it tries to put itself into the championship picture in Division I.
The Hurricanes have never played in an OIA Division I title game or the Division I state tournament. They made the 2003 OIA Division II final losing to Aiea and advanced to the semifinals of the OIA tourney in D-I after beating Kahuku on the North Shore in the quarterfinals in 2007.
“I love the high expectations,” Hernandez said. “Nobody rises to low expectations so I want that.”
For the full Kapolei season preview that ran in today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser, click here.