Before joining Saturday’s homecoming festivities, the Farrington football team received a lesson in fun from a volleyball legend.
While the Skippa Diaz Stadium stands filled for the school’s first on-campus homecoming/senior night, former University of Hawaii volleyball coach Dave Shoji helped prepare the Governors in the locker room below as their pregame speaker.
“It was such an asset to have him there to share his wisdom with the boys,” said Farrington coach Randall Okimoto, who attends Metro Christian Church along with Shoji.
“He explained what fun is. … I think the kids understood and that’s the reason we started so well. Basically, fun was execution. Fun wasn’t playing around, it was execution. That’s fun.”
The Governors then delivered a sharp start in breaking out to a 16-point lead on their way to a 53-16 win over Castle in their final regular-season home game.
After forcing a three-and-out to open the game, Farrington put together a nine-play drive with running back Samsen Tanuvasa picking up 20 yards on four carries and scoring on a 4-yard run.
Castle’s next possession resulted in a loss of 6 yards and Governors quarterback Chris Afe led a seven-play march capped by a 32-yard touchdown pass to Chad Silva.
Farrington lined up to kick the extra point after both scores but instead excuted 2-point conversions, first on a pass from Stephen Eter to defensive lineman Foi Sila then on a run by defensive back Tymon Paleafei.
Castle closed to 16-10 in the second quarter, but Farrington scored on their first three possessions of the second half and Paleafei returned an interception 28-yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter in the Governor’s highest scoring performance of the season.
Tanuvasa, who entered the game with 110 yards on 15 carries this season, finished the night with 161 yards on 18 attempts. Afe balanced the offense by passing for 214 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 52 yards and a score.
Afe had shared time with Eter at quarterback most of the season and passed for 186 yards and one touchdown prior to Saturday’s game. He had full-time duties against Castle and completed 15 of 25 throws while connecting with Eter six times for 103 yards and a touchdown.
“We’ve been working on that a lot, knowing a lot of teams know us for running,” Afe said. “So Coach Okimoto, he’d like to mix it up knowing we have two quarterbacks who can throw and run.”
Farrington (4-3, 4-2 OIA Red) takes on Leilehua (5-2, 4-2) on Friday with second place in the division and a first-round bye in the league playoffs at stake. Okimoto said developing balance will be a key heading into the postseason after the Governors racked up 229 rushing yards and 214 passing while the defense held Castle to 135 total yards.
“We gotta have that (balance) against the elite teams to be able to keep them on their heels,” Okimoto said.
Finally having a home field on which to celebrate homecoming was also among the payoffs for Farrington, which received a $10,000 donation from Kaiser Permanente in a pregame presentation.
“To see the support and all the people come back home, awesome, that’s what it’s all about,” Okimoto said, nodding toward the still crowded stands.
“This is why we needed to have a stadium like this. Just look at it. … The future looks bright.”
Castle’s hopes of securing the bye ended with the loss and it closed the regular season at 3-5 and 3-4 in OIA play. After the game, first-year coach John Hao succinctly summed up the difference after the Knights’ third straight loss.
“Executing,” he said before heading back to Kaneohe. “We get so far down there and lose it. We have to learn how to finish.”