First, some summaries about quarterbacks. They’re in no particular order. Then my QB rankings are at the end.
Note: Statistics as of Oct. 12.
Punahou, 6-3, 205, Sr.
2013 to date (after eight games)
• 89-157-3, 1,558 yards, 16 TD
• Completion rate: .567
• Yards per attempt: 9.92
• QB rating: 169.85
• Skinny: I went into depth and length about “Tui” in an earlier post this week, which you can read here. Short version: This year’s stats don’t tell the whole story about his evolution. He had to grow with his team’s new — or reinvented — offense. The result is an 8-0 record.
Kaiser, 5-9, 172, Sr.
2013 to date (seven games — two other games were forfeits)
• 70-104-3, 1,113 yards, 8 TD
• Completion rate: .673
• Yards per attempt: 10.7
• QB rating: 176.82
• Skinny: After producing humongous numbers at Konawaena last season, Karratti has emerged as a slightly different type of quarterback at Kaiser. His completion rate is vastly different: 67 percent at Kaiser, 51 percent at Konawaena. At his current rate, he will finish the season with roughly half as many pass attempts and yards. He won’t come close to last year’s 41 touchdown passes. But he has been efficient and his team is unbeaten in D-II play.
Mililani, 5-10, 150, So.
• 75-121-2, 983 yards, 9 TD
• Completion rate: .620
• Yards per attempt: 8.12
• QB rating: 151.46
• Skinny: When I saw him fling a pass into the middle of coverage in the end zone near the end of the first half against Campbell, I thought, well, he’s a first-year starter. When that pass was intercepted and returned 100 yards for a touchdown to put Campbell ahead 21-7 at the half, I thought, well, he’s a sophomore. There will be more pick-sixes to come. But in actuality, Milton has thrown just two interceptions all season. His fleet feet do more than buy him time. He has scored a touchdown by ground in each of the last three games. His acceleration is exceptional enough that he would make a pretty solid starting running back at any D-I school. But he’s at his best when the situation requires quick feet and quick thinking.
Mililani, 6-3, 180, Sr.
• 47-86-2, 488 yards, 5 TD
• Completion rate: .547
• Yards per attempt: 5.67
• QB rating: 116.85
• Skinny: The transfer from Saint Louis was in a battle for the starting job early in the season. Now, he’s a quality backup QB to Milton. He went through a five-game stretch where he attempted five passes while Milton got on-the-job experience. Watching Faleafine, the raw talent is clearly there. The lack of game reps, though, was also obvious. The biggest difference between Milton and Faleafine is Milton’s ability to read and gauge a situation, and then use his feet to make the most of it. Faleafine may never get another chance to show his stuff at Mililani — he was 19-for-38 with four TDs and 231 yards (and one pick) in a start against Aiea two weeks ago — but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him blossom in college.
Austin Jim On
‘Iolani, 5-9, 143, Jr.
• 92-143-6, 1,150 yards, 11 TD
• Completion rate: .643
• Yards per attempt: 8.04
• QB rating: 148.88
‘Iolani, 6-1, 187, Sr.
• 74-133-2, 784 yards, 6 TD
• Completion rate: .556
• Yards per attempt: 5.89
• QB rating: 117.03
(* Note: Statistics for Jim On and Tsubata corrected 10/25/13.)
• Skinny: This is a double skinny on Jim On and Tsubata. It’s become a bit more clear that Jim On is the better executor of gameplans, not necessarily obvious through numbers. Jim On releases the ball earlier, more quickly — I can’t prove this without going through every snap of every ‘Iolani game video I possess. But that’s my take. Tsubata has run for a bit more yardage (54 yards, one TD, 25 carries) than Jim On (12 carries, -3 yards) and is less likely to throw a pick.
The Raiders have not placed the keys to the bus in either QB’s hands. They prefer to let the ground game set the tone, but with top RB Jordan Ross in and out of the lineup (ankle), it’s not an easy read. Suffice to say, if one QB goes down, the other is quite capable of taking the wheel. This is a good problem for any team to have.
Kahuku, 6-3, 223, Jr.
• 51-99-4, 851 yards, 11 TD
• Completion rate: .515
• Yards per attempt: 8.6
• QB rating: 152.31
• Skinny: Ups and downs, that’s been young Tuli’s story as a first-year QB. The ups? When he’s running the option out of that I set, he’s imposing as hell. A year ago, he was a tight end. Now he’s making snap decisions on the fly when that option is in operation. Most of the time, though, he’s asked to hand off to a committee of running backs and some of the time, he’s asked to make a play-action pass. But he’s not just a handoff machine.
In his last three games, he’s thrown the ball 14, 17 and 18 times. Last year’s QB, Viliami “Lasi” Livai, threw the ball more than 13 times just once all season. Granted, Livai had all-state offensive player of the year Aofaga Wily to rely on. But Wily-Matagi shows good potential. He’s already throwing at a higher YPA and passer rating than Livai did as a senior.
Livai quarterbacked his team to a state championship, though, so time will certainly tell.
Damien, 5-10, 165, Sr.
• 88-190-12, 1,039 yards, 8 TD
• Completion rate: .463
• Yards per attempt: 5.47
• QB rating: 93.51
• Skinny: Athletic, gritty, gutsy. Watching Choy makes you want to cheer for him, even as his surrounding personnel is somewhat limited.
It makes me wonder, if he was a fourth grader and had gotten tutelage from an elite QB coach like Vince Passas, what then? Then I wonder, maybe he’s at a Division II program for a reason. Many reasons. And maybe one is that Damien is destined to pull an upset one of these years. Maybe Choy is the one who will be at QB when that happens.
Moanalua, 5-7, 170, Sr.
• 231-406-16, 2,695 yards, 25 TD
• Completion rate: .569
• Yards per attempt: 6.64
• QB rating: 125.09
• Skinny: Initially, it’s almost instant. Any QB in a version of the run-and-shoot, a.k.a. four-wide formation, has certain standards to play up to. Maybe it’s all these years of seeing it at the prep and college levels. Maybe it’s knowing that any run-and-shoot will likely stumble when the QB completes passes at a rate below 65 percent. Maybe it’s just asking too much of any 17-year-old kid to operate an offense this complex.
But these are just kids, and as we’ve seen at a multitude of high schools, there is failure one night and success the next. For players in this system, it’s about reads. Timing. Trust.
No other program asked as much of a QB as Moanalua did of Kaneshiro this season. He obliged, of course, and the play-calling was like nothing I’ve seen before: a 6-to-1 pass-run ratio. In a balanced offense, anything 7 yards and above is adequate. In something like this, when the defense knows the ball is going in the air, 6.64 is pretty darn good. Wouldn’t you take 6.6 yards on every snap (by average)?
This is how tough it is to average 6 yards per attempt when a team is throwing the ball 40 times a game: Jarin Morikawa of Mililani, one of last year’s prolific passers, averaged 6.73 YPA. He completed 57 percent of his attempts and finished with a QBR of 131.35. He had 36 TD passes and 13 picks, 3,583 yards in 532 attempts.
Kaneshiro finished with 406 attempts in nine games — 45.1 tries per game. In other words, if Kaneshiro had played four more games, he was on pace to finish with, yes, 36 TDs. I’m not saying Kaneshiro is better or worse than Morikawa. My point is this: in an offense where everything depends on a QB, he did quite well. Records are one thing. But winning games and helping his team stay in games against tough competition — 38 points on Farrington — are tests he passed easily.
Saint Louis, 6-1, 225, Jr.
• 106-159-4, 1,720 yards, 22 TD
• Completion rate: .667
• Yards per attempt: 10.8
• QB rating: 198.16
• Skinny: After a promising sophomore year full of part-time work, Kuhns has been often brilliant as a junior. The shortened ILH regular season is a bummer, though. We really get to see Kuhns and Saint Louis’ extraordinary run-and-shoot offense tested when they play the league’s other D-I teams, and there will be only of those games, and one to two in the newly-formed playoffs.
The reason I bring this to light is simple. Kuhns still isn’t a completely seasoned starting QB, but the more he plays in these elite-level games, the better he will get. Case in point: Kamehameha rocked him good in their game six weeks ago. Early and late hits took a toll and he struggled in the fourth quarter. But he matured, got better and showed it in a big battle with Punahou two weeks ago: 22-for-38, four TDs, no picks.
Normally, there would be a guarantee of rematches with both teams. This isn’t normal anymore with this playoff format. And if Saint Louis doesn’t qualify for the state tourney, then we may see Kuhns get tested only one more time. That just doesn’t seem fair or right for a prodigious talent like him.
Sunday addition: As of last night, Kuhns’ season is over. It was a bittersweet finish for the junior. His two picks involved defenders at the line of scrimmage, which says more about the unique height of Kamehameha’s front seven than anything. His final pass on Saint Louis’ last-minute drive (down 34-28) was tipped and then picked off on an eye-popping dive by Warriors DB Dylan Kane. Against almost any other team, those two picks are incompletions at worst and completions at best.
A final note: A great defense like Kamehameha’s will test a first-year (full-time) starting QB. At times, Kuhns was magical, directing drives that made the Warriors look mediocre. Other times, not so easy. I think as a senior next year, he’ll be better for all these ups and downs. That’s what experience does for a young QB.
(Correction 10/22/13: Kuhns is a junior.)
Radford, 6-4, 210, Sr.
• 143-254-7, 2,539 yards, 32 TD
• Completion rate: .563
• Yards per attempt: 10.0
• QB rating: 176.33
• Skinny: It’s been feast or famine for the talented southpaw. In every win aside from a short stint against Anuenue (blowout game), he has passed for at least 288 yards. Five times, he’s thrown for more than 300 yards and at least four touchdowns. But in losses to Kaiser and Pearl City, he threw a combined five interceptions and 325 yards. He’s got more offensive weapons at his disposal than any other QB in Division II, arguably. But, as I mentioned about passers in four-wide (and three-wide) sets earlier, any completion percentage below 65 percent will lead to problems.
In Lui-Yuen’s case, connecting is a huge deal. Among D-II quarterbacks on Oahu, only Kalani’s Noah Brum goes airborne for as many big plays. But Lui-Yuen’s legacy will come down to making the little plays, too.
Sunday note: His season came to an end on Friday in a lopsided loss to Kaiser. He didn’t have Jameson Pasigan, his most experienced receiver, and combo RB Tobias Powell available due to injuries. I don’t think Kaiser was going to lose anyway, but it would’ve been interesting to see what CLY would’ve done with his full arsenal.
Kapolei, 5-10, 160, Sr.
• 59-126-5, 714 yards, 7 TD
• Completion rate: .468
• Yards per attempt: 5.67
• QB rating: 104.82
• Skinny: There are about three or four QBs with very similar stats right now. Kahana’s numbers match up closely with Waianae’s Kekoa Kaluhiokalani and, to a lesser extent, Kamehameha’s Noah Sua-Godinet and Farrington’s Montana Liana. Kahana has rushed for 332 yards and two TDs on 87 carries.
Waianae, 6-1, 190, Sr.
• 53-125-6, 897 yards, 9 TD
• Completion rate: .424
• Yards per attempt: 7.18
• QB rating: 116.84
• Skinny: He’s at his best when fullback Mahvan Tau is doing damage up the middle, which opens up the option game for the speedy quarterback. He has rushed for 423 yards and five TDs on 104 carries.
• 65-122-6, 760 yards, 7 TD
• Completion rate: .533
• Yards per attempt: 6.23
• QB rating: 114.7
• Skinny: He’s done well considering he was a wide receiver before this year. I just wonder how tough he’d be if they ran the option. He’s a burner. He has rushed for 164 yards and three touchdowns (35 carries).
Sunday note: He had his finest game of the season on Saturday, the key to Kamehameha’s 34-28 win over Saint Louis. Saint Louis did all it could to bottle up Kamehameha’s ground attack, and Sua-Godinet hit his receivers in solo coverage with regularity. A running game that strong — this might be the finest offensive line in the state — makes life easier for any QB. But what’s cool to see is that he’s starting to make those precision passes deep. That’s the difference between no big plays downfield and scoring 14 to 21 points, and hitting four to five big passes deep and scoring 35 or more. And he did it against a solid Saint Louis secondary.
Farrington, 6-1, 210, Jr.
• 53-121-3, 707 yards, 2 TD
• Completion rate: .426
• Yards per attempt: 6.47
• QB rating: 93.03
• Skinny: On paper, he was stronger last year. His completion rate, touchdowns and QB rating are down. But the most important number for a QB in Farrington’s West Coast offense is interceptions, and he’s thrown just three — and none in his last three games. Add to that his clutch play despite a mid-season knee procedure, and the Govs have gone unbeaten in OIA Red East play.
Leilehua, 6-1, 185, Sr.
• 89-164-7, 1,082 yards, 9 TD
• Completion rate: .543
• Yards per attempt: 6.6
• QB rating: 119.26
Leilehua, 5-9, 170, Jr.
• 31-51-4, 323 yards, 5 TD
• Completion rate: .608
• Yards per attempt: 6.3
• QB rating: 130.65
Leilehua, 5-7, 155, Sr.
• 24-37-0, 449 yards, 7 TD
• Completion rate: .649
• Yards per attempt: 12.14
• QB rating: 229.23
• Skinny: The eye test reveals that Pauole and Eberhardt are playmakers with their feet, able to scramble for big yardage. But going back to last year, Jenks is consistent and accurate. Though he’s not a big play guy, he takes care of the ball. He’s thrown for five TDs and no picks in Leilehua’s last two games, and coincidentally (or not), they’ve scored 120 points and won both contests, including last week’s playoff win at Moanalua. Eberhardt started for most of the season with Pauole and Jenks getting a few snaps. That changed before the Waipahu game.
Strictly looking at the numbers, Jenks had a QBR in 2012 of 122.85, which would be right about where Eberhardt and Pauole are this year. Both are in their first year in the (varsity) system. Could it be that Jenks has simply stepped up this year because of his heavy experience last year? In ’12, he was 181-for-287 with 15 TD and seven INT. Accurate (63 percent), but more ball control than deep ball (5.64 YPA). He’s played in four games this year and the sample size (53 pass attempts) might seem too small, but the hot hand clearly belongs to ol’ faithful, Mr. Jenks.
Sunday note: Mililani shut Jenks and the Mules down on Saturday night. After scoring 120 points in his two previous starts, the Leilehua offense went scoreless against a stout Trojans defensive unit. Jenks did what he could, but the Mules just couldn’t sustain a drive. Still, props to Jenks for a nice late-season run.
Campbell, 6-1, 195, Sr.
• 115-205-7, 1,656 yards, 17 TD
• Completion rate: .561
• Yards per attempt: 8.08
• QB rating: 144.49
• Skinny: His best asset as a passer is arm strength. In the pocket, he doesn’t hesitate to tuck it and go, and that makes him a bear to bring down: 355 rushing yards, five TDs. More than anything, though, Hurd has been consistent as a senior. He has thrown more than one pick in a game just one time, against Leilehua, and that was a game Campbell had a good shot at winning despite his three interceptions (and 251 yards, two TDs). In all, he has run with the ball 94 times this season, which might be tops in the state among QBs. If the Sabers ever decide to go with a ground-and-pound strategy for one night, they’ve got the right man at the position.
Kailua, 6-3, 191, So.
• 128-272-9, 1,415 yards, 10 TD
• Completion rate: .471
• Yards per attempt: 5.2
• QB rating: 96.27
• Skinny: Frankly, I don’t know how Auld avoided serious injury this season. When I saw him play, he was basically on a bicycle all game long, scrambling, buying time and somehow finding open receivers sometimes. The good news is that when he has time, he’s effective. Also, his top receiver, Koolauloa Gaspar, is also just a sophomore. Another promising receiver, Christian-Taylor Scheer, is also a 10th grader.
Nanakuli, 5-10, 160, Sr.
• 34-71-4, 464 yards, 6 TD
• Completion rate: .479
• Yards per attempt: 6.53
• QB rating: 119.4
• Skinny: His time under center (or in the pistol) was limited this season as the Golden Hawks put him to work as a running back, in addition to his full-time job at safety. He rushed for 677 yards (8 yards per carry) and seven TDs. He is simply a football player and a tremendous one at any position.
• 171-315-9, 2,618 yards, 36 TD
• Completion rate: .543
• Yards per attempt: 8.31
• QB rating: 156.1
• Skinny: The most interesting thing about Brum — rhymes with drum — this season is that no defense has completely shut him down. (He threw for three touchdowns against Kaiser in a blowout loss, something no Cougars opponent has done.) Brum doesn’t lose his poise whether the Falcons are up by four touchdowns or down by four touchdowns. The eye-popping game-by-game numbers are ridonkulous, but QB coach Harold Peralta says if not for all the drops, Brum’s completion rate would be above 80 percent. Whatever the case, Brum is in tune with his receivers as well as any QB I’ve seen this season. The competition level is not exactly elite, but Brum’s understanding of his arsenal and his even-keeled approach are big pluses.
Pac-Five, 5-7, 150, Sr.
• 117-241-12, 1,107 yards, 9 TD
• Completion rate: .485
• Yards per attempt: 4.59
• QB rating: 89.5
• Skinny: It’s playoff week and Canencia’s first year as a starter — and last since he’s a senior — is coming to a close. It couldn’t be close enough to being over for University High basketball coach Walt Quitan, who is praying that his starting point guard makes it through without ending the season with another injury, which happened of two of the past three years. Canencia as a QB shows promise, but the years lost to injury show, and it hasn’t helped that half the teams on the schedule are Top 10 caliber. When he gets time and protection in the pocket, he’s and his receivers are fairly proficient.
Konawaena, 5-9, 155, Sr.
• 137-268-11, 2,490 yards, 24 TD
• Completion rate: .511
• Yards per attempt: 9.29
• QB rating: 150.51
• Skinny: The Wildcats are still flinging that ol’ pigskin all over the field even after the departure of Karratti (to Kaiser). Howes, who transferred from KS-Hawaii, has been almost as prolific as his predecessor. Take a look at Karratti’s statistics as a Wildcat (last year) and compare: 136-for-266, 41 TD, 7 INT, 11.02 YPA, QBR 189.29. Oh, and one last stat: Karratti completed 51.1 percent of his passes last year, which is THE SAME EXACT PERCENTAGE as Howes. It should be noted that Konawaena has played all of the BIIF’s Division I teams this year due to the league’s change in scheduling format, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Howes had a tougher slate. The BIIF’s D-I teams are down this season, from Kealakehe to Waiakea to Keaau. But Howes has not played against Ka‘u and Kohala, teams that folded this fall. Karratti saw limited action in three games against those teams.
Ultimately, a highly interesting matchup in the state tourney would be Kaiser against Konawaena.
Sione (Makoa) Filikitonga
Lahainaluna, 5-10, 170, Jr.
• 23-62-4, 364 yards, 2 TD
• Completion rate: .371
• Yards per attempt: 5.87
• QB rating: 84.15
• Skinny: Look at his passing stats and then watch the Lunas operate that slick, unpredictable modified wing-T offense. Filikitonga’s effectiveness has more to do with his ability to direct traffic with precision than any numbers. He has rushed for a team-high 720 yards (and eight TDs), and his deception as the trickster in the middle of that misdirection offense has helped two teammates rack up at least 600 yards on the ground.
The thing with old-school offenses like this is, there is no superstar. Everything is predicated on what the defense gives, so any defense that gets greedy will be punished thusly. That’s what makes Filikitonga and his teammates so watchable. There is very little individual glory. It’s simply a machine that requires a master’s touch, and few could run this thing as well as this junior. Consideration here is not about mass production. It’s about his unique knowledge and skills converting into value. He may be the most valuable QB in the state.
Pupule’s Top 10 QBs 10/18/13
1. Larry Tuileta, Punahou. Good as his numbers are, his versatility has made Punahou’s offense into a far more unpredictable machine.
2. Isaac Hurd, Campbell. Basically uncontainable as the best combo passer/scrambler in the state.
3. Ryder Kuhns, Saint Louis. When he’s on, very few are as good.
4. Micah Kaneshiro, Moanalua. It will probably be awhile until anyone else throws for 25 TDs out of the OIA Red East. He did it without much of a rushing attack.
5. McKenzie Milton, Mililani. The completion rate (62 percent), YPA (8.1) and only two picks can’t be denied. Benefits greatly from a superb ground game, but he makes plays with his feet, too.
6. Noah Brum, Kalani. Consistent. Calm. Dedicated.
7. Cody Lui-Yuen, Radford. Definitely would be higher here if he had more consistency against the top defenses in D-II.
8. Brandon Howes, Konawaena. Massive numbers in the Wildcats’ aerial circus system.
9. Kahoali‘i Karratti, Kaiser. Limited usage as a passer, but he keeps winning.
10. Noah Sua-Godinet, Kamehameha. Before this weekend, he wasn’t on this list. But he showed a lot in the win over Saint Louis. He has really stepped up.
# # #
Finally, some recent history to reflect on
• 284-436-19, 3,090 yards, 41 TD
• Completion rate: .651
• Yards per attempt: 7.09
• QB rating: 146.99
• Skinny: First of all, anyone who throws the ball this much while maintaining a YPA above 7 yards is incredibly effective. The Mules really, rarely looked to run the ball during Sadanaga’s senior year, and he still hit targets at a 65-percent clip. That’s a magic number, basically, that few prep slingers come close to. It says a lot about his receivers; Edieson Dumlao was incredibly sticky-fingered, especially in traffic. But it says a lot about Sadanaga, who helped tutor his younger receivers even after they ran the wrong routes. That patience went a long way.
• 315-509-17, 3,665 yards, 31 TD
• Completion rate: .619
• Yards per attempt: 7.2
• QB rating: 135.79
• Skinny: Since Jarin Morikawa’s mammoth statistical carnival last year, I don’t think we’ll see anyone with 500-plus pass attempts for some time. I thought maybe Larry Tuileta would approach that this year, but he’s actually thrown much less overall. Micah Kaneshiro would’ve been on pace to pass 500 spirals if his team could have played another four games (meaning, reach the state final). Again, the whopping number of attempts while staying above 7 yards per attempt — astounding. Sometimes, a quarterback’s essence can’t be measured in numbers. Sometimes the stats are simply misleading. In this case, they almost due Manley justice. He was one of a kind.
Saint Louis (2010)
• 165-252-5, 2,597 yards, 32 TD
• Completion rate: .655
• Yards per attempt: 10.31
• QB rating: 189.98
• Skinny: If he had been asked to throw 500 times, would this year’s Heisman Trophy favorite (my opinion) have been as efficient? Possibly. But his speed and escapability were superior. No defense could really corral him. When his number was called on the read-option, nobody could really keep up with him. He ran a 50-yard TD on that play against Kahuku early in the game. Then they never called the play again, possibly to protect their first-year starting QB. It was a smart move. They went on to capture the state title. I don’t know if any other QB will have the kind of efficiency and consistency that Mariota had that year. It was magical. I should probably dust off those game videos and post them sometime.
• 305-532-13, 3,583 yards, 36 TD
• Completion rate: .573
• Yards per attempt: 6.73
• QB rating: 131.35
• Skinny: This was probably (I can almost guarantee this) the last time that Coach Rod York will let his offense go off the edge and be so heavily dependent on the passing game. York loves a balanced offense, but he’s also a run-first kind of coach who normally would prefer to have more rest time for his defense. But Morikawa and a good group of receivers convinced York otherwise, and the result was a run to the state semifinals. That 532 attempts could’ve been more if the Trojans had reached the title game. That’s 40.9 attempts per game.
We are in an age when coaches are less fearful and a little more willing to let talented passers air it out. There have been some remarkable slugfests this season between gifted slingers. Tuileta/Punahou against Kuhns/Saint Louis stands out. There will be more to come this postseason and next year and the year after that. But we’ve seen some truly unique performers in recent years. May the aerial fireworks continue forever.