Star-Advertiser Preseason Top 10 Countdown
Today: No. 9 Kailua
Coming off of a breakout season that earned Kailua defensive end Christian Mejia both first-team All-State honors and the attention of college coaches, the recruiting process remains a secondary concern while he prepares for his senior season.
In a break during practice on Monday, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Mejia said the prospect of picking his next destination over the coming months is “not on my mind at all. Right now I’m just focusing on this year and taking one step at a time.”
Other than confirming that Mejia has six Division I offers, including Hawaii, Kailua coach Joseph Wong remained mindful of the low-key approach to recruiting Mejia and his family prefer.
“That’s just between me, Christian and the family,” Wong said of Mejia’s other offers. “They kind of like to keep it under wraps.”
While keeping his focus on the present, Mejia went through his offseason training with an eye on preparing for college.
“He’s added on some weight, strength, you can tell the development of his body,” Wong said. “Give him a full year in a Division I program … you can see his frame, he‘ll have muscle coming out of his ears.”
For the moment, Mejia is working on a follow-up to a junior season highlighted by 15 sacks in Kailua’s turnaround from an 0-7 2014 season to 7-3 last fall. He is again projected for double-duty at defensive end and as a tight end in certain packages on offense.
“He accepts that challenge,” Wong said. “He knows all the plays on offense so why not use him.”
Mejia has also taken on the challenge of taking on a more vocal presence as a senior, providing leadership cultivated through both the struggles of 2014 and last year’s resurgence.
“There were some leaders last year and this is his team,” Wong said. “He’s a great leader and one that everyone can look up to on and off the field.”
Along with praising the efforts of those who tasted last year’s success, Wong is sure to keep them hungry heading into this season. He cited a game in which Mejia had four sacks and “I said when I counted on the film it looked liked you could have had eight.”
“I challenge each and every one of them,” Wong said. “If you score three touchdowns, I might expect the fourth one from you. That’s my way to keep them humble, focused and with their eyes on the prize.”
Kailua has scrimmages with Radford and Saint Louis scheduled this week before opening the season with a nonconference game at Aiea on Aug. 5. They begin OIA Red play the following week against Moanalua.