Adding Machine: Running Backs (Sept 27)

Anuenue RB Kainalu Kaleo (photo: Paul Honda)

Numbers are facts? Numbers are lies?

For the most part, numbers are numbers. A team that relies almost exclusively on running the football won’t necessarily rack up two or three players with big stats. It doesn’t work that way. No more than a team with intentions of passing the ball exclusively is guaranteed to have a 3,000-yard passer.

Yet, somehow, some way, Farrington is not the only team on its way to having a pair of 1,000-yard rushers. The fact that Anuenue, with its miniscule enrollment, no true home field and without even a junior varsity team, continues to compete at the varsity level. And, yes, they have two rushers with enormous production.

Whether both rushers reach that 1,000-yard mark — one has and the other is nearly 300 yards away with two games left — remains to be seen.

Here are stats of a bunch of the state’s top running backs, no particular order.


Anuenue RB Kainalu Kaleo (photo: Paul Honda)

Kainalu Kaleo, Anuenue
101 attempts, 1,248 yards
13 TD
12.36 yards per carry
178.3 yards per game
The skinny: If you have not seen Anuenue perform this season, make it a point to do so. The way Kaleo and his teammates — all 20-something of them — take a hit, and then another and another and keep getting up, well … it’s almost not of earth. Kaleo is a prime example. After getting beat down to “only” 84 yards against Kaiser, he kept getting up despite getting decked and visited (by the trainer) at least three times. He has run for 389 yards and four touchdowns against Pearl City and Roosevelt since. And I don’t remember a 1,000-yard rusher at any level (D-I or D-II) averaging 12 yards per attempt. Not in 23 years.

Farrington RB Abraham Silva (photo: Paul Honda)

Abraham Silva, Farrington
106 attempts, 921 yards
11 TD
8.69 YPC
153.5 YPG
The skinny: A week of rest will only help Silva and his partner in the Govs’ backfield, Tyler Taumua. Since a 28-carry effort in the opener against Waianae, Silva has had only two games with more than 16 carries. Sharing the load is good for him over the long term. I haven’t seen a back hit the hole with as much speed, power and explosion since, uhh … Manu Lakalaka.

Anuenue RB Anuenue Tui (photo: Paul Honda)

Anuenue Tui, Anuenue
105 attempts, 712 yards
7 TD
6.78 YPC
101.71 YPG
Imagine that, being the second-leading rusher on your own team, but being one of the top backs in the state. While Kaleo blasts up the gut in Anuenue’s double-wing offense, Tui takes advantage of opportunities on the edge. He had a light load last week (15 carries, 63 yards) against Roosevelt, but scored a season-high three touchdowns.

Saint Louis RB Adam Noga (photo: Paul Honda)

Adam Noga, Saint Louis
79 attempts, 614 yards
8 TD
7.78 YPC
122.8 YPG
The skinny: Like Silva, Noga has astounding explosion once he hits the line of scrimmage, but what’s unique about both Noga and Silva is the way they continue to explode through the second level without losing field vision. Noga has a bunch of 50-yard-plus touchdown runs, even after sitting out last week against Damien (hamstring). The Crusaders missed him greatly against Punahou, when he left early with the injury. At that point, he already had 75 yards on just five carries, including a 65-yard jaunt.

Moanalua RB Ishmil Scott (photo: Paul Honda)

Ishmil Scott, Moanalua
77 attempts, 446 yards
3 TD
5.79 YPC
63.7 YPG
The skinny: In a run-first scheme, no question the 5-11, 198-pound junior has monster numbers. They haven’t needed to utilize him as a pass catcher yet (7 grabs, 45 yards), but with just 10.5 carries per game in the past four games, he’s got to be fresh as can be this late in the regular season.

Kahuku RB Aofaga Wily (photo: Paul Honda)

Aofaga Wily, Kahuku
89 attempts, 677 yards
13 TD
7.61 YPC
135.4 YPG
The skinny: It’s all about taking care of business for Big Red. Keeping key contributors healthy. Rested when possible. The result? Wily hasn’t come close to matching his season-opening 225-yard performance against then-No. 2 Punahou. He’s had more than 14 carries since then just once, and he had just 11 attempts in the win over Kaimuki last week. Add last week’s bye and Wily, who had surgery on an ankle in the offseason, should be at full strength for the showdown with Farrington on Saturday.

Kapolei RB Jacob Kukahiko (photo: Eli Kapu)

Jacob Kukahiko, Kapolei
58 attempts, 383 yards
5 TD
6.6 YPC
63.83 YPG
The skinny: Things sure have changed for the ‘Canes, and a look at Kukahiko’s output says it all. Against Waipahu (28-21 loss) and Waianae (17-2 win), he had 28 carries for 217 yards and two touchdowns. But in losses to Leilehua and Mililani since then — zero total points — he’s had 13 carries for 44 yards. It’s tough to gauge what’s going on with the new offense and Kukahiko’s role. Even before the two losses, his season-high for carries was just 16. But at 5-11 and 210 pounds, it’s surprising he doesn’t get more touches. Receptions? One for the entire season, in the opener against Pearl City. I’d love to see him get more carries and take the pressure off junior quarterback Alzon Kahana, but I suspect things are a little more complicated than anyone might imagine.

Damien RB Kyle Sato (photo: Paul Honda)

Kyle Sato, Damien
83 attempts, 456 yards
4 TD
5.49 YPC
76 YPG
The skinny: It’s been tough sledding for the Monarchs against the ILH’s elite programs, but Sato keeps plugging along. When he gets at least 20 carries, he has produced at least 100 yards (against Kalaheo, Pac-Five).

Faaolaina Teofilo, Kamehameha-Hawaii
The skinny: Stats on Teofilo are incomplete, but this much is certain — he had 586 rushing yards and three touchdowns as of the Warriors’ win over Hawaii Prep two weeks ago.

Kaiser RB/DB Kai Gonda (photo: Paul Honda)

Kai Gonda, Kaiser
69 attempts, 519 yards
6 TD
7.52 YPC
74.1 YPG
The skinny: In addition to his uncanny elusiveness out of the backfield (including a stint as a wildcat QB against Anuenue), he has 16 receptions for 205 yards. He is the only player in the state with at least one touchdown by rush, receiving, passing, fumble return, punt return and kickoff return. Oh … he also plays defensive back. Coach Rich Miano compares him to Kealoha Pilares. ‘Nuff said.


Farrington RB Tyler Taumua (photo: Paul Honda)

Tyler Taumua, Farrington
87 attempts, 568 yards
8 TD
6.53 YPC
113.5 YPG
The skinny: Since an early-season shoulder injury, Taumua has gradually returned to full strength with three consecutive 100-yard games. This might be a unique situation against Kahuku on Saturday. Taumua has lined up as a slotback this year, if occasionally, and gone in motion as a fly man for end-around sweeps. Just something to think about. Probably won’t happen on Saturday. Nah.

Willie Lynch, Kalaheo
45 attempts, 381 yards
7 TD
8.47 YPC
76.2 YPG
The skinny: Since an eye-opening 200-yard, four-touchdown game against Waialua, Lynch has come back to earth (94 yards against Radford, 34 against Pearl City). At 5-9, 180, he’s the power broker in Kalaheo’s backfield.

Punahou RB Ryan Tuiasoa (photo: Paul Honda)

Ryan Tuiasoa, Punahou
83 attempts, 422 yards
7 TD
5.08 YPC
70.3 YPG
The skinny: Whatever the Buffanblu ask him to do, he does well. Swing routes. Ground and pound. 26 carries. Three carries. His load has lightened up against D-II foes in the ILH, but he always steps up against the powerhouses: 26-146-2 against Kamehameha, 19-106-2 against Saint Louis. In those two crucial victories, he also had four of his five catches.

Cristian Johnston, Kalaheo
The skinny: Full stats unavailable (Damien and Waialua info missing), but like Lynch, Johnston (5-7, 145) got less work in the loss at Pearl City (5-24-0), a long way from his early success against Kaiser (22-141-1) and Nanakuli (14-102-1).

Waika Alapai, Kauai
The skinny: Recent stats (Waimea) are unavailable. Same with his stats against Waialua and Pac-Five, missing. But he was a beast against King Kekaulike (14-151-2) and Kapaa (22-131-1). He had just two carries in a matchup with Waimea last month for 80 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown. At 6-2, 235 pounds, he is the ultimate diamond in the rough, a superb natural athlete who has had a rough home life. After attending Kapaa off and on for three years, he’s found opportunity since transferring to Kauai. He is, as one longtime KIF observer told me, the best athlete in the league since Jordan Dizon.

John Kamoku, Konawaena
42 attempts, 467 yards
11 TD
11.12 YPC
77.83 YPG
The skinny: It’s almost bizarre what the 5-10, 175-pound speedster has done. Prone to nagging injuries, he breaks off touchdown runs regularly. I saw him do it as a Kealakehe quarterback a year ago, sprinting through Leilehua’s defense with seeming ease. And you know that’s a fast Mules defense. But with his 11 rushing touchdowns in just 42 carries, Kamoku also has three touchdowns in just four receptions (192 yards). That’s 14 touchdowns in 46 touches. That’s 6-pointer in every 3.3 touches.

Jarrin Young, Kailua
61 attempts, 467 yards
7 TD
7.66 YPC
116.8 YPG
The skinny: Apparently, he didn’t play in the win over Castle, but the stats are still impressive in just four games. It’s safe to say that Kailua’s late-season hopes rest heavily on Young’s legs.

Paul-Andrew Rhoden, Campbell
68 attempts, 324 yards
2 TD
4.76 YPC
64.8 YPG
The skinny: The 6-foot, 210-pound senior had his best performance of the season in the 35-34 overtime win over Leilehua — 18 carries, 108 yards, one touchdown. After pulling in 10 passes in the first three games, he’s got just one since.

Lennox Jones, Kealakehe
59 attempts, 489 yards
4 TD
8.29 YP
81.5 YPG
The skinny: The Waveriders went to Guiseppe Zapataolive and lightened the load on Jones and quarterback Jordan Cristobal in the win at Keaau. He had 33 yards on just six carries, ending his 100-yard streak at two games. I don’t have receiving stats on the Keaau game, but before that, he had 18 catches for 245 yards and a touchdown.


Anuenue RB Malaeloa Liua (photo: Paul Honda)

Malaeloa Liua, Anuenue
59 attempts, 276 yards
2 TD
4.74 YPC
44.6 YPG
The skinny: The week of rest should do wonders for Na Koa. Liua has been, normally, the third wheel of the Anuenue double-wing attack. His only 100-yard game came against Kalani (19-137-0), but he found his way into the end zone last week against Roosevelt (12-53).

Mana Kaahanui, Aiea
56 attempts, 313 yards
8 TD
5.59 YPC
52.2 YPG
The skinny: Since his 95-yard, two-touchdown effort in the win against Leilehua, Na Alii had given him the ball 16 times in the past two games for 78 yards. I thought he might emerge as a go-to back, but it’s somewhat like a committee situation.

Bobby Lum, Hawaii Prep
75 attempts, 532 yards
5 TD
7.09 YPC
106.4 YPG
The skinny: The 195-pound junior has been a bright spot for the rebuilding Ka Makani. He had 97 yards on 19 carries against Konawaena last week.

Pac-Five RB Keoni Tom-Millare (photo: Paul Honda)

Keoni Tom-Millare, Pac-Five
87 attempts, 356 yards
5 TD
4.09 YPC
59.33 YPG
The skinny: Against a list of Top 10 teams, Tom-Millare has had his share of success, but it’s the D-II foes he’s done best against, no surprise. Against ‘Iolani: 150 rushing yards. Against Damien: 158 total yards, four touchdowns.

Waianae RB Jeremy Willes (photo: Paul Honda)
Waianae RB Alakai Kealoha (photo: Paul Honda)

Jeremy Willes, Waianae
Alakai Kealoha, Waianae
The skinny: Since Waianae’s return to run-heavy offense, they’ve won three games in a row. Wiles (5-8, 160) has 271 yards and 5 touchdowns, and Kealoha (5-11, 200) has 258 yards and two touchdowns. The turnaround came in the nick of time; the Seariders began OIA Red West play 0-2, but are now 3-2.

That’s it for this week with RB stats. There are a lot of backs who have turned in good performances in the past two weeks; I’ll post most (or all) of them in the Top Players update later this week. But for now, that’s the RB list — rushers who have produced for a significant stretch of time, regardless of whether they’re playing for a giant school or a tiny one.

Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email