The 2019 Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State football team features Saint Louis quarterback Jayden de Laura as offensive player of the year and linebacker Nick Herbig as defensive player of the year.
Kaimuki’s David Tautofi is the coach of the year.
To read the Star-Advertiser’s feature on the team plus cards of each individual player selected to the first team, click here.
For the complete All-State teams and honorable mention selections, Click here.
Capsules of the 2019 Star-Advertiser Football All-State first-team selections are below. Voting is done by coaches and media. All divisions are combined to create three All-State teams.
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
OL Faaope Laloulu, Farrington
The journey has been unpredictable, full of highs and lows, but the stoic persona of Laloulu has been consistent. After starring at Division II St. Francis, the school closed its doors last year and Laloulu transferred to Farrington. His success in the Open Division netted big points from coaches and media, who voted Laloulu the top O-lineman. He follows in a line of tremendous college and pro blockers. Laloulu stopped playing basketball this season and is focused on his next chapter: Oregon.
“For a player his size, he is very light with his feet,” Governors coach Daniel Sanchez said. “He moves better than most offensive linemen half his size. Ope was asked to play inside this year to utilize his pulling skills. He got better at turning upfield to get second-level blocks for us. We will miss his leadership on and off the field. He always had a positive attitude this season. Ope played with tenacity on the field, yet a very humble young man off the field.”
OL Rod Dupont, Saint Louis
The lone senior on a very young offensive line, Dupont called the shots from his perch at center. The Crusaders produced the most explosive offense in the state, facing the toughest schedule. The onus was on Dupont to direct his sophomore linemen, particularly with Saint Louis using a five-wide, empty-backfield formation often.
OL Solatoa Moeai, Punahou
Moeai and teammate Alema Moeava were cornerstones of the Buffanblu O-line, which stepped up big time after returning senior QB Hugh Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 2. Protecting freshman QB John-Keawe Sagapolutele and opening lanes for RB Vincent Terrell, Punahou fielded one of the most explosive offenses in the state.
“Toa moves his feet well and has great knee bend,” Punahou coach and former NFL offensive lineman Kale Ane said. “He can do it all now, run block and pass pro. He is the total package. I will miss his fun outlook, his leadership and, most of all, his commitment to his teammates and our program.”
OL Marcus Lombard, Kahuku
Lombard’s intelligence and versatility — he played guard, then tackle and finally center — were major assets as injuries best the O-line. Lombard was under the wise, watchful eyes of position coach Reggie Torres. “He’s always been good with his sets and balance. He’s most improved on his run-blocking techniques this season. We will miss his tenacity, work ethic and, most importantly, his leadership. With Lombard in the trenches, Kahuku revamped its offense and averaged more than 250 rushing yards per game after falling in its first two contests, winning the OIA Open Division crown and reaching the state final.
OL Alema Moeava, Punahou
The protection up front was invaluable to the Buffanblu after starting QB Hugh Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury on a sideline run. Moeava, Solatoa Moeai and the rest of the trench men set up freshman QB John-Keawe Sagapolutele for a superb first season. They also paved the path for RB Vincent Terrell, who had a breakout year. Punahou was the only team to lead nationally-ranked Saint Louis at halftime, and the only two losses in 12 games came against the Crusaders.
“Alema is a load when he run blocks and gets his feet moving. He has really gotten better at pass protection,” Punahou coach and former NFL OL Kale Ane said. “He works hard and it shows.”
WR Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, Campbell
Mokiao-Atimalala repeats as a first-team selection. The junior had another off-the-charts season at wide receiver with 62 receptions for 1,136 yards and 18 TDs in 11 games. He also had six interceptions as a safety, returning two for TDs, and had two forced fumbles and a recovery. He now has eight scholarship offers: Cal, Hawaii, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Utah, Washington State and Wisconsin. “Hard work. He’s developed into a great WR, great leadership,” Sabers coach Darren Johnson said. “It’s hard to compare him to anyone I’ve coached because he’s just so good.”
REC Koali Nishigaya, Saint Louis
The scintillating slotback followed up a modest junior season with a breakout year to help the Crusaders four-peat as state champion. Nishigaya caught 68 passes for 936 yards and eight TDs with some of the most dramatic and game-changing plays of the season. He also stepped in at RB for seven TD rushes. His off-season training was epic, and the results showed against some of the best competition: 10 catches, 103 yards, TD vs. Bishop Gorman. He also had five hauls for 263 yards and two TDs vs. Mililani.
REC Roman Wilson, Saint Louis
The state hurdles champion was a blur to most defensive backs as he refined his skills and increased his efficiency as a route runner. The former Kihei Dolphins standout took a big chance by moving to Oahu, and he was rewarded mightily. Wilson’s 60 receptions for 1,017 yards and 11 TDs instilled fear in opposing defenses, stretching them vertically to open the underneath possibilities for teammates. Wilson is a commit to Michigan.
RB Zealand Matagi, Kahuku
The junior stepped his game up a notch after the Red Raiders re-committed to a run-heavy mix of elephant formations and other ground-and-pound sets. Matagi drew a comparison from an opposing coach to former standout RB Jason Ke‘o. Matagi rushed for 1,418 yards and 19 TDs on 240 carries in 13 games, using his one-cut move to consistently pick up first downs while punishing unleveraged tacklers.
RB Vincent Terrell, Punahou
All the hours in the weight room paid off for the speedy, shifty Terrell. With a rookie QB in the shotgun, the weight of the offense fell on the senior RB and his O-line, and they delivered. He rushed for 962 yards and 13 TDs on 165 carries, adding 15 receptions for 146 yards and three more scores. Terrell also spurred Punahou with a 90-yard kick return against Saint Louis as the Buffanblu became the only team to lead the eventual four-peat state champions at the half. Terrell has one offer: Army.
QB Jayden de Laura, Saint Louis
Offensive player of the year
He began as an athlete following instinct. He ends his career at Saint Louis as a master tactician playing chess against the toughest defenses on any schedule in the islands. Much like Chevan Cordeiro and Tua Tagovailoa before him, de Laura developed the patience it takes to be both playmaker and maestro of the state’s most productive offense. He passed for 3,452 yards and 29 TDs with just eight picks in 12 games. He completed more than 71 percent of his passes and has a passer rating of 187.4. He also led the Crusaders in rushing with 341 yards and eight TDs in 88 attempts. He committed to Washington State on Oct. 2 and signed with the Cougars on Wednesday.
Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho:
“Jayden is in the conversation of top QBs in state history. He is smart with the ball, has a quick delivery and can be fun with the ball, and kills defenses with his legs… Honestly, his confidence. Jayden took his game to another level and dissected defenses. He took what they gave him. We had to game plan the entire field for Jayden. He could make all the throws.”
Campbell coach Darren Johnson:
“He is a special kind of quarterback that can prolong plays with his legs and arm. Washington State got them a dream kind of guy. He runs the (Saint Louis) offense to perfection.”
Punahou coach Kale Ane:
“Jayden is a multi-dimensional player. He can throw, run, lead and pressure does not affect him. He’s similar to the QBs he represents at the school. Some Marcus, Chevan, a little Tua, but he also reminds me of a c couple of older Saint Louis QBs — Darnell (Arceneaux) and Kaipo Spencer. All great athletes, dual threats, and the tougher the game, the better they performed. I love to coach against all of them or, in Kaipo’s case, play against him. If you don’t bring your A-game, they will hammer you. They force you to give up your game (plan).”
U Kilohana Haasenritter, Hilo
A skilled receiver and hard-nosed playmaker after the catch, Haasenritter quickly became a cog in the Vikings’ dynamic offense after transferring from KS-Hawaii, and his skill as a defensive back was another valued asset as Hilo captured its second Division I state title in three seasons. Haasenritter finished with 44 receptions for 661 yards and 12 TDs, and rushed for 249 yards and seven TDs. He is a commit to Hawaii.
Hilo coach Kaeo Drummondo:
“Kilohana is driven from within to be great. His work ethic is among the highest I’ve seen from a student-athlete. Kilo’s versatile skill sets a football player is a strength and paid huge dividends for us. He has the ability to start at wide receiver and corner and that went a long ways for us being able to execute our game plans, especially defensively. The most important strength that he possesses is that he’s a team-first guy. He led by example, encouraged his teammates and never complained about the different things that we asked of him. He bought into the we-over-me motto of our program.”
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DT Stanley McKenzie, Saint Louis
Patience has been a virtue for the talented McKenzie. He learned it as a first baseman and designated hitter for the Crusaders baseball team. He learned it playing in the shadow of Faatui Tuitele, the standout player of the year who graduated last June. McKenzie’s role in the 3-4 defense is simple, but heavy. He bears the brunt of double-team blocks week after week, absorbing the punishment while his D-ends and linebackers fill gaps and make plays. A third-team selection last year, he is the cornerstone in the trenches for the state’s finest defensive unit, and a four-time state champion. McKenzie signed with Cal on Wednesday.
DT Zion Ah You, Kahuku
It’s not surprise that Ah You’s favorite player is Los Angeles Rams nose tackle Aaron Donald. Ah You, like Donald, doesn’t wow anyone with superficialities like height, but opposing quarterbacks and running backs are quite familiar with him. Ah You’s production as a playmaker extended to the other side of the ball. Kahuku utilized him as fullback, banking on a power running game that fueled a run to the OIA title. In the state semifinal against Campbell, he had 2.5 sacks and rushed for a TD.
DE Ezra Evaimalo, Kamehameha
The Warriors depended heavily on their defensive unit again, and Evaimalo was up to the task. His run-stopping skills were stellar, but his pass-rushing ability was terrifying for opposing QBs in the ILH and OIA’s Open Division. He finished the season with 12 sacks in 10 games, recovered four fumbles and scored a TD. Evaimalo signed with Hawaii on Wednesday.
Tevarua Tafiti, Punahou DE
The rangy sophomore finished his season with 60.5 tackles, 27 for loss, 11 sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, three pass deflections and one touchdown — a 70-yard strip and sprint. Three of his sacks came in Punahou’s 45-0 road win over Long Beach Poly.
LB Nick Herbig, Saint Louis
Defensive player of the year
The move from Kauai to Honolulu was major, following older brother Nate (Stanford) to live with their grandparents. “It changed my mentality,” says Nick, now a repeat all-state selection and defensive player of the year. Herbig’s pressure, awareness and opportunism contributed to a four-peat state title for the Crusaders. He came up with six tackles, 5.5 for losses including 2.5 sacks, and returned a pick 96 yards for a TD in Saint Louis’ 45-6 win over Kahuku in the state final. Herbig signed with Wisconsin and will enroll in January after graduating early at Saint Louis.
Punahou coach Kale Ane:
“Nick is a great player, reminds me of the players he will be playing at Wisconsin. Tough, hard-nosed and competitive. He fits the M.O. of a Badger linebacker. They are getting a good one. What makes him great is his preparation and attention to detail. He is always in the right place at the right time, and it’s not luck.”
Campbell coach Darren Johnson:
“Nick reminds me a lot of (the late) Nick Maafala. He can take over a game at any given time. Real good, very active and hard to block.”
Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho:
“I’m a (Chicago) Bears fan, so I would compare Nick to Brian Urlacher. He has the speed, strength and quickness to play the run, rush the passer and cover any running back or wide receiver. An ideal three-down linebacker.”
LB Jordan Botelho, Saint Louis
Thrust into the core of Saint Louis’ renewed success, Botelho has been a game-changer since day one. His balance, acceleration and speed off the edge are elite, as is his clutch play. Botelho had a team-high eight tackles, including 1.5 for loss, in the Open Division state final win over Kahuku. The Crusaders permitted just 57 rushing yards by Kahuku’s smashmouth attack (1.4 per carry) and 9 rushing yards total by Mililani in the state semifinals. Botelho signed with Notre Dame and will enroll in January after graduating early at Saint Louis.
LB Lanakila Pei, ‘Iolani
Coach Wendell Look says it takes a special person to play sports at ‘Iolani. Pei is one of them and more. Pei made the move from safety to linebacker two seasons ago out of need. The undersized Raiders needed help in the box, and Pei became a walking, talking mastermind from sideline to sideline. In the Division I state semifinal against Moanalua, Pei picked off two passes and had a team-high nine tackles as the Raiders avenged a regular-season loss. In the state final vs. Hilo, Pei was clutch. He returned a punt 94 yards for a TD on the final play of the first half. With Hilo driving for a potential game-winning score, he came up with a strip to stop the Vikings inside the 20. Pei finished the final with a team-high 10.5 tackles and a pass deflection.
CB Kaonohi Kaniho, Kahuku
The legacy left behind by older brother Kekaula was not easy to carry, but Kaonohi did so with flying colors. Returning from injury as a junior, Kaniho earned respect on the field as a lockdown cornerback and solid run-stopper all season long. Media and coaches voted Kaniho the No. 1 corner in the balloting. He finished the season as a key cog for one of the top defensive units in the state, amassing four interceptions and five pass deflections. Kaniho will follow his brother to Boise State.
CB Rashod Tanner, Moanalua
The fleet-footed senior may have been the fastest coverage defender in the state, and also a playmaker. Tanner picked up seven interceptions as Na Menehune went 10-2 and won the OIA Division I title. Tanner will play in the Blue-Gray All-American Game.
“Rashod has great closing speed. His route recognition is advanced. He’s highly skilled at press coverage as well,” DBs coach Ray Sayers said. “Rashod, pound for pound, is one of the hardest hitters I’ve ever coached.”
S Alaka‘i Gilman, Punahou
There are defensive players and there are chess masters who use the gridiron as a chess board. Gilman was one of the select few who could make jarring tackles, deflect and pick off passes and come up with big fumbles for one of the state’s best defenses. He was also a director and conductor for the Buffanblu, helping the defense make key adjustments on the fly. He finished with two interceptions, four deflections and a TD, but his value as an orchestrator was equally vital. Gilman signed with Stanford.
S Kamo‘i Latu, Saint Louis
Ranging the secondary as a free safety, Latu’s preparation and execution are elite level. The hours spent studying footage helps Latu, a calculating, aggressive defender, a cornerstone of the Saint Louis defense. He has three interceptions and two deflections with a TD for the four-peat stare champions.
U Aukai Grace, Moanalua
As a cornerback duo with teammate Rashod Tanner, Grace provided great coverage plus natural instincts en route to 10 interceptions and six deflections as Moanalua captured the OIA Division championship. That includes two deflections in a state-tourney loss to ‘Iolani.
“Aukai has an uncanny ability to mirror WRs. He is rarely out of position to make a play. Aukai was my left CB because he’s a sound, sure tackler,” DBs coach Ray Sayers said. “We could one day see him on Sundays!”
FIRST TEAM SPECIALISTS
Keanu Keolanui, Hilo PK
After sitting out of football as a junior to focus on soccer, Keanu returned for senior season. He was a perfect 9-for-9 on field-goal attempts in nine games, including three in the state tourney. He drilled a 44-yard FG on the drenched terrain of Wong Stadium to help Hilo defeat Leilehua. Then Keanu made a 48 yarder in the final against ‘Iolani. That set up an epic comeback and climaxed with a 55-yard FG that bounced on the crossbar and over as time expired for a 20-17 title-game win.
Hilo coach Kaeo Drummondo:
“Keanu’s strength is his passion for the kicking game. His passion and self-motivation to continuously improve at his craft. He put in a lot of time and effort throughout the season to prepare himself for that big moment to end the season. Without all of his hard work, I’m not sure if he’s up to that moment. Keanu kicked for us as a sophomore and I was bummed when he decided to focus on soccer during his junior year. Fortunately, he decided to return for his senior year and had a stellar season.”
P Wailoa Manuel, ‘Iolani
The junior’s talent as a wide receiver is well utilized by the Raiders, who reached the title game of the Division I state tourney. He was dominant as a punter, averaging 43 yards per punt (13 punts) in the state semifinal and final. Three of his punts were downed inside the 20, and three more were of 50 or more yards. Manuel made nine field goals and also had team-highs of 57 receptions for 838 yards along with four TDs.
RET Shepherd Kekahuna, Roosevelt
Five times, Kekahuna returned kicks for touchdowns, giving the OIA Division II powerhouse Rough Riders another huge weapon. When adversity struck the Rough Riders, Kekahuna showed that he was up to the challenge. He moved from safety to linebacker after transferring to Roosevelt from St. Francis — which closed its doors last June. When injuries struck and production slipped, Kekahuna stepped in as a wide receiver and got more snaps as a running back — he scored five TDs out of the offensive backfield — for the Division II powerhouse Rough Riders.
David Tautofi, Kaimuki
Coach of the year
When David Tautofi took the head coaching job at Kaimuki, he had just departed from a small, private school in Las Vegas. He was familiar with low roster numbers, but nothing prepared him for the new challenge. Five years later, Kaimuki is a perennial Division II powerhouse. The Bulldogs won the OIA title this fall and reached the state tourney again, even as roster size got as low as the low 20s. Tautofi, who has a new baby son, considered a return to Las Vegas or an offer to coach at the FBS college level. He changed his mind, however, citing the calling he feels to stay at Kaimuki, where enrollment and district boundaries have shrunk over the years.