There are plenty of Mililani football players whose contributions could be described as mighty.
But there is only one with who gets to use a capital M … and it’s not the obvious guess — the 6-foot, 250 pound Kilifi Malepeai.
We’re talking about senior Dreyston Barquis. He is 5 feet 1 and 140 pounds, and his teammates call him “Mighty” — a reference to the Mighty Mouse cartoon character.
Unlike Malepeai, Barquis does not enjoy star status, at least not outside the Central Oahu campus. But he is highly respected by teammates and coaches for what he brings to the team, seemingly against all odds.
Barquis, like his mother and two sisters, has genetic markings for Leri-Weill dyschondrosteosis, which, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, is a disorder of bone growth. People with the disorder typically have shortening of the arms and legs and typically have short stature.
In the accompanying video, Barquis — who wears jersey No. 38 for the Trojans — talks about his football-playing experiences, and his coaches and teammates speak about what Mighty means to the team.
Barquis is not a starter, but when he gets in, the coaches all rave that he does the job efficiently, whether it’s blocking, running or catching passes. He has four touchdowns this season, two by rushing and two through the air from senior quarterback Dillon Gabriel.
“Dreyston was so happy when the doctor measured him at 5 feet 1 and a quarter,” Dreyston’s father Deayonn Barquis said Wednesday. “His sister is 5 feet even. He really wanted that extra quarter inch.
“The doctors believe he will be 5-1 or 5-2 when he’s fully grown. That’s why he works twice as hard in the gym … just to keep up. The head JV coach Bruce (Scanlan) gave him his nickname. His mother didn’t let him play football until his freshman year. She was worried about concussions. He got cut from the team three times, but he came back and asked to practice with the team every time. The next thing you know, he made the team.”
Barquis suffered a major ACL injury and missed his whole junior season, but worked to get back as soon as possible. Wanting to play so badly, Barquis was bummed out, according to Deayonn, but didn’t let the setback end his dream. As a result, he was back preparing for the 2018 season in December, just a few months after suffering the injury.
“No other coach believes he lifts what he lifts,” Deayonn said. “He’s 140 and his warm-up weight is 150. And not only did he battle his height, he’s also dyslexic with ADHD. He went to Assets School for three years to learn how to learn. Even in the classroom, he works harder than everybody else.
“We have five kids and the one person I look up to is Dreyston. With all the things he faces, he shows me nothing can hold him back. He doesn’t get much playing time, but he makes the most of it and he’s hoping it launches him to college football, even if it’s a D-III school. He tells me he’s going to try his hardest to get an academic or athletic scholarship. He’s my biggest inspiration. I tell him that if he was 6 feet tall, he would have scholarships up the yin yang.”
Barquis wants to run the 100-meter dash during track season and he’s thinking about joining wrestling.
Football opponents have taken notice. Barquis caught the attention of 300-pound Waianae defensive lineman Zefften Thompson-Avilla during Mililani’s 35-0 regular-season victory.
“At the end of the game, he came up to Dreyston and said, ‘I give you all my respect. You blocked me.’ ”
Deayonn also thinks Dreyston is a prime example of coach Rod York‘s mantra: “Make the unpopular popular.”
“Referring to a special education class Dreyston was in, some middle school friends asked him, ‘You make it look so cool. How can I get into that class?’ ” Deayonn said.
Barquis and the rest of the second-ranked Mililani Trojans (9-2) play fifth-ranked Campbell (8-4) on Friday night at Aloha Stadium in the Open Division semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships.