Alfred Failauga’s special night could pale in comparison to what’s likely to happen in six days.
The 342 rushing yards he produced on 31 carries in a 49-28 win at Castle on Friday were the fifth most in a single game in Oahu history. He also added five touchdowns, which all came in the second half.
His performance against the Knights, was nothing short of amazing. In the process, he also leapfrogged Kahuku’s Mark Atuaia and Aofaga Wily and ‘Iolani’s Joe Igber to stand alone at No. 2 in all-time rushing yards in the state of Hawaii. He now needs just 54 yards to surpass former Mililani and current Southern California running back Vavae Malepeai to be the state’s all-time leading rusher.
“The record would be great,” Failauga said. “Respect to all those players on top there. Hats off to all of them. If I break the record, that would really mean a lot for my family and my community, and my friends and everyone out there who believed in me.”
Failauga entered the year sixth on the state’s rushing list. In the season opener, his 234 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries vaulted him past Damien’s Kama Bailey.
When Failauga was a sophomore, it was fair to speculate whether or not the day would come where he’d top Malepeai’s mark. Two years later, Friday against Leilehua seems to be the likely date that it becomes reality.
“It couldn’t happen to a better person, that’s the satisfying thing about it,” Waipahu coach Bryson Carvalho said of Failauga. “At the same time, even though he’s in arm’s reach of it, he’ll always credit it to the entire team, the offensive line.
“That’s what I love about him. He’s a complete team player.”
The versatile Failauga has been used in a multitude of ways over the years in the Waipahu running game. He’s always a threat to break off an explosive run, but even as an undersized underclassman, he never shied away from short-yardage situations.
On Friday night against Castle, Failauga let the game come to him. With the team holding on to a slim 13-7 lead, he had 59 yards on 10 carries at the break. He went crazy in the second half with 283 rushing yards and the five TD’s.
“He’s an amazing kid. We made some adjustments at halftime, there were certain players that we just didn’t pick up in the blocking scheme that we adjusted,” Carvalho said. “The second half, we ran two plays. We just fed him the ball and he did his thing.
“We’re blessed to have him but at the same time, the offensive line did a hell of a job getting him those yards as well. It’s a team effort for sure.”
Through two games in the 2019 season alone, Failauga already has 576 yards on 55 carries with seven rushing touchdowns. It’s a high usage rate but Failauga is ready for it. During training, he’ll sometimes stick around to pull sleds or do extra running on the bleachers.
“It’s pretty tiring, but whatever you have to do for the team. We’re just gonna stick it out and if we want to run, we’re gonna run the ball,” he said. “We’re just gonna do what’s best for the team and I understand our line was really tired and shout-out to our line. Without them, I wouldn’t be the guy I am here today.
“They pushed to put me in position and I know it was really tiring. As much as I’m tired, the line is really tired too. Hats off to the lineman and the defense for stopping them and making sure we got inside there.”
When the defending state champion Marauders take the field against the Mules next Friday, as long as Failauga is in the game, he has the ability to make the record his on any play.
What seemed to be a matter of ‘if’ is now a matter of ‘when’.
“We all know he’s a good player, but he’s a good person. He has integrity, he’s respectful. He’s a great role model,” Carvahlo said. “I think that’s the real satisfying thing about it. Excited for him but he says and I say that we’re more concerned about the team award than the individual.”