CLOSING THE BOOK: 2019 Damien Monarchs

Damien fullback River Iaea (8) struck a pose after scoring a touchdown against Castle. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

2019 TEAM RECORD
>> 8-3 overall, 6-2 ILH Division I

HEAD COACH
>> Eddie Klaneski is 47-43 in nine seasons and the only Monarchs coach with a winning record in his career.

KEY UNDERCLASSMEN IN 2019
>> LB/FB River Iaea, Jr.; WR/DB Makanale’a Meyer, So.; WR/DB Alohi Arecchi, Jr.; LB/QB Duke Hoohuli, Jr.; RB Amo Sulu, Jr.; DE/WR Jayce Jay-Pedro, So.


DAMIEN THROUGH THE YEARS: 1965-2019

HISTORICAL EQUIVALENT: 2006 Kahuku

With apologies to all of the great Damien teams of the past that competed in the regular ILH, the 2019 Monarchs may have been better than any of them.

Eddie Klaneski‘s Monarchs didn’t win a league championship or even qualify for the state tournament, but they did put together an 8-3 record and 13.1 point differential. That last metric is the program’s highest since the school opened in 1965 and rivaled only by the plus-10.2 Klaneski put up four years ago. They have had a positive point differential for five years running, easily a program record but it helps that they are not fed to Saint Louis and Punahou multiple times each year. Still, Klaneski has led the program to five winning seasons in a row. Before he took over, Damien had three winning seasons EVER.

Klaneski’s defense held up pretty much the same as it always does, giving up 19.4 points a game for the school’s highest number since 2013. That number doesn’t seem to jibe with the eye test as the defense came up with stop after stop late in the year, but it does take into account giving up 34 and 38 in back-to-back games against playoff teams Leilehua and ‘Iolani before settling down for the stretch run.

While Klaneski has built a defensive culture that seems like it will never wane, this team will be remembered for its explosive offense. The school that is known for shining stars like Kama Bailey, Kealoha Pilares and Chris Truby put together a unit that averaged 32.5 points per game, easily the most effective in the program’s history although it did it with a far easier schedule. No coach before Klaneski has put together an offense that scored even 27 points per game.

The offense began with triggerman Jake Holtz, but Klaneski was careful not to put all of his hopes on one talented player and stayed with his balanced offense. Holtz was probably a slight step down from Marcus Fuafata-Pedrina, but that is a hard act to follow. Holtz led the team in passing for the second straight year, giving the school a 1,000-yard passer for the fourth time in a row. Holtz looked like he was going to break every one of Fuafata-Pedrina’s records after the first three games this year, when he threw nine touchdowns passes and only one interception in wins at Lahainaluna, Radford and Waipahu.

He threw for more than 200 yards in each of those games, including the school’s fourth-highest performance with 257 yards against Radford, but never did it since. He threw his last touchdown pass in Week 6 but only played three games — two against ‘Iolani and one against Moanalua — after that because of a suspension. Logan Lacio took over for Holtz during the suspension and was even better and possibly should have finished the season as the starter. He didn’t take a snap after Holtz returned despite an outstanding 28-for-45 with 450 yards and six touchdowns and no interceptions with most of his hay made against an outstanding Kailua defense.


Holtz and Lacio were just as dangerous with their legs as they were with their arms, but that wasn’t what kept opposing defensive coordinators up at night. That player was running back Amo Sulu, who put together the best rushing season for the school since Kama Bailey in 2007. Sulu finished with 1,307 yards and 14 touchdowns on 177 carries and led the program in rushing for the second straight year. Sulu took a back seat to Holtz initially, but once he broke out with 122 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries against St. Thomas More there was no stopping him. Sulu broke the century mark in seven straight games before the season-ending loss to Iolani, breaking Bailey’s record of six in 2007. He finished his career with nine games over 100, passing Pilares for the most behind only Bailey’s 15.

Sulu’s string ended in the season-ender against Iolani when he looked hobbled and gutted out 82 yards on 17 carries but was held out of the end zone for the first time all season. Holtz picked up the slack in that game, leading the team with 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

With Sulu and the quarterbacks eating up three quarters of the carries there wasn’t much room for anyone else but Chance Maghinay-Santos and River Iaea made the most of their limited work with Maghinay-Santos compiling 189 yards on 35 carries and Iaea breaking the plane five times on only 31 carries. 

While Sulu and Holtz put their names among the greatest in school history, they are not alone. Jarvis Natividad grew up before our eyes in 2019, going from a possession receiver with 15 catches for 190 yards in 2018 to an undisputed gamebreaker in 2019.

Natividad didn’t have a catch in the first game at Lahianaluna, but immediately made up for lost time with 161 yards, good for third on the school’s single game list, with two touchdowns against Radford. Natividad kept going from there, finishing with 47 catches for 845 yards and nine touchdowns, the first receiver in school history to have 100 or more yards receiving four times in the same season. For all of his spectacular performances with Holtz, giving Lacio a much-needed security blanket was his greatest accomplishment. He had 10 catches and a touchdown in the game Holtz was suspended and followed it up with multiple touchdown receptions in the next two games with Lacio throwing to him. 

Natividad’s threat benefited the other receivers, with Makanalea Meyer grabbing 40 balls for 408 yards and Ezra Kaina going 30-411-3 and Tino Atonio and Jayce-Jay Pedro also catching touchdown passes. Meyer was the man when the season started, with 125 yards against Lahainaluna, and caught at least one pass in every contest. Sulu was an effective receiver in the first half of the year, including 140 yards and a touchdown against St. Thomas More, but caught only two passes in the last six games after hauling in 17 in the first six contests.

The Holtz-Natividad hookup will graduate, so Lacio will have to find a new playmate if the offense doesn’t want to consist of giving Sulu a Derrick Henry/Billy Sims type workload. Lacio will have plenty of options, led by Meyer, Iaea, Duke Hoohuli, Maghinay-Santos and Thomas Labanon.


Damien running back Amo Sulu (25) finished with more than 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving against St. Thomas More Collegiate. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

2019 TEAM STATS

PASSINGGC-A-IYdsTD
Jake Holtz9127-252-51,63013
Logan Lacio728-45-04506
Jarvis Natividad102-2-0260
River Iaea81-1-0250
Duke Hoohuli40-2-000
RUSHINGGAttYdsTD
Amo Sulu111771,30714
Jake Holtz9884668
Chance Maghinay-Santos6351892
River Iaea8311635
Logan Lacio721791
Duke Hoohuli42150
Ezra Kaina11540
Tyrell Bucasas1100
Makanalea Meyer113-70
TEAM1112-500
RECEIVINGGRecYdsTD
Jarvis Natividad10478459
Ezra Kaina11304113
Makanalea Meyer11404082
Amo Sulu11192883
Tino Atonio58611
Chance Maghinay-Santos52270
Jayce Jay-Pedro63231
River Iaea84220
Quinn Fukawa12220
Thomas Labanon12180
Logan Lacio7260
Damien receiver Thomas Labanon (28) caught a pass while being defended by Castle defensive back Chevas Kam (28). Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Damien quarterback Jake Holtz (11) accounted for 21 touchdowns during his senior season. Photo by Darryl Oumi/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Damien receiver Jarvis Natividad (7) put s stiff arm on Kailua defensive back Kala’i Cardin-Kiaha (11) as safety Lydell Romero (34) tried to chase him down. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Damien defensive lineman Tyler Kulinski (45) hurried Moanalua quarterback RJ Javar (10) during the second half. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Damien receiver Makanale’a Meyer (21) leaped to make a catch ahead of Moanalua defensive back Aukai Grace (4). Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Damien defensive back Alohi Arecchi (9) intercepted a pass intended for Moanalua receiver Rudy Kealohi (11) during the first half. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Damien’s Amo Sulu (25) went into the end zone on a touchdown run against Leilehua. Photo by Darryl Oumi/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

COMMENTS

  1. Makule ILH Fan November 12, 2019 3:17 am

    Whoever tweeted that this year’s Damien football team may be the best in school’s history never saw the 1980 team lead by Ana Tuiasasopo and Regan Kaanoi. The class of 1982 (Todd Schmidt and Kalai Bulutski) team would give this year’s team dirty hurts and the 1988 team (RB Eric Mau) who played STL for the ILH championship at Cooke field would’ve just hurt them. This year’s team had size and talent but lacked discipline and went 0-3 against a tiny Iolani team over the last 2 seasons while never playing Stl, Pun or Kamehameha. Comparing apples to lychee.


  2. Monarch Fan November 12, 2019 2:35 pm

    Makule ILH Fan

    The team is a reflection of coaching, and I’m positive they would of won if had they had a better O line coach. Stop the whining, taking it back 20 years is a far cry from how the game is played in this day and age.

    Pump your brakes and let these kids be. These kids played with heart and passion, the last thing they need is a banana like you comparing
    apples to lychee.

    There just as good as STL, Punahou and Kamehameha. Peace be with you!!!


  3. LouLouLife November 12, 2019 7:16 pm

    Monarch Fan

    Are you some kind of comedian😂😂😂?? Cause that was some funny shnizzle to say Damien just as good as STL, Punahou, and Kamehameha!!! Didn’t Damien get smashed by not so good Campbell this preseason??? St. Louis would have their 3rd string JV team by 2nd quarter against Damien!!!😂


  4. Makule ILH Fan November 13, 2019 12:59 am

    Monarch Fan. The article didn’t acknowledge Damien’s history of great teams or players including Coach Eddie. The Damien teams of the 80s and 90s played perennial powers STL, Punahou and Kamehameha two times each season. Your inability to recognize this fact or that this year’s team couldn’t even win a 2 team league; while you whine about the O Line coach is reminiscent of a Lemon.


  5. BUTTERFLY NOT A LION November 13, 2019 12:46 pm

    Before St. Louis beat Damien by 80 pts. , so Damien cried and started Division 2, to stop the mercy killing. Good example is this year Damien QB, he was 4th string at St. Louis, so he left went to Damien
    So wake up,slow your roll, dont stick out the chest because, even if Damien win their division, you still the 4th place ILH Team. JUST THE TRUTH


  6. @BUTTERFLY NOT A LION November 13, 2019 2:27 pm

    @BUTTERFLY NOT A LION . This Damien team would have beat Kam this year. Divisions make sense. This year was a testament to that.


  7. LouLouLife November 13, 2019 11:14 pm

    As terrible as Kam was this year (coaching was the problem, sorry just my opinion) they would still beat Damien. It would be a pretty good game, but Kam would still beat them!!


  8. LC November 14, 2019 10:17 am

    Best team ever? Lose to a smaller ‘Iolani squad twice, lucky to have even had that second game as ‘Iolani should have beaten Leilehua, Monarchs aren’t in the playoffs, so best Monarchs team ever? Don’t think so. A little discipline (which that team severely lacks), put the egos aside, stop blaming everyone else for losing and just play football, maybe we can than have this conversation.


  9. ILH November 15, 2019 12:08 pm

    I can say that this years team had some of the best talent we have seen in ages at the school. But it takes much more than just talent to make a great team.

    But as far as best team, maybe top 10.

    Hard to overlook those early 80’s teams, along with that 89 team, then the early 90’s and who can forget those consecutive years of 1000 yd rushers, Martinez( 91-first to do it since Mosi Tatupu), Decosta, Pilares, Bailey, Furtado.

    I applaud what Coach K is doing. The Monarchs are moving in the right direction and before long will be in the Open Division.


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