CLOSING THE BOOK: 2019 McKinley Tigers

McKinley's Zion Williams attempted to run through the Kalani defense in a game this season. Photo by George F. Lee/Star-Advertiser.

2019 RECORD
>> 1-9 overall, 1-7 OIA Division II

HEAD COACH
>> Pat Silva is 6-21 in his three seasons as McKinley coach and 26-46-1 in eight season overall

KEY UNDERCLASSMEN IN 2019
>> WR/DB Quincy Owens-Barnes, 5-7, 120, Jr.; RB/LB Tyler Sheidlin, 5-10, 185, Jr.; QB/LB Kaena Leopoldo, 5-9, 160, Jr.; DB Brandon Chae, 5-7, 150, Jr.


MCKINLEY THROUGH THE YEARS: 1973-2019

HISTORICAL EQUIVALENT: 2000 Pac-Five

Pat Silva‘s third edition of McKinley Tigers took a step back this year after such a promising second season. McKinley won only a single game and lost nine, its most since 1989 under Charlie Kaaihue, but at least this team tasted victory once.

McKinley’s offense struggled, averaging 7.4 points per game after compiling 13.0 the season before, Silva’s worst since his winless Roosevelt team in 2011. That number would have been even lower if not for the outstanding special teams group that scored three touchdowns to the offense’s six. 

The defense didn’t provide much competition for the offense in practice, as its numbers were just as bad. McKinley allowed 37.3 points against per game two full touchdowns more than the previous year and the highest mark since Sam Cantiberos‘ historically bad first season in 2015. 

Kaena Leopoldo emerged as the top quarterback this season, putting up more than 100 more passes than his backups and leading the crew with 774 yards despite a completion percentage of 45 percent. Keanu Pimental began the season as the starter but threw three interceptions in the opener and didn’t throw another pass after week three mostly because of the return of media darling Alexandria Buchanan from injury.

Buchanan threw 11 passes in her first game back and took care of the ball until her third game. She threw three passes without a completion with two interceptions in a loss to Kalani and saw her chances dwindle after that. She finished the season 12-for-32 with 101 yards and five interceptions and no touchdowns. She led the team in passing yards as a sophomore but regressed since, finishing her celebrated career 58-for-150 for 415 yards and three touchdowns with 22 picks.


Once Leopoldo grabbed the job, he threw for the most yards in a season for a McKinley quarterback since Alex Ironside went over a grand in 2011 and he covered more ground than the program’s top passer in the last two years combined. Buchanan and Leopoldo were at their efficient best in the win over Kalaheo, going 9-for-14 for 118 yards and no picks. 

The biggest difference for the offense, and probably for the team as a whole, was the loss of Migguel Camacho to graduation. Camacho churned up 1,128 rushing yards last year and allowed Silva to protect his quarterbacks with a 75/25 run/pass split. Without Camacho, the Tigers went 50/50 between the run and pass and Zion Williams led the club with a meager 218 rushing yards and two touchdowns on a healthy 3.8 yards per carry.

The problem was that even tough he was easily the team’s best running back, he got to show it only 57 times. He didn’t get 10 carries in a game until the final contest against Pac-Five, and he responded with 90 yards and his only two touchdowns a week after gaining 61 yards on nine carries against a tough Kaimuki defense. Leopoldo and Franklin Pham were the only other backs to earn more than 10 carries in a game and Leopoldo was the only other back to gain more than 100 yards this year. Khert Vincent-Saing had the school’s only other rushing touchdown.

With the balanced offense, McKinley’s receivers had a lot more opportunities than they previously had. Quincy Owens-Barnes was the biggest beneficiary of Silva’s scheme, catching 29 passes for 255 yards and a touchdown and becoming the first Tiger to compile that many receiving yards since Tyrell Tuiasosopo in 2012. Owens-Barnes didn’t have more than 49 yards receiving in a game but was as sure-handed as they come on Kapiolani Blvd., catching a pass against every opponent except Kaiser and grabbing seven balls against Nanakuli before saving his lone touchdown celebration for the season-ender against Pac-Five.

Aaron Velasco was Silva’s big-play threat, catching only six passes but covering 215 yards on them with two touchdowns. That 35.8 yards per catch led the state among receivers with at least five catches, more than 10 yards more than No. 2 EJ Dydasco of Castle. He wasn’t the only Tiger who needed the ball more (Valasco never had more than one catch in a game), as Vincent-Saing took his lone reception 41 yards for a score trailing only Mililani’s Asher Pilanca in yards per catch. Jayden Victorino and Joab Cruz also had 200-plus receiving yards for the team, quadrupling the number of player to do that from last year.

McKinley loses a ton of talent next year, including Victorino, Pimental, Buchanan, Williams, Velasco, Vincent-Saing and Pham. That leaves Leopoldo and Owens-Barnes to nurture a young group and Silva to decide if he will play his two best pieces together on offense or move one or both of them to help the leaky defense full time.


McKinley’s Aaron Velasco tried to outrun Kalaheo defenders Jackson Aber and Nicolas Lau in a game this season. Photo by George F. Lee/Star-Advertiser.

2019 TEAM STATS

PASSINGGC-A-IYdsTD
Kaena Leopoldo861-136-77743
Keanu Pimental48-33-42010
Alexandria Buchanan712-32-51010
Jayden Victorino75-10-1190
RUSHINGGAttYdsTD
Zion Williams9572182
Kaena Leopoldo8431090
Khert Vincent-Saing724821
Franklin Pham845810
Tyler Sheidlin514290
Quincy Owens-Barnes105100
Reno Vitale1380
Beneiah Togafau4560
Jayden Victorino74-30
Joab Cruz95-50
Keanu Pimental45-170
TEAM104-360
Alexandria Buchanan79-500
RECEIVINGGRecYdsTD
Quincy Owens-Barnes10292551
Aaron Velasco662152
Jayden Victorino7132140
Joab Cruz9212020
Zion Williams97941
Khert Vincent-Saing71410
Tyler Sheidlin51160
Beneiah Togafau41130
Alex Linmark11120
Keanu Pimental41100
Franklin Pham8290
Ethan Duong2270
Paxton Nouchi2270
McKinley quarterback Alexandria Buchanan dove to pick up a loose ball. Photo by George F. Lee/Star-Advertiser.
McKinley’s Joab Cruz was brought down by Kalaheo’s Jack Lemonds after one of his five receptions against the Mustangs. Photo by George F. Lee/Star-Advertiser.
McKinley’s Zion Williams tried to elude Kalani’s Min Seo Kim in a game at Roosevelt. Photo by George F. Lee/Star-Advertiser.
McKinley’s Franklin Pham (43) returned a kickoff against King Kekaulike in the season opener. Photo by Andrew Lee/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

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