CLOSING THE BOOK: 2019 Waipahu Marauders

Waipahu linebacker Manuele Pulusila (45), middle, and defensive lineman AJ Fuimaono (95) celebrated after recovering a Leilehua fumble during an OIA playoff game. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

2019 TEAM RECORD
>> 4-6 overall, 4-2 OIA Division I

HEAD COACH
>> Bryson Carvalho is 33-21 overall in five seasons with the Marauders.

KEY UNDERCLASSMEN IN 2019
>> WR Jovan Gooman, 5-11, 175, Jr.; S Austin Pola, 6-0, 175, So.; LB Romero Tagata, 6-0, 215, Fr.; DL Tyrone Niuatoa, 5-11, 240, Jr.; DL Mathius Alegaa, 6-0, 215, So.


WAIPAHU THROUGH THE YEARS: 1973-2019

HISTORICAL EQUIVALENT: 2007 Kailua

The 2019 Waipahu Marauders learned what coaches since the dawn of time have warned about.

Despite how Saint Louis and Lahainaluna make it look, it’s not easy to repeat.

Waipahu finished 4-6 while trying to defend its league and state title, losing in the OIA semifinals. Despite a strong cast of returnees, coach Bryson Carvalho suffered his first losing season since his first year on the job in 2015.

The offense, led by Hawaii’s all-time leading rusher Alfred Failauga and quarterback Cody Marques, slipped a tiny bit in its second year of the OIA-ILH alliance, putting up 25.3 points per game after earning 26.3 during last year’s championship run. The offense has slipped for three straight years, but it was the defense that was the biggest culprit this season.

The Marauders allowed an average of 27.5 points per game this year, nine full points above last year’s 18.3 mark and the highest number for the school since 2015’s talent deficient group. The Marauders were trying to become the first team in school history to win 10 games or more for three straight years but remain tied with Masa Yonamine‘s 1957-58 championship teams.

Waipahu finished 22 points away from having a positive point differential for the fourth straight year, which would have been the longest streak since 1985-1988 under Keith Morioka and Francis Claveria.

Carvalho had every reason to be optimistic in a repeat, getting his two top playmakers back on offense in Marques and All-World Failauga at running back.


The offense obviously ran through Failauga, who finished first on Oahu in the Prep Bowl and State Championship eras (1973-present) in career games (39), attempts (940), and yards (5,795) but second in touchdowns (62) behind only Mililani’s Vavae Malepeai with 71.

He had a chance to extend his state-tournament records of 698 yards on 120 carries but the Marauders fell short and left the door open for Joshua Tihada of Lahainaluna (86-463) to make a run at his marks.

Much was made about Failauga’s heavy workload in his senior year, with 280 carries, but he did take a week off in the middle of the season. With every defense knowing he would get the ball 30-40 times only Damien held him under 100 yards and out of the end zone. The workload may have indeed taken its toll, the only teams to hold him under 4.3 yards per carry in a game were Kailua (3.8) and Leilehua (3.6) in the last two weeks and he went over 200 yards five times before meeting those two stout defenses.

Austin Pola was an adequate replacement when Failauga wasn’t carrying the entire load, going for 218 yards on 25 carries with three touchdowns against Radford while Failauga rested his weary bones. Pola, a stud defender, finished with 25 carries and didn’t get the ball even once following his outstanding performance. Failauga earned 69 percent of the team’s carries including sacks.

So Failauga finishes his prep career as Waipahu’s first four-year starter at running back with more than a thousand yards in each, transcending school, league and division to become one of the best backs in Hawaii’s history. He didn’t face the stout defenses legends like Malepeai, Joe Igber, Mark Atuaia and Mosi Tatupu did, but he produced against the teams put in front of him like no back ever had.

Even though Carvalho had the ultimate weapon in Failauga, he didn’t deter from the offense that brought the school a state title the previous year. The Marauders dialed up a pass 34 percent of the time after doing so 36 percent of the time in 2018 and the offense ran almost the same number of plays from scrimmage, 60.7 per game this year compared to 59.2 last year.

The similar scheme makes sense when you consider that Failauga wasn’t the only great player returning. Marques was coming off a 2,224-yard passing season but dipped to 1,389 as a senior (158.8 per game in 2018 to 136.9 in 2019). While Faliauga got a midseason break, Marques threw every pass but three for the Marauders. What hurt him most was throwing more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (five) for the second straight year, but it is hard to finish in the positive in that statistic when you share a backfield with one of the state’s best finishers. Marques enjoyed his best game with Pola in the backfield with him against Radford, throwing for 241 yards and two touchdowns without a pick against a weak defense. Marques found his kryptonite in Leilehua, going 13-for-38 for 121 yards and three interceptions in two games against the Mules, and a career average of 88 yards in four games against Mark Kurisu. Marques had the fewest passing yards in a season for a Waipahu quarterback since Blaise De Asis in 2015.

The passing game missed Matthew Fiesta from the title team, but Solofa Setu stepped up into the leading receiver role for a balanced group that included Jovan Gooman, Aston Contado and Brenden Tsuchiyama, who all caught more than 10 passes. They also got 100-yard performances from Failauga and Logan Lauti. Steu started the year on fire but fizzled with only three catches in the final month but still led the unit with 302 yards, the fewest for a leading receiver for the program since De Asis in 2013, two years before Carvalho’s arrival. His big game was a 128-yard, two-TD effort against Castle in week 2 but he never had more than three catches in a game after that. Contado emerged as the most reliable receiver late in the year, picking up half of his catches in the final two games when the offense struggled the most. Gooman was the steadiest receiver from beginning to end, grabbing a catch in each of the team’s nine games after missing the season opener at Waianae.

Marques and Failauga will move on after the disappointing finish, along with 22 other seniors. Carvalho seems to be able to craft skill position players out of nowhere, so the next Failauga or Marques might already be on campus. Gooman and Badua are the top returning receivers but look like they can play anywhere and Pola, a sophomore, has already proven it. Fellow sophomore Jacqson Aiu looked the part in a cameo against Castle early in the year.


Waipahu’s Cody Marques (7) looked for room to run against Kailua. Photo by Andrew Lee/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

2019 TEAM STATS

PASSINGGC-A-IYdsTD
Cody Marques10103-201-71,3895
Alfred Failauga91-1-0801
Jacqson Aiu11-2-060
RUSHINGGAttYdsTD
Alfred Failauga92801,87619
Austin Pola2252353
Cody Marques1084614
Aston Contado82240
Logan Lauti92180
Fiva Tulafale51150
Jeff Badua6141
Pysen Kinchiro1130
Branden Tsuchiyama8100
TEAM106-570
RECEIVINGGRecYdsTD
Solofa Setu8183023
Jovan Gooman9162602
Aston Contado8162310
Jeff Badua6111400
Logan Lauti971180
Alfred Failauga861021
Branden Tsuchiyama811990
Alema Slade55470
Fiva Tulafale53460
Triton Nieves36380
Titus Suan22300
Justin Reyes22160
Austin Pola2190
Waipahu’s Alfred Failauga broke the state’s career rushing record against Leilehua. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Waipahu receiver Triton Nieves (84) reached back to try to catch a pass against Leilehua in the OIA playoffs. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Waipahu linebacker Fiva Tulafale (9) blocked an extra point during the regular season against Leilehua. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Waipahu’s Solofa Setu (8) got past Castle’s defense to score a touchdown. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Waipahu quarterback Cody Marques ran for a TD against Waianae. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.
Waipahu running back Alfred Failauga (25) blew away the state’s career rushing mark during his senior season. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Waipahu quarterback Cody Marques pitched the ball in a game against Damien. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

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