CLOSING THE BOOK: Campbell Sabers

Peter Manuma looked to the sideline and celebrated after a sack. Photo by Jordan Fong/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

The Campbell Sabers put together their third straight winning season and made it to the state tournament for the first time since 2016 before their loss to Mililani’s machine. Darren Johnson finished his second year at the school with a 15-10 record, matching the winning percentage of predecessors Amosa Amosa and Tumoana Kenessey. They won eight games for the first time since Amosa won nine in 2013. The Sabers took their share of beatings in the new Open Division, causing their points per game to slip from 26.7 in 2017 to 25.1 this year and the points allowed per game to rise from 19.9 to 24.9. Johnson is the only coach to take three different schools to the state tournament and will be looking to win it all for the first time next year. His club nearly gave up as many points as it allowed but squeezed three wins over .500 out of it. The last Campbell coach to do that was Darren Hernandez in 1995 when the Sabers were actually outscored but finished 6-3-1. Johnson has had only two losing seasons in his 12 years as a head coach. The last time he had a third year at a school he took Kailua from 3-5 to 10-1 in 1998 and nearly doubled the team’s points scored.



The Sabers were almost impossible to scout with their rotating quarterbacks, getting 1,000-yard seasons from two of them. Krenston Kaipo played in three fewer games at quarterback than Kaniala Kalaola but outgained him in yardage 1,321-1,199. Kaipo was efficient enough with 13 touchdowns to 7 interceptions while Kalola struggled to a 10-10 split. Freshman Blaine Hipa further added to the confusion, throwing for 280 yards on 40 attempts. It is hard to argue with the platoon’s success, as Kaipo and Kalaola exceeded 2,500 yards together for the most since all-world Isaac Hurd threw for 2,565 in 2013. Kaipo was at his best against rival Kapolei, completing 19 passes of 26 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns without a pick on the Hurricanes’ field. He also had three-touchdown games against Hilo and Waianae and didn’t throw a pick in those games, either. Kaipo became the first player in school history to have 300-yard games in successive seasons after putting up 386- and 356-yard games last year and matched Lalo Respicio for the school record with three 300-yard games in a career.


For all of Johnson’s antics with the merry-go-round at quarterback, the other spot in the backfield was as stable as when he had Aofaga Wily in his days as Kahuku’s offensive coordinator. Sky Lactaoen was his guy this year, carrying the ball 172 times for 1,018 yards and 11 touchdowns. The rest of the backfield had a combined 158 carries including quarterback sacks, but the Sabers often gave Lactaoen a break near the goal line with seven different players rushing for touchdowns. Peter Manuma served as Lactaoen’s backup, gaining 231 yards on 42 carries, until he moved to defense at linebacker to replace Tyrese Tafai. There really was no reason to veer from Lactaoen, as he averaged 5.9 yards per carry and the most yards since Terrell Johnson gobbled up 920 yards in Amosa’s run-and-shoot scheme in 2014. Lactaoen had six games over the century mark, matching Mapu Malupo in 2002, Clifford Russell in 1996 and Isaac White in 1994 for the most in school history. Lactaoen’s biggest game came off the island in a visit to Arizona to beat O’Conner, carrying the ball just 13 times for 154 yards and a touchdown. His best game against an Oahu team was his workhorse effort against Punahou when he accepted the ball 27 times and ran up 147 yards and two scores. Lactaoen didn’t seem to benefit from the extra workload, averaging 6.6 yards per carry in games when he had 15 or fewer attempts and 5.2 when he had 16 or more.


Campbell got a steal with its transfers from Kapolei, led by Titus Mokiao-Atimalala‘s 75 catches for 1,385 yards and 14 scores and buoeyed by Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala‘s 36-475-4 line. Add in 35 catches for 494 yards in part-time duty on offense by Pokii Adkins-Kupukaa and the Sabers had three targets that gave opposing coaches fits. Titus Mokiao-Atimalala had eight games this year with more than 100 yards receiving, obliterating the school’s career record of five held by Jayce Bantolina. Titus Mokiao-Atamalala had two breakout games, the first for 10 catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns at Mililani and a 10-164-2 line on his old home field at Kapolei. He never broke teammate Adkins-Kupukaa’s record 204-yard game against Farrington last year, but his effort against the Trojans was fifth-most in school history, behind only Adkins-Kupukaa, Samson Anguay, Bantolina and Kela Noda, and his play against Kapolei comes up seventh on the list.


Campbell threw its only shutout of the season at Kapolei, beating the Hurricanes 28-0 and followed it up by limiting Waianae to seven points. Campbell shut out an opponent for the third straight year, the first time that has happened since 2002-05. The Sabers held the Hurricanes to just 126 passing yards by three different quarterbacks and bottled up Ezekiel Waiolama and his crew to 32 rushing yards. Campbell forced Kapolei into four three-and-outs and cost itself another one with an illegal substitution penalty. The biggest performance came from Kaipo Enos-Ho, who picked off Kapolei twice aided by a ferocious pass rush.

>> Darren Johnson is 15-10 in his two season as Campbell head coach and 88-45-1 in 12 seasons overall with three schools (Kailua, Kaimuki).

>> QB Krenston Kaipo finished fifth and QB Kaniala Kalaola was seventh in the Open Division in passing yards.
>> RB Sky Lactaoen finished second in the Open Division in rushing yards.
>> WR Titus Mokiao-Atimalala finished first in the Open Division in receiving yards.

>> WR Titus Mokiao-Atimalala (6-1, 160), DB/WR Pokii Adkins-Kupukaa (6-0, 175), WR Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala (5-9, 170), RB/LB Peter Manuma (6-0, 160), QB Blaine Hipa (6-0, 170), LB Jeremiah Tauai (6-1, 195), DE/LB JL Lavea (6-1, 225), RB Sky Lactaoen (5-9, 170), LB Tyrese Tafai (5-11, 205).


Krenston Kaipo981-143-71,32113
Kaniala Kalaola1289-197-101,19910
Blaine Hipa215-40-32804
Pokii Adkins-Kupukaa131-1-0600
Sky Lactaoen121721,01811
Peter Manuma10422311
Kaniala Kalaola1245901
Cameron Sloan312370
Chasen Torres511371
Jacob Covington35190
Pokii Adkins-Kupukaa132130
Blaine Hipa2260
Viliami Vaimoui2350
Tyrese Tafai6241
Pookela Piilani10111
Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala136-60
Krenston Kaipo916-201
Titus Mokiao-Atimalala13751,38514
Pokii Adkins-Kupukaa13354947
Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala13364754
Jalen Henderson7142501
Christian Quiambao8121250
Zavier Ceruti22260
Chasen Torres51241
Viliami Vaimoui22210
Sky Lactaoen125190
Pookela Piilani101160
Disen Heu-Aragaki1280
Peter Manuma101-20
Campbell’s Sky Lactaoen finished second in the Open Division in rushing yards. Photo by George F. Lee/Star-Advertiser.
Campbell’s defense made a bunch of physical plays in a dominating win over Hilo to start the season on Saturday. Photo by Jordan Fong/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Campbell’s JL Lavea celebrated after making a tackle against Hilo. Photo by Jordan Fong/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Campbell receiver Titus Mokiao-Atimalala finished with the third-most receiving yards in a season in state history. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.
Campbell quarterback Krenston Kaipo looked to pass in the first half against Mililani earlier this season. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.
Campbell’s Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala was forced out of bounds just shy of the goal line by Kamehameha’s Manaiakalani Wolfgramm (25) during a game. Photo by Darryl Oumi/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Campbell’s Tyrese Tafai delivered a hit on Farrington’s Raymond Millare. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Campbell defenders Isaiah Cabel-Tivao (15) and Taelase Gaoteote (44) drove Punahou Sitiveni Kaufusi (4) into the ground. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
Campbell teammates slapped hands with Pokii Adkins-Kupukaa after he scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter against Kahuku. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.
Campbell’s Kaipo Enos-Ho broke up a pass against Kapolei. Jamm Aquino / Star-Advertiser


  1. ILH November 21, 2018 12:44 pm

    I just was hoping someone could shed some light on the QB situation and why it was the way it was this season.

  2. Aesop Fables November 21, 2018 5:16 pm

    Eeny, meeny, miny, moe,
    Catch a QB by the toe.
    If he screams, let him go,
    My OC told me to pick the one,
    Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

    I don’t think he knows either.

  3. LoseMunnay November 21, 2018 8:17 pm

    Lose munnay

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