The Radford Rams are inching forward one win at a time. The Rams went 2-8 this year, twice as many as they earned in 2017 following a winless season in Lon Passos‘ debut in 2016.
The numbers are small, but the feat is large as the last time the Rams improved their win total for three straight years was from 2003-2005 in Fred Salanoa‘s first three years at the helm. They have never done it four years straight and it will only take three wins to do it next year.
The offense improved incrementally over last year, averaging 15.3 points per game after 14.7 the year before, but the greatest improvement has been on defense. The unit allowed 49 ppg two years ago when Passos took over, lowered it to 37 last year and this year chopped it down to 31.8.
Both units have improved in the last three years, and they did it while being in the middle division.
2018 BEST PERFORMANCES
Senior Hunter Copp was the gunslinger for the Rams this year, putting the ball up 271 times for 1,290 yards and seven touchdowns but was beset by 20 interceptions. He took care of the ball in an outstanding game at Castle in the middle of the season, completing 22 of 40 passes for 304 yards and two touchdowns and was intercepted only once. He was the first Radford quarterback to exceed 300 yards in a game since Andrew Morgan in 2014 against Waialua and became only the fifth Ram to reach the mark, joining Morgan, Epa Maika, Cody Lui-Yuen and Justin Lord.
DJ Alpha was the big dog for a potent rushing attack, gaining 363 yards and five touchdowns, but he had plenty of help from running mates Matai Suitonu and Dejuan James. Alpha showed off his skills at Nanakuli, carrying the ball 11 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns in the Valley, the top performance for a Radford back since state champion runner Kodi Ongory-Mathias slashed for 176 against Konawaena in the 2015 state tournament.
Copp didn’t have a favorite target among the receiving corps, with five players catching more than 20 passes and gaining over 200 yards. Carson Dean was probably the most effective of those options, hauling in 29 balls for 396 yards and four touchdowns, but Damon Nelson caught four more passes for 45 fewer yards. The most eye-popping game came from Emmanuel Stevenson in the Castle game, when he caught nine passes for 118 yards for the program’s first 100-yard game since Thomas Reid against Kapaa in the 2015 state title game. It was the most yards in a game since Reid went off for 135 in the semifinals that year.
Radford’s defensive numbers were helped immensely by their surprising shutout of Kailua in August. The Rams held the Surfriders to a negative performance rushing the ball and forced Kailua quarterbacks into a 10-for-24 night for 132 yards and an interception. Radford also came up with a fumble. It was Radford’s first shutout on the field (it won via forfeit over Kaiser in 2017) since Salanoa’s historically great defense blanked Waialua in 2015.
>> Lon Passos is 3-24 in three seasons.
>> QB Hunter Copp finished sixth in Division I in passing yards.
>> RB DJ Alpha finished ninth in Division I in rushing yards.
KEY UNDERCLASSMEN IN 2018
>> DB Maka’ala Sakimi, RB Kendall Saxton, WR Emmanual Stevenson, LB/RB DJ Alpha, RB Dejuan James, DL Menise Pase, WR Damon Nelson.
FINAL TEAM STATS