Coaches Corner: Comparisons of Waipahu RB Alfred Failauga to Marshall Faulk and more

Waipahu's Alfred Failauga has respect from coaches across the state. Photo by Dennis Oda/Star-Advertiser.

In many ways, he is just a kid from Waipahu who likes Fortnite, hanging out with friends and tries to keep on top of his academics.

In the eyes of coaches around the OIA and ILH, Alfred Failauga is a creature who is capable of destroying the most well-crafted game plan. Failauga is the state’s all-time leading rusher with 5,549 yards in 37 games. He ranked seventh coming into the season, and in seven games played so far, he is averaging 31 carries and 233 yards per game on the ground as a senior.

This fall, Failauga passed Kama Bailey of Damien (3,930), Mark Atuaia (4,156) and Aofaga Wily (4,205) of Kahuku, then Joe Igber of ‘Iolani (4,428) and Vavae Malepeai of Mililani (4,549). It is often an interesting debate. Has Failauga faced the kind of competition that the previous record-setters did? Many of them did play against a mix of Division I and D-II opponents. In 2019, Waipahu has already battled against four Top 10 teams in its inter-league schedule. In preseason, he rushed for 234 yards on 24 carries against Waianae of the Open Division.


He is also closing the game in career touchdowns. Failauga has 60 TDs, trailing Malepeai, who scored 71 TDs in the same number of games, 37, against top-tier competition.

Single-season marks are also within Failauga’s grasp. He is closing in on the mark of 2,377 yards (in 10 games) set by Atuaia in 1990. The single-season rushing TD mark is held by Farrington’s Randall Okimoto, also in ’90. He scored 33 TDs behind the rumbling “Bamboolas” offensive line.

Failauga and his teammates haven’t faced a full Open Division slate, but the durability and talent are legitimate. Coaches who have faced Waipahu responded to these questions:

>> On game day, was he what you expected when you and your staff scouted and studied film, or different?

>> Does he remind you of any other RB at the prep, college or pro level?

>> How do you project his future?

John Hao, Castle
Two-time Oahu Prep Bowl championship QB (Saint Louis)
Played QB at Hawaii, pro league in Europe
Third season as Castle head coach

“Yes, he was everything that we expected. He outran his blocks and made my guys miss tackles. We knew that would be hard to stop, but his quick decision-making on the fly made him stand above the rest. He reminds me of Marshall Faulk when I played at Hawaii. He has the potential to play in the NFL if his college career takes off. He has plenty potential to be a great athlete.”

Wendell Look, ‘Iolani
Eight-time D-II state champion
In 27th season as head coach

“Yes, and more. The more he carries the ball, the stronger he gets. He is a combination of Eric Dickerson and Marcus Allen. Hard, tough runner with elusiveness and speed. He has a bright future at the next level.”

Kaeo Drummondo, Hilo
2017 Division I state champion
2018 D-I runner-up, lost to Waipahu in final

“When we played last year he was as special in person as he had appeared in the scout film that we watched. He’s one of those athletes that you just have to enjoy because they don’t come around every year.

“Interestingly, Alfred reminds me of another individual who we competed against (in 2015) and the individual who he passed for the all-time state rushing record, Vavae Malepeai (now starting at USC). Both runners are just so smooth and fluid. They possess a natural patience but are quick to burst once they see the hole. Both were durable workhorses who have quickness, speed, power and elusiveness. Although they competed in different divisions both are/were great running backs that you just need to appreciate.

“I think if his focus and passion is set on continuing his playing career in college it’ll be a bright future. He has all the tools to be productive as a runner and pass catcher out of the backfield. Hopefully, if an offer hasn’t come yet it does soon because he deserves it.”

Eddie Klaneski, Damien
Former Hawaii defensive back
2003 D-II state runner-up
2017 D-I state runner-up
Ninth season as Damien head coach

“On game day he was kind of what we expected. But it’s still tough to defend him because he is a very unique runner. I’m not sure who I would compare him to because his abilities are tough to match. He hardly ever, if at all, gets driven back. But he is also very fast, quick and powerful all at the same time. He can cut on a dime. And get vertical at full speed. 

“Hopefully someone takes a chance on him cause he is a very good, every down back. His size may turn people away from offering him a scholarship, but he is very capable.”


  1. Falcon Future October 1, 2019 10:54 am

    At least some of the truths is coming out that this kid is not even close to qualifying for a D1 college. That’s a shame. I hope Waipahu HS takes some learning from this and gets their coaches and counselors up to speed on helping these kids out starting from freshman year because this kid was on track to be a D1 college player since his freshman year.

    It also doesn’t make any sense that a kid like this can have a 4.0 GPA and at the same time not coming close to qualifying for SAT scores. The kid probably went through his first three years of high school thinking he was a straight A student then went into the SAT test and had no clue. This is not a good reflection of Waipahu HS to be giving out 4.0 GPAs so easy.

  2. ILH October 1, 2019 11:36 am

    Where you getting your info from??
    Not saying its wrong. Just genuinely interested in hearing more.

    So has a 4.0 GPA??

  3. kapakahi October 1, 2019 11:48 am


    > 4.0 this quarter. Overall, cumulative 3.0

    If you had never played sports, would your GPA be lower or higher?
    > It would be lower. Sports motivated me in the way of us having grade checks. I would have been that Fortnite player, go home, sleep, wake up and play the game.

    What is the motivation to getting a 4.0 this quarter?
    > Staying on top of myself, being able to manage myself as a student-athlete, making sure my grades can fit the college I want to go to.

    I’ve taken the ACT and the SAT once. I’m taking the SAT one more time in October.

    Do you think you’d have offers if you had a cumulative 4.0?
    > Yep, obviously. My counselors are doing a good job of making me understand how the sliding scale works. If our GPA is higher, our SAT can be lower.

    Do you have a backup plan if you don’t get to a four-year school?
    > I would probably become a construction worker with my dad. Just support the family. Honestly, if you’re going to a JC or D-II or D-III, for me it’s kind of a waste of time. You’re going to another two years of school to try to get that D-I scholarship. It’s not a waste of time, but I don’t really have that much time for that. I believe I could be at the D-I (FBS) level, but it’s God’s plan.

    Would you be willing to go to a FCS school?
    > I would, depending on the situation.”

  4. ILH October 1, 2019 1:00 pm

    Thanks kapakahi.

    Thats really sad. All or nothing.

  5. SASA October 1, 2019 2:04 pm

    play in the open division!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Falcon Future October 1, 2019 2:09 pm

    I guess he still has one more chance at SAT and I am rooting for him. I seen this kid play and he is a legit RB who has college talent.

    I don’t put all the blame on this kid for being in his situation. He needed more support and guidance to be college ready. I blame the school for that.

    It is stories like this that make so many parents want to send their kids private school whether they are athletes or not. What would be the chances of a kid at Iolani or Punahou having a 3.0 overall GPA, 4.0 as a senior, and not even close to qualifying for SAT scores for college?

  7. Whhy October 1, 2019 6:55 pm

    If you can get free JuCo then do it. You make almost same money working with a Associates as you do a Bachelors in many cases. Then only having to scholarship you for 2 years your much more attractive to D1 Coaches. Right now it’s hard to look at someone who isn’t already taking care of grades or not doing well on SAT/ACT.

  8. kapakahi October 1, 2019 7:36 pm

    Unfortunately some of the most talented local HS players (Waianae HS RB/SS Chris Paogofie; Waianae HS LB George Kauwalu; Kahuku RB Mulivai Pula; Saint Louis DL Tolifili “Andre” Liufau) all never made it to the next D1 level because of academics.

    Paogofie, Kauwalu, Pula & Liufau all went the JC route…..but never qualified to transfer to a D1 program. It’s even tougher nowadays going the JC route……with most of the Arizona JCs shutting down their football programs……student-athletes having to get an AA with a cumulative 2.5 GPA in order to qualify to transfer to a D1 program.

  9. Waipahu 94 October 1, 2019 7:43 pm

    Falcon Future – you have no idea what you are talking about. Blame the school….hahhaha good one. This kids have all the opportunity in the world at Waipahu High. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t force it to drink.

  10. kapakahi October 1, 2019 10:11 pm

    Hopefully Waipahu HS ’19 LB Fiva Tulafale will be academically eligible to enroll into a D1 program. Just guessing that academics might be a factor as to why Fiva currently doesn’t have more D1 scholarship offers (beyond UH, Arizona & Nebraska).

  11. ILH October 2, 2019 10:05 am

    A recent comment mentioned that a fair amount of kids with a GPA below 2.0 participated in the state tournament last year.
    Also, several kids that graduated last season couldnt qualify for college.
    Countless kids are ineligible at the beginning of the season every year.

    I would be wary of whats in that water or even the trough holding the water. Too much incidents to overlook that the system may support winning now and not for the long term.
    How does such a talented kid like this, feel as if his only options are D1 or go work construction??

    If I was a college coach reading his interview article, I would be turned off by it. it had too much of an entitlement feel to it. My opinion, I know , but for someone whos hunting, wouldn’t you keep your media exposure mildly safe?? Would a coach want to take risk with a player, who’s had 2 years to qualify and still hasnt, speaking candidly in the press on how he would rather not go to school at all if he doesnt get what he wants?? This is not a dig on the kid but rather the adults around him in prepping him for success. Or was that the strategy? To hope that a coach will feel sympathy? I guess, but it could work the other way too.

    I hope the best for the player and that he gets an opportunity to earn a college degree.

  12. Falcon Future October 2, 2019 11:00 am

    @Waipahu 94, I will agree to disagree with you and still place blame on the school.

    Think about this … Waipahu has been a pretty good football program with decent size and talent for the past few years. They always have some college prospects every year. But guess what? Waipahu has ZERO players at UH and ZERO players in other D1 college teams right now.

    Here’s a stat that should make Waipahu take notice: 12 of the 13 OIA teams from Open and D1 has at least one player currently playing D1 college at either UH or a mainland college.

    The one OIA Open/Division 1 school that doesn’t have any D1 college players right now? You guessed it … Waipahu.

    It looks like all the other schools are leading their kids to water and teaching them how to drink it too.

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