Connecticut’s Taft School bonded with Govs

Farrington's Malik Lokeni celebrated a touchdown during Saturday's 28-7 home win over No. 5 Kapolei. Players and coaches from Taft School in Connecticut practiced against Farrington on Thursday and attended Saturday's game. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

A private college preparatory school football team from Connecticut had the trip of a lifetime last week in Hawaii.

The only downside is that Taft School of Watertown, Conn., didn’t get to play a real game. Instead, they held five practices, including one at Farrington alongside the Governors.

Football teams from the New England area don’t start as early as teams from Hawaii, so the practices in Hawaii were the Big Red’s first official workouts of the season.

Taft originally scheduled a game for Aug. 26 against No. 1 Saint Louis, but opted out of that game.

“We didn’t think it was a good idea to play against a team that had been practicing for a month (with a few games under their belts) when we had only just started practicing,” Big Red coach Tyler Whitley said via a phone interview Tuesday.

The Connecticut team attended unranked Farrington’s 28-7 victory over No. 5 Kapolei on Saturday night. That win by the Governors vaulted them back into the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10 at No. 7 and dropped Kapolei to a tie at No. 8.

“That was an excellent game to watch,” Whitley said. “And it’s great to see that football is a huge part of people’s lives in Hawaii. Everyone goes to the games. All the grandmas go to the games.”

As for Whitley’s opinion of Farrington as a practice partner, he said, “They have some great, tough players who play physically and are so focused. And then when all the hitting is done, they’ll come up and give you a big hug.

“We had dinner with them Thursday night and all the players had some fun at a sing-along and a dance-off.”

Thirty-four of Taft’s 45 football players plus coaches and staff made the trip.

According to Whitley, the University of Hawaii has shown an interest in two of his players — wide receiver Eric Rooks, who is from Chicago, and two-way lineman Matthias Staalsoe, who is from Denmark.

Both players received scholarship offers from UH while on the trip and Rooks committed on Friday.

Taft’s athletic teams compete against other private college prep schools and not against public high schools. In the New England states, there are two different sets of eligibility rules between the private prep schools and the public high schools, including the fact that athletes from the private prep schools can return after graduation for one more year of competition.

After Saturday’s game, Farrington defensive back Chasen Castilliano gave props to the Big Red, who he said did a great job getting them ready to play the visiting Hurricanes.


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