Star-Advertiser Preseason Top 10 Countdown
Today: No. 7 Farrington
Following his freshman year at Farrington, Challen Faamatau debated the benefits of an early jump to varsity football.
“At first I wasn’t sure,” Faamatau said of moving up as a sophomore in 2014. “But then again I believe in myself and I told myself if I want to be the best I have to compete with the best no matter what age I am.”
He teamed with standout senior Ranan Mamiya to power a formidable ground attack and pounced on his opportunities by rushing for 798 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a 141-yard effort in a state tournament win over Maui.
“Competing at the varsity level my sophomore year helped a lot … getting to know the tempo, the sped of the game,” he said.
Along with getting up to speed on the field, being around a senior class that included Mamiya, Breiden Fehoko and Montana Liana provided lessons in leadership he’ll carry into his final season in maroon.
Heading into his senior year, Faamatau can sense the eyes focused on him on and off the field after rushing for 1,289 yards and 13 touchdowns on 207 carries last season as the Governors’ featured back.
“Growing up I’ve been told that you’re being watched no matter where you are,” Faamatau said, “You could be at a store or whatever, but adults are going to watch the way you act off the field.”
Faamatau attracted attention in camps over the spring and summer. He participated in the Nike Opening camp in Seattle in May and was named the top running back at the GPA Football Showcase held on the University of Hawaii campus in June. While Faamatau said schools such as Hawaii, Boise State, Washington and Washington State have shown interest, official offers won’t come until he takes the SAT in October.
In the meantime, he’s poised to again carry the load for the Farrington running game.
“Physically and mentally he’s grown,” Farrington coach Randall Okimoto said “He’s grown taller, he’s quicker. He’s done his work in the offseason. He’s a vocal leader as well. Guys listen to him.”
>> Like Faamatau, Freedom Alualu moved up to the varsity as a sophomore and carved out a role in the backfield as a fullback. Along with helping lead the way for Faamatau, Alualu picked up 252 yards and scored three touchdowns in his 49 attempts last season.
While slated to reprise that role again this season, Alualu is poised to contribute on defense as well at middle linebacker. Okimoto said Alualu’s presence on defense is much like that of Bryce Tatupu-Leopolodo, the Govs’ leader in the middle of the scheme two years ago.
>> Numbers don’t lie and in this case they speak to the initial impact Farrington’s new on-campus field.
Okimoto, now entering his 15th year as head coach, estimated the Governors would average of turnout of between 30 and 35 players for summer workouts in years past. This year, with the new playing surface ready for use, average attendance jumped to 55 on a regular basis.
“I know it’s the field,” Okimoto said. “People just enjoy coming to practice.”
Okimoto said the rest of the stadium is scheduled for completion in late December.
>> The Governors won’t have an official nonconference game prior to the start of the regular season but figure to be prepared by challenging run of preseason scrimmages, including a trip to Kahuku on Aug. 5.
Farrington opens OIA Red play Aug. 13 against Campbell at Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium.