West Oahu has become quite the destination for visitors in recent years.
It’s also a hotspot for football transfers. The latest is Lonenoa Faoa, a quarterback who played for Bishop Gorman last season. He is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound sophomore, and he is athletic.
“Noa moved back to Hawaii this week,” Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said on Friday morning. “He’s a smart kid with a great skill set. He was present at practice yesterday (Thursday), but he hasn’t practiced (on the field) yet. He’ll officially start practicing today (Friday).”
Faoa passes the eye test easily. He’s has a quick release and a strong arm, according to onlookers at Kapolei practices. With the departure of record-shattering Taulia Tagovailoa in the offseason, junior Kaniala Kalaola transferred in from Saint Louis and already leads the state with 765 passing yards and eight TDs (with four interceptions).
“(Faoa) is going to compete with Kaniala. Having more competition at every position makes the whole team better,” Hernandez said.
Faoa has to meet the required 10-practice minimum before becoming eligible to play in games, Hernandez said. Kapolei plays at Farrington on Saturday and hosts Leilehua next week.
Hernandez and his staff have benefited from arrivals before. Kukea Emmsley, now a 6-5, 230-pound linebacker, transferred from Damien two seasons ago. Lineman Julius Buelow also left Damien and came to Kapolei in the offseason. Both are being recruited by colleges.
It has been quite an offseason for Kapolei, let alone any high school program. Offensive coordinator June Jones departed to become director of athletic development at Saint Louis, rejoining his former coaches Cal Lee and Ron Lee. Tagovailoa, who had hoped to transfer to Saint Louis, but could not due to transfer rules, moved to Alabama with his family to be near older brother Tua Tagovailoa, who now plays for the Crimson Tide.
A few days after Jones left, Hernandez hired former Campbell head coach Amosa Amosa as offensive coordinator.
The ‘Canes were unbeaten until the past weekend, when a win over Castle was reversed due to the use of academically ineligible players. Admission Day was not supposed to count as one of the days within a 10-day grade-check period, and the administration self-reported the infraction to the OIA, Hernandez said.
Kapolei is currently 2-1 overall, 1-1 in the OIA Red and ranked No. 5 in the Star-Advertiser Football Top 10.
(Note: The updated story clarifies that Faoa was present at practice, but doesn’t suit up for practice until today, Friday, Aug. 25, Hernandez said.)