Although just a freshman, Waipahu running back Alfred Failauga is seasoned enough to appreciate the importance of sending credit to the guys up front.
Moments after finishing off a 37-carry, 194-yard performance against Kalani on Saturday, Failauga’s opening comments were directed toward the Marauder offensive line.
“I’d just like to thank my line for everything they do, Failauga said. “Without them I wouldn’t be anywhere.”
The Waipahu line cleared the way for Failauga to post the seventh highest single-game rushing total in school history and the Marauders clinched a top-two finish in the OIA Division II race with a 28-23 win over Kalani at Aiea.
Failauga entered the night averaging just over 18 carries and 96 yards in Waipahu’s first seven games. He had 20 in the first half on Saturday and went into the break with 119 yards and three touchdowns. Waipahu coach Bryson Carvalho called his number 17 more times in the second half and the Marauders managed to hold off a late Falcons rally to close the regular season at 6-1 in the division.
“It’s not normal at all, but … he’s just a special kid,” Carvalho said of Failauga’s ability to handle the work load as a freshman.
“He’s years ahead of his grade. He’s humble, he’s hard working. No one out-works Alfred. He leads the team in prayer, leads the team in sprints or conditioning and stuff like that. He’s just an all-around good kid and it’s just special to have him.”
It helps to have a veteran offensive line as well.
Senior guards Khaine Viliamu (6-foot-2, 296 pounds) and Ani Liugalua (6-3, 280) spent much of the night pulling ahead of Failauga and sealing off the edge for the freshman. Senior Richard Talaeai (6-0, 315) anchored the middle of the line with senior tackles Ethan Guevara (5-8, 220) and Alii Siu-Aelua (5-7, 230) on the perimeter.
“The good thing is the rest of the team look up to them and they follow their lead,” Carvalho said.
Failuaga certainly did on Saturday and the Marauders now have a week to rest up heading into the OIA D-II playoffs.
Waipahu has a week off while two games delayed by the threat of Hurricane Lester on Sept. 3 are played on Friday. The Marauders would finish as the top seed if Waialua (4-2) knocks off Pearl City (5-1). Kaimuki (5-2) also clinched a playoff berth with Kalani’s loss. The Falcons (3-3) close the season against McKinley on Friday.