Farrington-Kailua preview (extended)

(Here’s an extended version of this morning’s preview of the Farrington-Kailua game. I wrote a little too long for the print version, but here’s the story with extras.)

For the team in maroon, it’s all about poundage at the line of scrimmage.

Farrington is off to a scintillating start and Tyler Taumua is having one of the best junior seasons of any running back in recent memory.

For the team in blue, things just might be turning around. When the Kailua Surfriders prepared for the football season, optimism was high. Quarterback Kahaku Iaea was back for his junior year, one year removed from a 16-touchdown, 2,131-yard performance. A veteran offensive line would be the anchor. Factor in some talented transfers from Kaiser, and the Surfriders were on the verge of a surge to the elite level of prep football.

Instead, Kailua (1-3) is still finding its way, and Farrington stands next in line. The teams battle tonight at Roosevelt’s Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium.

“This is another huge test for us,” Kailua coach Gary Rosolowich said. “We’ve had turnovers offensively. Our pass protection hasn’t been what it was at this point last year, so we hope we’ve fixed that.”

The opportunity to improve, qualify for the playoffs and reach potential is there for Kailua and a number of young teams in the Oahu Interscholastic Association this year. Not so long ago, Leilehua went 3-3 in the regular season, then went on to win the state crown?

For Kailua, which is 1-1 in league play, the timing is still better than good in a year when most powerhouse teams are rebuilding with youthful new players. There are just a few exceptions. Among them is Farrington, which is off to a 2-0 start in OIA Red play, 4-0 overall, and a No. 2 ranking in the Star-Advertiser Top 10.

While the offense improves week by week, a defense led by linemen John Vave (6-4, 280), Joe Pelesasa (6-0, 251) and Jeremiah Taleni (6-0, 290) has held down the fort.

“We’ve played a very tough schedule and our defense has played very well,” Rosolowich said. “The key guys have been our D-line. They have played tremendously.”

The Governors brought back a physically dominant offensive line of their own: the “Bamboolas.” They have paved the way for what could become a record-breaking season for running back Tyler Taumua.

Knocked out for most of last season by injury, Taumua is having an epic performance for an offense with a first-year starter at quarterback. The numbers tell the story:

>> 129 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries against Kamehameha

>> 216 yards and three touchdowns on 25 attempts against ‘Iolani

>> 228 yards, three touchdowns on 12 carries against Kaiser

>> 215 yards, three touchdowns on 23 attempts against Castle

With 788 rushing yards, the junior is averaging 197 per game. At this rate,Taumua would surpass all of last year’s top rushing performances statewide before the OIA playoffs.

Govs coach Randall Okimoto, one of the school’s greatest running backs ever, has kept Taumua’s workload relatively light. Even with the 79 carries in four games, the ball has been distributed to several other backs in Farrington’s smashmouth attack out of a West Coast set.

“He probably could handle more carries, but the games we were in, the game was in hand,” Okimoto said. “I know thinking back to last year, when he came up as a sophomore, I thought he could possibly be one of the best backs in Farrington history. He’d have three years under his belt, all those yards under his belt. But he got hurt.”

Okimoto is a fan.

“His cutback ability and his vision, I’ve seen him hurdle two guys in the past game. To be able to do that at top speed, you have to be able see that,” Okimoto added. “It brought be back to some good memories back when we were playing.”

In the win over Castle, Tavale Masalosalo, Jacky Anakalea, Abraham Silva and Setefano Lavatai combined for 35 carries and 198 yards.

The blueprint for Farrington’s success over the years has remained consistent: power football. It works well with a two-fold dividend: accentuating the district’s wealth of athletic, powerful athletes, and grinding out the clock. That’s a winning recipe against passing teams that hit a snag in the game plan.

The Govs have a solid track record this fall against opposing passers. In fact, no team has had success by air or ground so far.

>> Kamehameha: passing 18-33-1-147; rushing 28 attempts, 67 yards

>> Iolani: passing 11-30-1-71; rushing 15 carries, 84 yards

>> Kaiser: passing 7-23-1-57; rushing 19 carries, 29 yards

>> Castle: passing 13-37-4-172; rushing nine carries, minus-31 yards

That comes out to 112 passing yards per game on a combined 49-for-113 by opposing quarterbacks, with seven interceptions. Farrington’s foes have rushed for 37.3 yards per game.

The bottom line number: 41 points allowed, or 10.3 per game.

“We’re right where we want to be. There’s a lot of room for improvement,” Okimoto said. “Our seniors have been our leaders.”

Defensive back Daniel Prescott, linebacker Semo Sila and lineman Jarome Faamata have steadied a relatively inexperienced group.

Meanwhile, the Surfriders are coming off a lopsided win over Roosevelt. Iaea, who worked hard in the offseason to melt off 25 pounds and is now at 215, started strong. He passed for 305 yards and three touchdowns (35-for-51) against Kealakehe. Then came a long day against Punahou (14-for-38, 193 yards, three picks) and arguably the toughest defense in the state, Kahuku (19-for-35, 140 yards, two picks).

Kailua’s offense gained momentum last week against Roosevelt. Jarrin Young rushed for 106 yards. Kila Zuttermeister and Kaliko Kaimana hauled in touchdown passes, and Iaea finished with two touchdown tosses.

All of that potential, though, may not be realized if Farrington’s offense grinds out long, time-consuming drives.

Extra points: Last year’s top rushers were Chester Su‘a of Kaimuki (1,625 yards, 20 touchdowns), Jesse Carney of Kalaheo (1,463 yards, 16 touchdowns), Ikaika Gante of Anuenue (1,406 yards, 12 touchdowns), Victor Moananu of Waipahu (1,406 yards, 14 touchdowns), Zachary Payomo of Mililani (1,283 yards, 12 touchdowns), Aofaga Wily of Kahuku (1,175 yards, 17 touchdowns) and Solomon Dixon of McKinley (1,165 yards, 12 touchdowns). All but Wily graduated.

Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser


  1. Anonymous September 10, 2011 3:16 am

    when you dont provide equal coverage and photos of the two teams you are previewing… it could be considered a prejudice. My question to you in general Mr Honda, after following you for 7+ years is if you show preference? do you have your favorites? and definitely are there those teams you dont bother with? Too bad Kailuaʻs one of um. So much for unbiased reporting, hope you realize you impact players futures by your coverage, or should I say lack there of. 

    And yes Im a Kailua parent letting you know Im not pleased with your high school coverage. thanks

  2. Sione Lutu September 10, 2011 4:26 am

    probably gotta agree with 95 to have equal coverage on both teams, maybe highlight and talk about more of the strengths of the weaker apponent (kailua), but as an outsider farrington is making some noise and putting up some record setting numbers, the hype is what makes it more interesting to find out more about farrington…and that tends to leave the other team with less coverage. cant beat um all…

    …but this is the internet and reporters and media like mr honda are at the mercy of people like you and me. all you need to do mr 95football is go to all your kailua games and blog about it, you will then have more in depth info about kailua and followers can follow you, that puts big media in the hole.

    I know kahuku has a  guy on utube posting vid highlites after each game… www .  youtube.com/user/KahukuNation

    that right there is more info and coverage. we just need one guy from each school doing this and we can say screw you staradvertiser and your required subscription.

    love you mr honda…i just hate the SA

  3. Paul Honda September 24, 2011 4:39 pm

    I’m sorry for the slow response. Haven’t checked comments on Prep World in ages. OK, Anonymous, you asked about “prejudice” and “preference and “favorites.”

    I’m not sure why you feel this way, but I’m happy to hear you out if you get more specific. This is how coverage works. My editor asks me to rate the coming games each week. Then he decides which reporter goes where. Sometimes we have a lot of available reporters (when UH is not playing). Sometimes it’s just me (when UH is playing).

    If you feel I’ve played favorites, I’m sorry about that. In 21 years of covering high school sports here and on the Big Island, I’ve been just about everywhere to cover games, but I can only cover one game at a time.

    Here’s a specific response that you may understand better. Since our reporters live in different areas of the island, often my editor will assign games closest to where they live. The editor will send me anywhere (Kahuku, Waianae, etc.). But Kailua, Kalaheo and Castle games are normally assigned to one of our guys who lives in the area.

    When I do get to see Kailua play, come talk story with me. There are a LOT of questions I have for you in particular, after all I’ve heard about what happened in the past several months. We can talk on or off the record, up to you. But I’m looking forward to it and hearing exactly why you think I would have anything against anybody.

  4. Paul Honda September 24, 2011 4:48 pm

    Sione, no question about Kahuku Nation. I love the videos. Nephi is doing unreal work for Kahuku fans. Yup, I subscribe to his YouTube channel. It’s MUST SEE!

    Another note, please realize that “big media” today is not what it was years ago. We’re a solid, but small crew at the newspaper. I’m there at games doing what I do, nothing extraordinary. I take my play-by-play notes, do my stats, shoot my video, do my interviews, write my story on deadline. The Internet age has made everything so much more interesting and far more INTERACTIVE for everyone, not just athletes and media. The lines are blurred and that’s a good thing.

    All in all, the more coverage for the kids, the better. I’ve always believed this and always will. One person can make a huge difference. I know there are a lot of people who can make more of a difference everywhere. Just a matter of doing it!

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