The numbers are borderline preposterous, reflecting a human being who somehow carried the ball this many times — 940 to be exact — over a four-year span for an astronomical number of yards.
Alfred Failauga’s high school football career came to an end on Friday night, undoubtedly too early in the eyes of Waipahu Marauder fans near and far. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back finished a bruising effort against No. 7 Leilehua with 112 yards on 31 carries. The Mules won 13-7, advancing to the OIA Division I final and securing a state-tournament berth. It was the finale for Hawaii’s all-time leading rusher, who finishes with 1,246 more yards than Mililani great Vavae Malepeai.
“We know who’s going to get the ball and he’s a just a truck, man. He’s a tough kid to bring down,” Mules coach Mark Kurisu said. “He’s a great talent he had a great career and he should continue it at the next level.”
At times Failauga was swarmed by seven or eight tacklers on the edge, in the gaps, in the backfield. Always, he refused to go down quietly. There was stretch in the latter moments of first half when he had five carries and four of them were for losses or just one yard.
Leilehua’s masterful defensive unit, under Kurisu, did all it could. In pre-snap, they lined up here and there, switching places, always a bunch of moving targets.
Failauga still attacked, and as a wildcat QB for a part of the second half, he got more openings. But one man can only take so many hits. The moment he took a breather Waipahu turned the ball over — again. It was that kind of night for the Marauders, the defending D-I state champions.
Without the dominant defense and plenty of youth on both sides of the ball, they turned often to Failauga, who finished the 2019 season with 1,876 yards and 19 TDs on the ground. He finished with 280 rushing attempts, which trails Farrington back Randall Okimoto‘s 342 for most in a single season. The humble leader finished his career with 5,795 yards and 62 rushing TDs on 940 attempts.
He also had 40 receptions for 597 yards and three TDs in his career. Waipahu tried to air-mail the ball to him on Friday, but Leilehua was so stingy, they wouldn’t allow Failauga a single catch.
Waipahu coach Bryson Carvalho has known and coached Failauga since his days as a middle schooler, and when the resilient young kid from the neighborhood showed up for high school, he was 5-8 and 160 pounds.
“I’m super proud of him, how mature he is. I know he’s emotional. Everyone is, yet he’s the guy gathering everybody, making sure their heads are up, making sure their sports are good. It just speaks on his character, you know what I mean, what kind of person he is. I’ve been real blessed to have four years to coach him, and in youth league, to see him grow,” Carvalho said.
Failauga is awaiting the results of his first SAT. He plans to take it again if necessary in order to qualify for the NCAA Clearinghouse.
“I really hope a college picks him up,” Carvalho said. “We want to make sure he gets to the next level and continues to represent our community and our school, and his family.”
> All-time rushing yards leader
> No. 2 rushing attempts leader (behind Randall Okimoto, Farrington, 1990)
> No. 5 all-time single game rushing yards (342 vs. Castle, 2019)
> Personal-high 41 carries (298 yds, 2 TD) vs. ‘Iolani
2016, 11 gm (D-II)
> WAIP lost to WAIL in OIA D-II final. Lost to LAH D-II state tourney
Rush 225 att 1,259 yd (5.6 npc) 12 TD
Rec 22 rec 346 yd 2 TD
2017, 10 gm (D-II)
> WAIP lost at Konawaena in D-II semifinal
Rush 216 att 1,495 yd (6.9 npc) 21 TD
Rec 6 rec 76 yd 0 TD
2018, 9 gm (D-I), missed 5 games.
> WAIP wins D-I state title.
Rush 219 att 1,165 yd (5.3 ypc) 10 TD
Rec 6 rec 73 yd 0 TD
2019, 9 gm (D-I), missed 1 game
> WAIP loses OIA semifinal at Leilehua
Rush 280 att 1,876 yd (6.7 ypc) 19 TD
Rec 6 rec 102 yd 1 TD
TOTAL, 39 gm
Rush 940 att 5,795 yd 62 TD
Rec 40 rec 597 yd 3 TD