Former Kapolei QB Lonenoa Faoa returns for Aloha Football Classic

Liberty assistant coach Chad Kapanui, middle, flashed shakas with defensive back Ikalewa Paaoao, left, and quarterback Lonenoa Faoa during a walk-through practice on Thursday at Kapiolani Park. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Liberty’s iron schedule has barely begun.

The football team from Henderson, Nev., with a pile of Hawaii connections, is 0-1, having lost to Chandler (Ariz.) 31-17 last Friday.

That’s one out-of-state opponent. The Patriots — the second-ranked team in Nevada behind Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) — play four more from other states in successive weeks.


Next up is Mililani, Hawaii’s No. 2-ranked team in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Football Top 10, on Friday night at John Kauinana Stadium. At the same time in the two-game, two-site Aloha Football Classic, Hawaii’s No. 1-ranked team (Saint Louis) goes up against Bishop Gorman at Aloha Stadium.

Three big-name schools follow on the Liberty schedule — St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) in Las Vegas on Sept. 6, Centennial (Corona, Calif.) at home on Sept. 13, and Liberty (Peoria, Ariz.) at home on Sept. 20. That’s all before the Patriots’ league schedule begins.

Previously, two Liberty players played some high school ball in Hawaii. Lonenoa Faoa, a senior quarterback, is from Ewa Beach and played for Kapolei two seasons ago. Also, sophomore cornerback Ikalewa Paaoao played for Saint Louis as a slotback a year ago.

Faoa started at QB for Liberty in 2018, but injured his knee.

“He came back in July and fell a little bit behind the other kid (senior Kanyon Stoneking),” Patriots coach Rich Muraco said Thursday evening while the team was doing a walk-through at Kapiolani Regional Park. “If Kanyon struggles, we have 100-percent confidence with ‘Noa.”

Faoa is more than ready to play, if needed.

“It will be a great feeling because my family will all be there,” Faoa said. “All my games last year were in Nevada. Mililani (3-0, 3-0 OIA Open) is always a tough team and they’ve got a great coaching staff.”

Faoa is friends with many Campbell and Mililani players who he played with in youth football, including Sabers receiver Titus Mokiao-Atimalala, defensive back Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala, and linebacker Tyrese Tafai, and Trojans linebackers Bam Amina, Wynden Hoohuli, Muelu Iosefa and Sonny Semeatu, and offensive lineman Sergio Muasau.

“I’m always ready go to in,” Faoa said. “For now, I’m supporting Kanyon and helping him with whatever he needs.”

Chad Kapanui, the former University of Hawaii and Roosevelt standout, is Liberty’s offensive coordinator. Also, Patriots defensive coordinator Kaipo Batoon, who played for Saint Louis, is the brother of University of Hawaii defensive coordinator Corey Batoon.

In addition, many Liberty players played their youth football in Hawaii before moving to Nevada for high school. Almost too many to count, according to Kapanui.


“All I’ve been hearing (from the Hawaii connections) is ‘My family is coming, my family is coming, my family is coming,’ ” Kapanui said. “We’re going to have a lot of people coming to cheer us on at that game.

“I’ve seen some (family) already and hopefully will see the rest of them in the next couple of days. Half of the University of Hawaii coaching staff are guys I played with in college. They’re all my brothers. It’s always good to come home and see my UH brothers.”

Another coach on the Liberty staff, Justin Clark, played in the 1990s for Honokaa before suiting up for UNLV.

“I’ve been telling the boys, ‘You better strap it up’ because those Hawaii boys are going to bring it,” said Clark, who has been a defensive backs coach for the Patriots for 13 years. “That’s just the way football is played in Hawaii. I know, though, that the players already know it’s not going to be a picnic and that it’s a business trip because we’ve played so many big games nationally. But it’s a different style of football in Hawaii than it is in other places and I want them to know that.”

Some Liberty players arrived Wednesday and others flew in on Thursday. They went through Thursday’s practice and they will return to Nevada on Sunday night.

“A lot of the kids brought their families from Nevada here,” Muraco said. “They’ll all be doing their different things on Saturday and Sunday. I’ve got my family here and we’ll be ziplining.”

Kapanui is the only one in his family who moved away, and he calls Nevada home now.

“I don’t see me coming back to live unless I’m coaching college or retired one day,” he said. “I love it in Vegas. It’s home. It is the ninth island, so I don’t feel very far away. I have family members who come up every other week.”

ALOHA FOOTBALL CLASSIC
Friday, Aug. 30
>> Liberty (Henderson, Nev.) at Mililani, 7 p.m.
>> Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) vs. Saint Louis, at Aloha Stadium, 7:30 p.m.

NATIONAL RANKINGS
Bishop Gorman
>> 2019 USA Today Super 25: No. 13
>> 2019 Max Preps Xcellent 25: No. 15
>> 2019 High School Football America: No. 22
———
>> 2018 USA Today Super 25: NR
>> 2018 Max Preps Xcellent 25: NR
>> 2018 High School Football America 100: No. 42

Saint Louis
>> 2019 USA Today Super 25: No. 12
>> 2019 Max Preps Xcellent 25: No. 11
>> 2019 High School Football America 100: No. 35
———
>> 2018 USA Today Super 25: No. 12
>> 2018 Max Preps Xcellent 25: No. 7
>> 2018 High School Football America 100: No. 32


Liberty
>> 2019 USA Today Super 25: NR
>> 2019 Max Preps Xcellent 25: NR
>> 2019 High School Football America 100: No. 93
———
>> 2018 USA Today Super 25: NR
>> 2018 Max Preps Xcellent 25: NR
>> 2018 High School Football America 100: NR

Mililani
>> 2019 USA Today Super 25: NR
>> 2019 Max Preps Xcellent 25: NR
>> 2019 High School Football America 100: NR
———
>> 2018 USA Today Super 25: NR
>> 2018 Max Preps Xcellent 25: NR
>> 2018 High School Football America 100: NR

COMMENTS

  1. Protectors not Protesters August 30, 2019 3:17 pm

    All Ewa Beach Saber Boys . Also Malosi Sam, Zack Orozco and Mystic Sampaga who also plays for Mililani. Talented group right there. Noa is related to the Mokiao-Atimalala Brothers. I could only imagine if they all played together for Campbell, but they are doing great where ever their at.


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