Future is now for Campbell, Farrington frosh QBs

Two freshmen, Blaine Hipa of Campbell and Rjay Tagataese of Farrington, shared a moment together after shining at quarterback during the Sabers' 42-26 victory at Aloha Stadium on Friday night. Steven Erler / Special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Two promising freshmen quarterbacks emerged on the Hawaii football scene in the same game Friday night at Aloha Stadium.

Campbell’s Blaine Hipa was a surprise starter over senior Krenston Kaipo, and he delivered in a big way, throwing for 241 yards and four TDs in the Sabers’ 42-26 victory over Farrington.

On the opposing side, another ninth-grader — Rjay Tagataese — came in for senior starter Chris Afe-Alaivanu late in the second half. He guided the Governors to three TDs, including two scoring throws, to turn a 35-6 halftime deficit to a 35-20 game with 6:43 left.

What gives with two freshmen playing at the most important position in an elimination game this late in the season? Where did they come from?

Perhaps Darren Johnson, the coach of Campbell, said it best.

“You want to talk about two freshman quarterbacks playing good,” he said. “A lot of that praise and them being good is what JPS (Jr. Prep Sports youth football) has done for the state of Hawaii as far as integrating these kids and putting intermediate teams together. Both of these guys came out of great JPS programs and it actually shows. Man, it shows.”

Campbell’s Blaine Hipa looked for a receiver during the OIA Open third-place game Friday night. Campbell beat Farrington 42-26 at Aloha Stadium to clinch at state tournament berth. George F. Lee / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

With the victory, Campbell (8-4) placed third in the OIA Open Division and qualified for the state tournament. Farrington (2-10) is done for the season, but as coach Daniel Sanchez said, the Govs’ offseason program starts Monday.

“These quarterbacks are some real positives for both programs moving on,” Sanchez said. “They’re young and they’re going to get better, so there should be some shootouts in the future.”

Hipa, who is 6 feet and 170 pounds and came up from the JV squad recently, did not learn until Wednesday that he was going to start. According to Johnson, his son Kawe (the offensive coordinator) made the decision based on which of the team’s three quarterbacks (senior Kaniala Kalaola is the other one) was having the best week of practice.

“I just had to go out and play and not be scared,” Hipa said.
“My O-line was the biggest part. They supported me the whole week and today they had my back, making sure I was doing my job and making sure I was all right. My wideouts and running backs were making good plays.

“We gotta come back with a better performance (at states against the Mililani Trojans, who defeated Campbell 52-14 on Sept. 15). Everybody has gotta play to the best of their ability and we gotta make sure no one’s scared.”

Hipa watched Farrington come back and was a bit nervous.

“But knowing the defense was out there, I had trust in them that they weren’t going to give up a score. But, I did have that nervous feeling inside where I was hoping it didn’t happen.”

The Campbell coaches had enough trust in Hipa’s strong arm and accuracy — and poise — late in the game to let him continue throwing instead of falling into a conservative mode that may have allowed Farrington more chances.

With the score 35-20 and with the Governors holding a momentum edge, Hipa threw a third-down out pattern to Titus Mokiao-Atimalala. It was a 9-yard gain, but it led to Sky Lactaoen’s 3-yard gain for a first down on a fourth-down and 1 play with 5:56 left.

Right after that, Hipa threw a 23-yard pass to Mokiao-Atimalala, hitting him on the back shoulder down the left sideline to keep the chains moving. The drive ended in Jadon Arola‘s missed 34-yard field goal.

But fortunately for Campbell, sacks by Taelase Gaoteote and (on fourth down) by JL Lavea gave the Sabers the ball back deep in Govs territory. One more Hipa TD pass was followed by Tagataese TD pass to finish the scoring.

Afterward, Sanchez said he felt the Govs had to go for it on fourth and long instead of punting, and that Tagataese held on to the ball too long.

“Time (less than four minutes left) was running out,” he said. “He (Tagataese) didn’t trust what he saw. But he came in and gave us a spark. We were struggling in the first half and we needed to get Rjay into the game and maybe add some juice. He definitely did that.”

Said Tagataese, who showed some scrambling ability to go along with his accurate throws: “We came up short in the end, but as long as we worked together, I was glad to see that we still pushed through as a team. They gave me a shot and I took it. I know (Hipa) him from previous years in football. It was good to see him out there as well.

“It was a good feeling, coming back. We tried our hearts out and I’m proud of the boys. I’m looking forward to the next few years. This is only the beginning. There are more years to come and I’m excited about that.”


  1. ??? November 2, 2018 11:54 pm

    DJ said it best “JPS” is a big plus teaching kids and helping them learn & mature earlier.
    Back in the day the OIA couldn’t even have 7 on 7 pass leagues while the ILH could so the OIA was always a step behind. Now JPS, Pop Warner, 7 on 7 is helping kids develop.

  2. Buff N Blue November 3, 2018 7:19 am

    Welll the OIA has participated in pass league with the ILH for over 25 years and the OIA has had a thriving JV program during the last 2 decades while the ILH has had an unproductive 3 team JV league since 1999. The OIA has also permitted 9th graders to play varsity football since 1976 while the ILH did not allow this until last year, 42 years later. Moreover,most JPS teams are clearly linked to the OIA school in their district and the JPS coaches also coach the OIA counterpart; while this type of offseason coaching/play is prohibited by the ILH. So I’ll ask you Mr. ???, how is the OIA disadvantaged besides your tired “recruiting” whine that holds no water ???

  3. suspense November 3, 2018 9:12 am

    watched the game. both very poise and impressive. hope they both stay at their respective schools till they graduate.

  4. OMG November 3, 2018 11:40 am

    Out of curiosity, are these 9th grade QBs legitimate freshman who were born in 2004 or are they the “red-shirted” version similar to Sol Jay who was 16 as a 9th grader when most 16 year olds are classified as juniors? Just asking before the hype train leaves the station…..again.

  5. To Da Hale November 3, 2018 9:50 pm

    I doubt the Farrington QB is 14yrs old, but I could be wrong.
    He played on the same JPS all-star team with my son (a junior) a few years ago.

  6. ??? November 3, 2018 10:09 pm

    @Muff N Blue
    If it holds NO water then why do you guys continue to recruit?
    Take away Scholarships & Financial aid and see how good your teams really are? Imagine, NO Manti Te’o, Mosi Tatupu, DeForest Buckner etc..

    You’re right, JPS & oia now have the luxury to coach these kids at a young age but all for nothing because the ILH just steals the best ones before they reach high school !!
    Did that answer your ?

  7. Buff N Blue November 4, 2018 5:52 am

    ??? Muff N Blue that was good, painful but funny. Why do you assume that every good player in the ILH is on scholarship or financial aid. That’s totally false. Many good ILH players come from families who have the financial ability to pay their full tuition. Now if you’re hating on these players for having $$$ then that’s a whole other discussion. You make some good points on Punahou’s prior studs though and I actually recall that Buckner (who was very uncoordinated when he was in intermediate) attended STL briefly then Kale poached him. You seem to gloss over the fact that many OIA teams offer these ILH players something that Punahou and STL can’t offer…..and that’s playing time (Gabriel left Punahou bc it was apparent that he couldn’t beat out Nick Kapule etal). And make no mistake, the ILH poaches from within as well. But to equate what Punahou does to all other ILH schools is just unfair. STL almost closed down 4 years ago for financial reasons and most if not all players pay full price of their tuition while only a handful receive a partial scholarship that amounts to less than $2,500 per year (Verify with Russell Valente at STL). Iolani and Mid-Pac could care less whether the kid is a great athlete . Their admission is predicated on their academic ability to succeed in the classroom. So many OIA schools actually benefit from the Iolani and Mid-Pac academic casualties. Look at Kalaheo’s basketball championship teams who benefitted from so many ILH kids who fell through the academic cracks. Punahou’s “Bridge Program” supports your theory (at least academically). Did you get financial aid when you attended private school?

  8. OMG November 4, 2018 6:05 am

    Too many “9th” grade QBs getting hyped pre-maturely by their parents and unscrupulous coaches who seem to be more concerned about their QB breaking meaningless statistical records and getting scholarship offers without any concern for their social development or the team’s chemistry. The bigger farce, however, is the fact that many of these “phenoms” are held back 1 or 2 years or like STL up and coming 8th grade QB (3 years) and their propensity to improve is stagnated by the fact that they’ve actually peaked in 9th or 10th grade. The stigma of being held back is not worth it in my view. Class reunions will be particularly uncomfortable when all of their classmates are 28 at their 10th year reunion but these “phenoms” will have already turned 30. What’s up with that?

  9. Cane Fire November 4, 2018 11:59 am

    Well I hope that these two young men do well regardless of how old they are now. I’m impressed with their poise and composure in the face of good defensive play. Campbell won’t get pass Mililani.

  10. KalihiFB November 5, 2018 7:51 am

    Farrington’s future will be in the hands of QB Rjay Tagataese and as well as their new coaching staff which struggled in their first year. Although Farrington had a tough season, they have alot of potential to bounce back next year. The coaches just got instill the pride and tradition in Kalihi football. Coach Diaz and Espinda is looking down from above for a great season next year. Go GOVs!

  11. MilzFinest November 5, 2018 5:41 pm

    Does it matter how old these Quarterbacks are or if they are legit 9th graders? Who cares? Did you know Tua is really older than Jalen Hurts by 6 months? Yet he was presented to be the under dog younger QB. That is not the case. He was older than Jalen Hurts himself. He was really the real deal waiting for his turn. The point is who cares how old they are. If they got talent, like Tua and other Qbs from Hawai’i, they got that game. And they real beasts. Cheer them on regardless. Out of all the QBs out in Alabama Tua is the oldest one. So does that mean Tua is a hype? Yeah right, No Way. He is the real deal and one of the best in college ball. No doubt about that. So who care what the real age is. The real Question is can they ball? And the Answer is Yes!

  12. OMG November 6, 2018 3:31 am

    MilzFinsest. During the 1988 Vice Presidential debate, Republican Senator Dan Quayle began comparing himself to former President, John F. Kennedy and Lloyd Bentsen responded by famously saying “Senator you’re no Jack Kennedy”. Similarly, these 2 “young” QBs are no Tua Tagovailoa”. Stop the hype and catch up with the rest of the students who were born in 2002 before its too late!

  13. TooMeke 2 November 6, 2018 4:53 am

    Saying that age doesn’t matter in 9th grade is just ignorant MilzCop. In college or above everyone has fully matured but comparing a 14 year old to a 15 or 16 year old in 9th grade is huge. If they’re the real deal, then why were they held back (as To Da Hale suggests).? Honestly, would you be as impressed with either QB if they were juniors? Doubt it. Oh yea, comparing these guys to Tua is bhhaawaaaahah. No can RRFL.

  14. Education First 2.0 November 6, 2018 7:07 am

    It sounds like MilzFinest is a proud papa of a 16 year old freshman. By the way, Cheven Cordeiro is as old as Tua. I guess the ends justifies the means. Education First my friend.

  15. Smell Da Coffee November 6, 2018 7:41 am

    Forcing children to repeat a grade or two in order to gain an advantage in sports is nothing less than cheating. It also hurts the man-children in the long term while their potential and progress can be misleading and difficult to assess. I guess that’s why they don’t let 4 year olds race in the Kentucky Derby.

  16. Mama Charger November 6, 2018 1:47 pm

    MilzFinest sounds twisted. Win at all cost. He probably cheered for Danny Almante when N.Y. won the LL World Series. Aren’t you concerned about the integrity of the game or the safety of all players.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiprepworld@staradvertiser.com.