Darren Johnson: Hawaii’s pylon teams were great in Nevada

Beast 808 got together for a team photo at the tournament in Mesquite, Nev. Photo courtesy of Tuli Tafai.

Campbell football coach Darren Johnson‘s team lost in the quarterfinals of the Pylon 7-on-7 National Championship Series Las Vegas in Mesquite, Nev., last weekend.

But he came home raving about how well all of Hawaii’s teams did in all age divisions. More than 100 teams participated in the tournament.

In the high school division, another Hawaii team, Tagiamanu — coached by former Oregon and University of Hawaii running back Tupu Alualu — defeated Johnson’s Beast 808 team in the quarters.

“The directors told me that was the fastest, highest scoring game in the whole tournament,” Johnson said. “The offense was so good, it looked like there was no defense.”

That game was the only loss for Beast 808, which is full of Campbell Sabers and Ewa players.

A Crusaders All-Blacks team also participated in the high school division as did 808 Breeze. Both squads were made up primarily of Saint Louis School players.

An All-Blacks squad won the elementary school division.

Among the other Hawaii teams in the high school division were Elite 808, Hawaii Academy, Mililani, Hilo, Pearl City and TMF.

TMF is coached by Johnson’s son, Kawe Johnson, a former Hawaii high school defensive player of the year at Kahuku.

“There were teams from Texas, Florida, Chicago, from all over,” Darren Johnson said.

In other news, Johnson is returning to coach the Campbell Sabers this fall, athletic director Rory Pico confirmed Wednesday.

Under the school’s new protocol, coaches in every sport are being asked to reapply for their positions. Johnson reapplied and will continue in his role. Others applied for the position as well, including Mililani defensive coordinator Vince Nihipali, according to sources.

Nihipali, a source said, also applied for the Waianae head coaching position, which was filled recently by Mike Fanoga, a former coach in the college ranks on the mainland.

Johnson is 15-10 in two seasons with the Sabers and took the school to the Open Division Semifinals last year before falling to Mililani.

He is 88-45-1 in his career for three OIA schools, Kailua and Kaimuki in addition to Campbell and has a shot to become the 13th coach in OIA history to reach 100 victories. Mililani’s Rod York is right with him with 86 wins, but has coached 24 fewer games.


  1. Another Coach from the bleachers February 28, 2019 10:20 pm

    Why does this seem like a half asses article? If you’re going to report about anything make sure you have your facts straight. So if DJ’s team lost to the other Hawai’i team, wouldn’t Tupu’s team be leading off the article. Nick Abramo ALWAYS writes articles without the full facts or ALWAYS reports only part of the story. This article should be about all the Pylon teams from a Hawai’i and not just DJ’s. A High School junior could write a better article.

  2. kapakahi March 1, 2019 12:35 am

    Though he’s not the focus of the article, Tupu should still have been correctly referenced as “a former UH running back” instead…….since Tupu transferred from Oregon to UH where he played 3 seasons (1993 through 1995) under HC Bob Wagner. Led UH in rushing 2 consecutive seasons (1994 & 1995).

  3. Nick Abramo March 1, 2019 11:39 am

    Hi Mahsui … I was assigned to call DJ and get his take on the pylon teams, especially the high school teams because we are a website for high school sports.

    He is a high school coach here and that’s why we called him and not Tupu.

    Thanks for comments.

  4. Nick Abramo March 1, 2019 11:49 am

    Good point Kapakahi. Yes, UH after Oregon. We will be correcting that.

  5. suspense March 1, 2019 1:33 pm

    isn’t alualu a coach at saint louis?

  6. Bing March 1, 2019 1:36 pm

    Waipahu had a team participating in the tournament but was not mentioned with the other teams smh

  7. RR4L March 1, 2019 4:35 pm

    Hmm… NO mention of the Intermediate team that WON?!?! Team Rager Wear of Kaneohe/Kahaluu. EXTREMELY talented bunch of kids!!

  8. Tomo Tu Da Momo March 1, 2019 6:56 pm

    Mean Da Dope…..smh. Love DJ and Company and what he’s doing out in Ewa for Saber Nation. Still should have recognized all the other Hawaii teams and their accomplishments. Especially Tupu who has been involved with the St. Louis program for over a decade. He has positively influenced and impacted many kids lives over the years. Just the same as York, Stili, Tanuvasa and some of the other coaches who are actively involved with the kids year round.

    Just my opinion, write this in the west oahu newspaper and then it makes sense. Write about the entire state, then make sense to write it on here for the entire state to see and be proud of all our Hawaii teams.

    Amene? Amene……..

  9. Kaui March 1, 2019 10:57 pm

    Would’ve been nice for you to also have mentioned Team Rager Wear based out of Kaneohe/Kahalu’u. Our boys won the 14U Championship as well as placed 3rd in the 15U in Mesquite. Almost all of our 14U boys also were double rostered and played in 15U also. I don’t think any other team did that. Playing 6 games the first day and 8 (would’ve been 9 if they had made it to Championship game). I also think that we are the first Hawaii team to win the 14U division as well as make it the farthest (semifinals) in the 15U. These boys will be heading to Dallas to represent Hawai’i soon in the Nationals.

  10. notes March 2, 2019 1:55 pm

    of course the media is only gonna report just mainly private school players. and nobody is gonna talk about the racist team names like “all-blacks” used by st louis? congratulations to ALL the public school teams working hard to represent the 808 with pride. no recruiting there! RRFL!

  11. Bryson Tsuchiyama March 4, 2019 8:47 am

    Yes – Rager Wear won the 14U Championship- boys from Kaneohe bought it home!!! Props to coaches Hanalei, Brandon Ross and John Waikik!!!

    Also 808 Elite participated and did well despite the challenges they had!! Big Mahalo to coach Rod Alama for sharing this lifetime memories with the boys!!

  12. kev-1 March 6, 2019 6:52 pm

    It’s always nice to see a photo of young men flashing signs and mean mugging the camera while representing their team. Classy photo fellas.

  13. BB March 11, 2019 11:59 am

    You also forgot to mention the shameless brawl the All Blacks entourage got into in the parking lot. Adults hitting kids…a real mess. That is what everyone not in Hawaii is talking about.

  14. Trustno1 March 11, 2019 5:10 pm

    kev-1 Those are not gang signs. The signs is actually an E and B for Ewa Beach where they are from. They representing the community of Ewa Beach or some call it 76 SOUTH. Showing nothing but pride. Photo looks good to me but that’s jus my 2cents! 808vsEVERYBODY!

  15. Oldmans March 12, 2019 10:01 pm

    It’s high school sports! Get a life you losers. I for one enjoyed the article.

  16. Trustno1 March 15, 2019 6:51 am

    notes- can you explain your comments about the team name “ALL BLACKS” being racist!

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