Damien coach Eddie Klaneski said the Monarchs suited up 32 players for Saturday’s 42-7 season-opening win against Castle in Kaneohe.
That forced many to play both ways, but the one area Klaneski said the Monarchs were OK at was in the trenches.
“We only had one or two guys play both ways (on the line),” Klaneski said.
That depth will be tested early as the Monarchs lost starting center Magnus Fonoti-Faumuina to a knee injury in the third quarter. Fonoti-Faumuina, who is 6-foot-1 and 300 pounds, was still being evaluated roughly two hours after the game ended.
Klaneski feared it could be a season-ending injury, but didn’t know for sure, and remained hopeful.
“I think it’s the MCL but we still don’t know for sure,” Klaneski said. “The doctors will talk to our training staff and I will find out from them, but we’re hopeful. Hoping for the best.”
It was a sour note to an otherwise impressive performance by the Monarchs, who got two touchdowns and a safety from their special teams to earn their largest margin of victory in a season opener since a 42-6 win over Nanakuli in 1987.
Senior quarterback Marcus Faufata-Pedrina, beginning his third season as the starter, was effective with an 8-yard touchdown run to cap the opening drive and two second-half touchdown passes.
Damien scored 36 unanswered points after falling behind 7-6 early in the second quarter.
“We overpowered them a little bit offensively and defensively we got after them,” Klaneski said. “You could tell (Castle) was already gassing in the first half. They had a lot of guys out and a lot of guys playing both ways.”
Castle coach John Hao said he was missing nine starters, but that shouldn’t take away from Damien’s complete performance.
Faufata-Pedrina completed eight of 13 pass attempts and junior running back Keoua Kauhi rushed for 158 yards. Akila Arecchi returned a kickoff 71 yards for a TD and Matthew Faufata-Pedrina returned a blocked punt 31 yards for a score.
The two-time defending ILH Division II champions are in for a grueling season with ‘Iolani back in Division II and St. Francis continuing to improve in its fifth year of having a varsity program.
Both ‘Iolani and Damien have three-year starters at quarterback, setting up for quite the ILH race.
“We feel good about (Faufata-Pedrina),” Klaneski said. “He played a really good game and he made some really good decisions.”