When Washington State coach Mike Leach left for Mississippi State recently, recruits like Saint Louis quarterback Jayden de Laura did a double take. However, the hubbub surrounding the departure of Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich to Washington State is a bit zanier to get wrapped around. Less than 24 hours after learning about the change in Pullman, Wash., de Laura has been able to digest the whiplash events, right?
“Not really,” he said. “But you’ve got to do what’s best for your family.”
At the very least, the roots of the run-and-shoot offense operated by Rolovich are sourced from the same machinery run by Saint Louis offensive coordinator and guru Ron Lee.
“Yeah, same DNA, a lot of similarities,” de Laura said after Tuesday morning’s practice at Aloha Stadium.
Farrington senior Fa‘aope Laloulu will be at left guard when de Laura lines up in the shotgun for Team Makai in Saturday’s Polynesian Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Laloulu, a 6-foot-7, 390-pound All-State trench man, was deployed at times as a pulling blocker by Farrington. Imagine that, Laloulu learning a two-lane wide path for de Laura on the occasional quarterback draw.
Laloulu’s journey helped bring St. Francis’ football program into the public eye. The Saints became an ILH Division II powerhouse before the school folded in 2019. Laloulu and some of his teammates were rumored to be en route to Saint Louis, which was the three-time defending Open Division champion at the time.
Laloulu wound up at Farrington, signed with Oregon, and left his mark as a standout in the classroom and on the gridiron. Now, he will be the mountain protecting de Laura, two All-State selections soon to be in the Pac-12 Conference.
The giant Governor has a gentle demeanor off the field, and he insists that the game will be strictly entertainment.
“A lot of the guys flew out here today. We’ll go out there on Saturday and have fun,” he said. “I’ll do some (pull blocking) if they put the play in,” Laloulu said.
The game rules include no blitzing and no press coverage by defensive backs. That is something de Laura and his teammates saw some of during their 12-0 run to the state title, but he often thrived when teams went all-out to chase him down with five, six, seven pass rushers.
“We’re just going to have fun. Hopefully, we’ll have fun,” de Laura said.
Another aspect is that his pass-catching Crusader teammates in the bowl game, Roman Wilson and Koali Nishigaya, will be on the other team (Mauka).
“I’m not surprised. And Coach Vinny (Passas), too,” de Laura said.
Passas, the Saint Louis QBs coach, is the tight ends coach with Team Mauka.
Wilson, Nishigaya and Kapolei’s De’Zhaun Stribling are going through the same process of building chemistry with new passers.
“It’s like catching passes from Jayden,” said Wilson, a signee with Michigan.
The Makai offensive coordinator is Moanalua coach Savaii Eselu, who installed pass-heavy offensive sets with his team the past several seasons. Maybe Eselu will call a QB draw occasionally for de Laura.
“But we’ve got some good running backs,” de Laura said.
With a plethora of five-, four- and three-star rated players from all over the country, QBs on both squads will see their fair share of pressure. Maybe de Laura never has to run the ball, which would please his future coaches and fans in Pullman.
“We’ll see,” de Laura said.
And with that, the Makai and Mauka teams headed to the nearby Pearl Harbor Memorial.