Kapolei’s Tagovailoa impressive in first start

Kapolei freshman Taulia Tagovailoa threw for a school-record 394 yards along with three touchdowns in Saturday's 67-21 loss at No. 1 Mililani.  Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Kapolei freshman Taulia Tagovailoa threw for a school-record 394 yards along with three touchdowns in Saturday’s 67-21 loss at No. 1 Mililani. Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Apparently, one talented quarterback named Tagovailoa is not enough for the state of Hawaii.

We all know about junior Tua Tagovailoa and his passing and rushing skills that he’s been putting on display for the No. 2 Saint Louis Crusaders since last season.

Lesser known is his brother, Taulia Tagovailoa, who is only a freshman. He passed for a school-record 394 yards along with three touchdowns in the Hurricanes’ 67-21 loss to Mililani on Saturday night.

Observations 101: Quick release, seasoned beyond his years, not afraid to stand in the pocket.

Remember that this was his first start and it was against the No. 1 team in the state. Not bad is an understatement. The only reason you haven’t heard more about that performance is that he was severely upstaged by one McKenzie Milton, who threw for six touchdowns and a Trojans-record 515 yards.

“Pretty awesome for a freshman,” Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said.

Hernandez was pleased with the offense, which also got a huge boost from L.J. Esperas, who caught 11 passes for a school-record 221 yards and added 50 yards rushing, Jaymin Sarono (12 catches for 79 yards and a TD) and Jenesus Tago-Sue (six catches, 71 yards, TD).

“Our defense was outmanned,” Hernandez said. “We held (Vavae) Malepeai (34 of his eventual 109 yards) down in the first half and that was our plan. But (Kalakaua) Timoteo (10 catches, 193 yards) tore us apart. He had an Anquan Boldin type of night.”

On the bench in the second quarter, Hernandez said to his team about Timoteo: “He’s killing us and he’s putting up Jerry Rice numbers.”

Of course, Milton was a thorn in the Hurricanes’ side all night, too.

“I don’t think he ever gets sacked,” Hernandez said.

Rocky Savea, a sophomore linebacker, was a rock on defense for Kapolei in the loss. He and senior linebacker Timmy Choi both had tackles of Malepeai for loss, and junior Ezra Savea turned in an outstanding two-way game at defensive back and receiver.

Ezra Savea, who started the season as the starting quarterback after transferring from Campbell, caught one of Tagovailoa’s TD throws.

Kapolei is in a relatively deep hole at 0-3 in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Blue and 1-3 overall. The Hurricanes’ losses are all to Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10 teams – No. 1 Mililani, No. 4 Kahuku and No. 7 Kailua. Their only win came against a team that started the season in the Top 10 — Kaiser.

“We’ve got to right the ship,” Hernandez said. “There are no easy games. It’s not a cruise.”

Kapolei has four regular-season games remaining — all at home — against Moanalua, Campbell, No. 6 Farrington and Aiea.


  1. Martin September 2, 2015 4:06 pm

    Hernandez had Darren Johnson as his OC last year. I was surprised to see Tagvailoa as the OC coach this year. Actually Surprise to see the Campbell players defect from Coach Amosa. Taulia Tagovailoa is like Milton where York got a load of transfers during those early years. Hernandez is using that playbook. taulia looks like the future for Kapolei. Surprise to see them put numbers and yards up on Mililani. I think York was surprised by Taulia since no one knew who would start. He gets mad quick. If Kapolei can hang on to Tagovailoa, then the OIA and State championships might be in the future especially if Kapolei can continue to grow.

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