Leilehua got off to a fine start to the 2019 football season Friday night, dumping Farrington 35-0 at the Govs’ Skippa Diaz Stadium.
The nonleague victory doesn’t mean as much as it would if Farrington was at full strength. The home team was missing 19 players, mostly due to academic probation, according to coach Daniel Sanchez.
But that doesn’t take away from the fine form the Division I Mules were in, especially for a season opener against a team that plays a division (Open) higher in the regular season. Their hurry-up offense and overall pace — under the watchful eye of offensive coordinator Andrew Manley — was brilliant. Quarterback Kalei Akagi made the short and medium throws and a few deep ones, too.
All in all, it was a successful overall outing for the Wahiawa boys, and it was complemented by a hard-charging defense led by Kiaka Pio, Gabriel Araki and Laakea Umiamaka. They were in the face of Farrington ball carriers and quarterback Darius Chaffin all night.
Three turnovers also worked against Farrington. The Mules, meanwhile, never coughed it up.
Akagi threw one TD pass — a 64-yard bomb to Jonathan Vasquez — and ran for another. The Mules made Farrington pay in the red zone, punching it in on the ground three times and also getting an 8-yard TD pass from backup quarterback Kekoa Turnagan to Jayzon Ramos.
Just one year ago, Farrington topped Leilehua 38-16 in the opener. Friday night marked the Governors’ seventh loss in a row dating back to last season — their longest losing streak since 1957-58, when they lost 10 in a row.
Raymond Millare, a dangerous running back for the Govs, was held in check before being carted off the field with a wrist injury early in the second half.
“Raymond will be fine,” Sanchez said. “He’ll be back next week (against Punahou), and so will the 19 other guys who missed this game, I hope.”
One of the missing players was 6-foot-5, 390-pound Faaope Laoulu, a tackle and a transfer from St. Francis who has committed to Oregon.
TJ Paleafei had a nice two-way game for the Govs. He returned a punt 23 yards and rushed four times for 54 yards. Defensively, he had a sack of the Mules’ Akagi.
Pio was in the middle of the defensive vortex for Leilehua. He had a forced fumble that was recovered by teammate Jaku Hanohano-Baptista, and he also had a sack.
Umiamaka and Jashawn Wakefield also recovered fumbles for the Mules, and CJ Acohido caused one of those fumbles.
Pio credited the team’s defensive line as a whole for making things happen and he was ecstatic about the offense’s ability to keep the chains moving.
“That was pretty exciting to see the offense going against an Open Division team and moving the ball,” he said.
He and coach Mark Kurisu are not putting too much stock in the upset victory.
“Another lesson learned,” Pio said. “Another way to see where we stand … to see the balance and the base of the team. I’m glad we came out with the victory and overall I’m pretty happy. I’m pretty sure my teammates are happy, too.”
Added Kurisu: “Farrington was down close to 20 guys. I like the direction we went. We executed and that was a goal.”