Mauga making his case as best in state

Waianae defensive end Kana'i Mauga is the No. 1-rated recruit in Hawaii in the class of 2018. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

If big-time players make big-time plays, then Kana’i Mauga is as prime as it gets.

It seems that the Waianae senior is making his bid for defensive player of the year honors each time he takes the field this season. He added to his hot streak on Saturday night against Radford, taking an interception 71 yards to the house. It was the Seariders’ first touchdown of the game and it set the tone for a 47-15 rout.

“All the credit goes to the DB’s and they’re doing their job,” he said afterwards. “It’s a defense and team thing.”

Mauga’s productive season started with a 29-yard fumble return in the team’s opener against No. 1 Saint Louis. He added a 46-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Campbell in a 27-14 win on Aug. 25. In last week’s matchup with Moanalua, he scored on a 17-yard pick-six.

Waianae head coach Walter Young acknowledged his star’s propensity to make big plays but redirected his praise to Mauga’s demeanor.

“He’s a great team player, though. He comes and makes plays but he always talks to the rest of the defense and is always picking up the rest of the kids,” Young said. “It’s not just the plays he makes, it’s the leadership he brings that makes him such a great kid.”

The No. 10 Seariders improved to 3-3 on the season and 3-2 in OIA Blue play. With favorable matchups against Aiea and Kaiser ahead, the Seariders have an opportunity to close out the regular season with some real momentum heading into the playoffs, where Mauga will be tested with the stakes raised.

“We feel great,” Mauga said. “With this winning streak we got, it gives us motivation to strive more to win so it’s a blessing.”

“We take it one game at a time and one week at a time,” Young added. “The kids will go home and enjoy this win, and come Monday we’ll start the new week and go from there.”

Mauga, who committed to Southern California in June, said after the game that he’s still an “open book.” He also said that he hopes to take more visits and “explore” before the recruiting process is over.

Although Mauga is listed as a defensive lineman and linebacker on Waianae’s roster, he’s also been asked to run the ball at times for the Seariders this season. On Saturday, he had a carry for an 8-yard gain. He even has a touchdown under his belt, when he added a 1-yard score against the Sabers.

Part of what makes Mauga an interesting prospect is his versatility defensively, where he possesses the strength of a lineman with the range of a defensive back. When asked what his favorite position is, he simply said that he doesn’t have one.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “Put me anywhere, I got you.”


  1. Choloropicrin September 10, 2017 7:19 am

    If this guy isn’t the DPOY at the end of the season something is wrong. If you watch the games, other teams are clearly gameplanning and going in the opposite direction. He shuts down half the field.

    I also think the coaches should let him rush from the edge at times. That is his greatest ability.

  2. RidgeRunnerE-5 September 10, 2017 11:11 am

    I don’t think Radford went in his direction more than three times the entire game, and he got a 71yd pick six on one of those occasions. Imagine the noise he’d be making if teams didn’t avoid him so much.

  3. PlayaHatersAnonymous September 10, 2017 12:29 pm

    You are a smart OC when it comes to playing against an athlete of this magnitude and go the opposite of where he’s alligng. Those that would run at him simply have no respect for his game like a Kahuku or a Saint Louis Offense! Still he makes them pay for such mistakes. But I hate those coaches that underestimate him, Go Seariders!

  4. Douglas Hu September 10, 2017 1:46 pm

    Waianae’s D took beatings from both the Crusaders and Red Raiders…they did not discriminate…both teams showed respect to the Seariders by not scoring 70….Mauga is fun to watch and is a damn good football player…the POY usually comes from the best defensive unit in the state, and right now it’s Noa Purcell from St. Louis…

  5. Awrite!! September 10, 2017 2:20 pm

    Douglas Hu – You are advanced in your analysis brother. The main reason the strong get stronger is because familys realize that if they want their son to be a stand-out they need to be on a strong team. Noa is a top candidate for DPOY but if Mauga was at STL he would probably be the front runner. This is one example of why the ILH have advantages over public schools, they have resources and systems in place to allow elite athletes to shine so now you see why future players of Mauga caliber are flocking to the ILH and leaving the crappy programs of the OIA.

  6. Gafatasi muafono September 10, 2017 3:21 pm

    Mauga has like 3 or 4 defensive TDs, few sack force fumbles, couple INTs, top 5 in tackles, and a few pass deflections. I dont know about you Douglad HU but those stats sound like DPOY stats already and its still got 2 games left in the season.

  7. Douglas Hu September 10, 2017 3:51 pm

    We can agree to disagree…the cool thing is that both Noa and Kana’i could probably care less about that award…they play with extreme passion for this game…it’s easy to root for both boys, they come from good families and we’re raised right…

  8. Awrite!! September 10, 2017 5:35 pm

    Gafatasi – Like I said, Waianae may not go far in the playoffs which hurts Maugas chances of showing his stuff on the biggest stage. He will win DPOY in the OIA but the state DPOY usually comes from a team that wins the state title game or atleast makes the semifinals.

    Noa benefits more if his team goes to the state title game which STL mostlikely will. There is a reason why Kahuku has many DPOY and OPOY because as a team they win championships.

  9. Leeboy September 10, 2017 5:56 pm

    The Mauga kid is a beast, but the DPOY is Noa Purcell. He is playing lights out in the best team in Hawaii. nough said

  10. Hau'ulaBoy September 10, 2017 6:07 pm

    Waianae should put him at Safety and let himroam the field. Kinda like a Troy Polamlu with the Steelers. They would let him read the O and just let him make plays.Hes got the speed and the smarts. You watch a game and hes everywhere. Even if they run away from him hes still making plays. Let him roam the field, high school QBs in Hawaii dont audible, hes gonna make even more plays… Just being an armchair coach again. Good luck to this kid and the Seariders. RR4L._.

  11. Brandon johnston September 10, 2017 6:08 pm

    If I’m not mistaken the coach from kahuku said they ran the ball the opposite side K.mauga lined up. That alone should tell you something. Yes a beast he wins it. Only way he doesn’t win it is if he sits the rest of the season

  12. RidgeRunnerE-5 September 10, 2017 7:05 pm

    Purcell is a good player on a great defense. When everyone around you excels at doing there job well, it lessens the stress and responsibility on you as an individual player and makes it easier to make big plays. Not saying he isn’t a talented LB, I just feel that he’s but one piece of a well-oiled Saint Louis defensive machine.

  13. Koa iokia September 10, 2017 7:51 pm

    Where is the love for Dylan Toilolo…… Stat check for the stat checkers he pass and eyeball test for all the eyeball testers he passed that too. Just gotta show some love for that boy. Every game so far I was impressed. Plus he makes noise on the field….. That kids is a Animal…. I wish the best to all the local boys….

  14. Choloropicrin September 10, 2017 8:01 pm

    His sack stats would go up if Waianae coaches utilized him off the edge. At USC he’ll probably be used as an edge rusher / elephant position. If you watched his highlights he does well off the edge and held his own at the camps against talented linemen. His frame will allow him to add about 15-20 pounds of muscle.

  15. Choloropicrin September 10, 2017 8:21 pm

    Player of the year should not go to the person on the team that wins the championship or goes deep in the playoffs. It’s the best player on either offense or defense that get it. Here’s a few that was the best but not on a good team.

    1998- Iolani Joe Igber OPOY (3rd in ILH)
    2005- Damien Kealoha Pilares OPOY (ILH Div2)
    2007- Damien Kama Bailey OPOY (ILH div2)

  16. Choloropicrin September 10, 2017 8:26 pm

    However the div2 guys up above leaves room for discussion, as they should have been in their own div.

  17. Oia#1 September 10, 2017 10:07 pm

    Yup, mauga should win dpoy. He can do it all on a so-so defense. Noone comes close, he makes big plays every game. Even when teams game plan for him, he still shows up.

  18. phILHarmonic September 11, 2017 3:37 pm

    OIA DPOY- probably
    State DPOY? I dont know, maybe.
    Best Hair- You bettah believe it.

    Seriously, he has a expanded his game immensely. Much better in space this year, all that pylon payed off, and if wants to he is still a dominant edge rusher. Kudos to W for putting him in a position that has more of an impact on the game than just DE. Good kid, great family hope the best for him. DUBside.

  19. Douglas Hu September 11, 2017 7:51 pm

    Enjoying this thread….cool discussions…yeah, can’t fault Mauga for playing with a less than stellar D…his competition isn’t the best either, but again not on him…he rose to every occasion…he’s a damn football player and there’s no if ands around that…

  20. realitycheck September 12, 2017 8:57 am

    I would vote for him. DPOY! He’s got the same tangibles as Chris Pagofie. Waianae’s finest. He has worked on his craft off season; both run and pass defense. I heard that he played with Team 808 7-on-on team to the National Adidas Tournament and worked with DB Tech Academy. He is a student of the game.

    He’s anticipation and football IQ coupled with his motor is off the hook. Love this kid and wish him the best.

  21. Coach C September 12, 2017 1:14 pm

    Here’s my pick. Kanai is a USC commit. That’s the University of Southern California Trojans. Noa has an offer from thee University of Fresno. KanaI 3 inches taller, much faster. Noa, couldn’t catch a running back from the opposite side. Stl.D, very good in closing all gaps so much easier for Noa. Waianaes D, KanaI flies to all gaps to make the plays. Maunga, DPOY.

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