Orange Crush is always refreshing.
At Campbell, life in the post-Titus era has been part revelation, part reality. A cast of contributors who do their jobs. What was lost with the cancelled 2020 season — offensive playmaker Titus Mokiao-Atimalala was destined for another monster season — has been found once again through the Sabers’ defense.
Eight Campbell defenders notched at least three tackles in a 36-3 win over No. 9 Kapolei on Saturday night. The Hurricanes missed the services of multiple players due to protocols, but with both defenses playing stellar football, it was Campbell that held steady. The Sabers forced five turnovers, had six sacks and after Kapolei scored on its initial drive, not another point.
Coach Darren Johnson had much to share about his defenders.
>> Kana Nelson, CB/LB, Sr. — Nelson seemed to be everywhere, finishing with a team-high six tackles, including three for losses. Two of those were sacks by the 5-foot-8, 175-pound playmaker.
“He’s feisty. He just plays bigger than he is. He plays to the football, always been a kid who plays everywhere. He would play D-line if we told him to,” Johnson said. “He played free safety for our JV, but he likes to play so much downhill, so we put him in a spot where he can make plays.”
>> Ieremia Lemaota Jr., DL, Jr. — His five tackles were second for the Sabers, a fairly high number for a lineman. He also recorded one sack.
“He probably has the best feet of all the linemen. He was playing two ways at the beginning, and we’ve slowly brought him back to defense,” Johnson said.
>> T’nias Tavale, DL/TE, So. — Tavale is versatile at 6-1, 245 pounds. He finished with four tackles, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble. He also was on the receiving end of a wild PAT play that began as a kick try. It wound up with as a prayer of a throw into the end zone, where Tavale was wisely positioned.
“He made a play, the kind where we yell, ‘Fire!’ I told him, ‘Good job, keep it up and keep playing football.’ He’s one of those kids who naturally plays, and we always say if you play through mistakes, something good is bound to happen.”
>> Shace Paaaina, LB, Sr. — The 6-1, 215-pound linebacker had four tackles, credited for a half-tackle for loss.
“He’s a good kid, good family, real supportive. We were worried about him at the beginning, but he turned things around. He changed his attitude and mentality for the better,” Johnson said. “Now he’s just playing hard-nosed football. We felt he was going to be very good for us.”
>> Tysic Puni, DB/LB, So. — At 5-10, 180 pounds, Puni is a classic tweener who excels on the back side and in traffic. He had four tackles and a forced fumble and sack against Kapolei.
“He’s another undersized linebacker, just plays hard-nosed football. He’s a wired kid, has a lot of energy. They don’t stand around. They don’t try to get blocked. It’s hard to block a moving body,” Johnson said.
>> Kela Moore, DB, So. — The 6-1, 170-pound cornerback had four tackles and forced a fumble against the Hurricanes.
“I think he’s the best safety probably in his age group. We were going to bring him up as a true freshman. I think he’s the best of the Moores. He plays with great IQ and intensity, and he’s very coachable,” Johnson said.
Kama Moore was a standout defensive back at Saint Louis, and current Crusaders senior DB Kona Moore committed to Hawaii.
>> Kekoa Narvaes, DL/FB, Sr. — The 5-10, 225-pound two-way contributor had three tackles.
“They moved into Ewa and he was a great addition to us. He plays with a motor. I think he works with (the late) Matt Faga a lot. That was his uncle,” Johnson said. “He’s a really good kid, an unreal worker.”
Narvaes, he added, was raised in part by his stepfather, former Kaimuki standout Justin Faimealelei.
“That’s why he went to Matt. That’s Justin’s uncle,” Johnson added.
>> Mitai Fuauli, LB, So. — At 6-2, 240 pounds, Fuauli had three tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss.
“Oh man, he’ s a man-child. If we ever got him under control, he’d be dangerous,” Johnson said.
>> Aisiah Paogofie, DB/WR, Fr. — One of his two tackles was a sack.
“He’s just a freshman. Chris (Paogofie’s) nephew. He can play football,” Johnson said.
For defensive enthusiasts, there was a lot to like about Kapolei, too. Iosefa Tapeni, a 6-3, 288-pound junior, had another stout performance with three sacks — all in the first half. He sat for most of the second half with a calf issue.
“He’s a good football player. I can see why he goes both ways. He’s very, very good,” Johnson said.
Campbell defensive coordinator Kainoa Kinoshita and staff got wire-to-wire execution from the Sabers.
“Three years ago, he came to us. He came in with Blaze (Soares),” Johnson said.
With Soares on hiatus, there was also a change on the offensive side when OC Jaymason Lee joined the staff at Moanalua. Johnson runs the Campbell offense with input from assistant coach Shane Masaniai.
“He picks the plays a lot of times. He works with all of the skills,” Johnson said. “I have an offensive staff that gives good suggestions and sees things. They’re on the same page and make good adjustments. The defense is the same way. Guys are dialed in. Every week, we want to get better.”
For all coaches, guiding young players in the pandemic era has been a new, different way of life.
“Around the whole league, with the layoff it put the kids behind, but are we happy to be back? Of course, we are. That’s one of the things that’ll go down in history, having no season (in ’20),” Johnson said.
Next up for No. 5-ranked Campbell: the Leilehua Mules. Since moving up from Division I to the Open Division, the Mules have struggled and are 0-3.
“Every week’s a real test to me,” Johnson said. “It’s tough in our conference. Every team is good. I take every game as 0-0 and anything can happen.”
Quarterback Chayne Kuboyama-Hayashi was productive with 163 passing yards and a TD. Running back Chauncee Lopez came up with 57 yards and three TDs as the Sabers orchestrated an effective game plan. In all, Kuboyama-Hayashi threw 27 passes and the offense rushed 35 times for 80 yards. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.
“We had to protect the inside because they were blitzing our ‘A’ gaps,” Kuboyama-Hayashi said. “Sefa, right? Kapolei has a really good D-line.”
Johnson planned, as usual, to spend three hours studying film on Sunday, and then three more hours of film study on Monday.
“Coach always says, ‘Next play,’ even if it’s a good or bad play,” Kuboyama-Hayashi said. “You’ve got to keep moving.”
Campbell 0 15 7 14 — 36
Kapolei 3 0 0 0 — 3
Kap—Hurley Kennedy FG 27
Cam—Chauncee Lopez 4 run (Calzzic Ili kick)
Cam—Jonah Tavui 10 pass from Chayne Kuboyama-Hayashi (T’nias Tavale pass from Dallas Fonseca-Juan)
Cam—Rowen Bucao 10 pass from Kuboyama-Hayashi (Ili kick)
Cam—Lopez 1 run (Ili kick)
Cam—Lopez 5 run (Ili kick)
RUSHING—Cam: Kuboyama-Hayashi 7-(-1), Lopez 19-57, Rowen Bucao 7-26, Teva Feliciano 1-5, Clete Gilbert 1-(-7). Kap: Tryton Keli‘ikipi 6-18, Ezra Sidotti 8-13, Esaiah Gideon 12-(-30), team 1-(-28), Caleb Dela Pena-Pihana 1-0.
PASSING—Cam: Kuboyama-Hayashi 12-27-1-163. Kap: Gideon 7-15-3-88.
RECEIVING—Cam: Tavui 6-88, Kamaehu Kopa-Kaawalauole 2-26, Jourdain Berinobis-Pyne 3-39, Bucao 1-10. Kap: Braedon Pieper 1-9, Mordecai Koong 3-59, Riley Camarillo 1-6, Diezel Kamoku 2-14,