Around these parts in the ‘burbs, Nick Au is like a rock star.
The Moanalua quarterback was mobbed by friends, family and fans during the team’s postgame celebration for seniors after throwing seven touchdown passes in three quarters of Saturday’s 56-6 home victory over Nanakuli that finished Na Menehune’s regular season with an undefeated (8-0, 7-0 OIA D-I) record.
The playoffs are looming and the school is preparing for the possibility of hitting new heights. Moanalua has never won an OIA D-I championship and that elusive title can be seen just over the horizon — two wins away.
Castle is the next team in Moanalua’s way. A quarterfinal game against the Knights will be played next Saturday at Skippa Diaz Stadium.
“He’s definitely resilient,” Na Menehune coach Savaii Eselu said about Au. “He kind of had to learn the hard way last year. He did a complete 180 in terms of performance and understanding and the collection of information and the fast pace. He definitely has the mental capacity. He’s as good as they come.”
Accuracy, patience, versatility and confidence were the traits on hand Saturday, but perhaps the biggest plus Au has going for him is his decision-making proficiency.
“Their receivers do a great job and the quarterback does a great job finding them,” Kili Watson, the coach of the vanquished Golden Hawks, said. “They have arsenals all over the field. Its a well-rounded team. And defensively, the front four, they can take care of the line of scrimmage themselves.”
So far, no colleges have come calling for Au, but that is probably because he’s only 5 feet 8, 165 pounds. But, Eselu believes his QB can play somewhere at the next level.
Here’s a look at Au’s stats from the last two seasons:
>> 2017: 140-for-279, 1,504 yards, 19 interceptions, 9 TDs, 50 percent completion rate.
>> 2018 (so far): 207-for-303, 2,340 yards, 11 interceptions, 28 TDs, 68 percent completion rate.
As for the playoffs ahead, Eselu said, “We want to make sure we stay even-keeled, don’t get too far ahead of ourselves, maintain the competitive nature and at the same time, we’ve gotta put all facets of our game together. We’ve done that here and there, but the running game, for example, I think we’re still in the negative — so we’re trying to crawl out of that hole.”
Cornerback Trequan Henderson, who scored on a 65-yard kickoff return for Moanalua’s last touchdown against Nanakuli, said the team needs to avoid doing anything stupid.
“It can be one and done,” said Henderson, who has five interceptions this year and it would have been six if one of them wasn’t called back due to a penalty. “If you lose, there’s no more playoffs.”
Eselu said that teams are not always throwing toward Henderson because of his coverage ability.
“Some teams will try and test Trequan, but after the first try, we keep him on Gilligan’s Island and no one’s going to test him. … And, he’s blazing fast.