Nerdpod: Quarterbacks, part 1

(Part 1 features a handful or so of quarterback summaries in no particular order. Part 2 will be posted later this weekend. Maybe. WRs and RBs next week, along with updated QB summaries.)

Sometimes, numbers are nothing more than false representations of an athlete’s true value.

Baseball? A hitter could be a .400 guy with nobody on base, but a .100 guy with runners in scoring position.


Basketball? Take 30 shots a game, and a true scorer should be averaging no less than 30 points per game. Even then, not particularly impressive, this volume scorer dude.

Football can be no different with statistics. Some players struggle when the outcome of a game is still in the balance, but their stats get pumped up in a blowout win or loss.

These summaries aren’t the end all, but the numbers give us a peek or glimpse into efficiency. After all, a phenom like Marcus Mariota was superb in his lone season as a starting QB at Saint Louis. He didn’t notch a 500-yard game or rush for 200. But on balance, he was extremely efficient with the ball — a passer rating of near 200 — and by season’s end, his proficiency, precision and desire to be “a great teammate” netted the Crusaders a state title in 2010.

Here’s a look at some island passers after five weeks of action, listed in no particular order. Random.

Taulia Tagovailoa, Kapolei QB, So.
Taulia Tagovailoa, Kapolei QB, So.

QUARTERBACKS
Taulia Tagovailoa, Kapolei
Measurables:
6-0, 190, So.
Crunch this: 124-for-210, 1,506 yards, 17 TD passes, 2 INT
Completion rate: .590
Yards per attempt: 7.17
Passer rating: 144.10
The skinny: Unlike older brother Tua Tagovailoa of Saint Louis, Taulia has never endeavored to be a dual-threat type of QB. He knows his lane and stays in it. What the numbers don’t reflect is that he is nimble in the pocket, good footwork and knows how to stay out of trouble when the pass rush is on. He has minus-71 yards rushing on 21 attempts, but there is rarely a pre-snap call for him to run, as was the case early in the second half against Mililani. Instead, Taulia relies on his protection, his receivers and their relationship through the air. He and WR Jaymin Sarono have incredible chemistry and they almost never miscommunicate on a key down. Their work together is somewhat reminiscent of the chemistry that former Punahou QB Cayman Shutter had with WR Robby Toma not so many years ago.
X factor: What the numbers don’t tell us is that the entire offense is built around his IQ and accuracy. Kapolei called passing plays more than 82 percent of the time against Mililani on Monday night. In that sense, Taulia “runs” the ball through the air.
W-L: 4-1 (3-1 OIA Red)
Top 10 wins: @ Mililani 9/5
Top 10 losses: Waianae 8/13
Next: vs. Kailua 9/16


2016 September 2 SPT - HSA Photo by Jamm Aquino. Iolani's Tai-John Mizutani (6) throws the football during the first half of an ILH football game between the St. Louis Crusaders and the Iolani Raiders on Friday, September 2, 2016 at Aloha Stadium in Halawa.
2016 September 2 SPT – HSA Photo by Jamm Aquino.
Iolani’s Tai-John Mizutani (6) throws the football during the first half of an ILH football game between the St. Louis Crusaders and the Iolani Raiders on Friday, September 2, 2016 at Aloha Stadium in Halawa.

Tai-John Mizutani, ‘Iolani
Measurables:
6-2, 180, Jr.
Crunch this: 66-for-124, 835 yards, 6 TD, 2 INT
Completion rate: .532
Yards per attempt: 6.73
Passer rating: 122.53
The skinny: If you haven’t seen the Raiders lately, they’re as functional, practical and efficient as they’ve been over the past two-plus seasons. Truly, for a long stretch, the program churned out one elite QB after another. But again, over time, it’s become much more about the system, analyzing efficiencies and the skill set of the 16-year-old operating heavy equipment, that sets everything in place. Mizutani has matured in this sense immensely during the past 18 months. Having solid go-to playmakers in RB K.J. Pascua and WR Justin Genovia is a gift, but the reliability of the receiving corps as a whole is a Raider Nation staple. From 2013-15, even an uber-talent like Keoni-Kordell Makekau was merely a cog in the machine. A darn good one, but whatever a defense committed to Makekau’s side of the field opened windows for his teammates. And the beat goes on…
X factor: The 53-percent completion rate is startling at first, but ‘Iolani is not the kind of program that sheds a tear when it sends the punt team onto the field. They’d rather see Mizutani test the mine field, stay safe and live to see another day than take a single unnecessary risk. So he’s thrown just two picks in 124 attempts. Come on, one pick every 62 attempts is a rate most high school coaches dream of. Especially with Pascua grinding out more than 4 yards per carry in the wicked ILH.
QBs like Taulia Tagovailoa and Mizutani aren’t necessarily programmed for the big, explosive play. They are generally conservative, low-risk, medium-reward operators, hence the modest passer rating. We may think of Marcus Mariota as a big-play monster during his senior year at Saint Louis, and though he was, his passer rating was a shade below 200. Much of that was almost by design; the Crusaders rarely put him in position to take unnecessary risk, so his resume wasn’t loaded with 400-yard passing games. But he was extremely accurate and efficient, with the ability to launch the ball deeper than anyone I can recall at the prep level. He was also a threat to break off a big run at any time, just as he is now with the Tennessee Titans — something that is not typically scripted for pocket passers like Taulia and Mizutani.
W-L: 3-1 (0-1 ILH)
Top 10 wins: La Jolla Country Day (Calif.)*
Top 10 losses: Saint Louis
Next: @ Kamehameha 9/10

Damien quarterback Marcus Faufata-Pedrina holds the Monarchs' single-game passing record. Photo by Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Damien quarterback Marcus Faufata-Pedrina holds the Monarchs’ single-game passing record. Photo by Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Marcus Faufata-Pedrina, Damien
Measurables:
5-8, 185, Jr.
Crunch this: 46-for-89, 647 yards, 10 TD, 3 INT
Completion rate: .517
Yards per attempt: 7.27
Passer rating: 143.09
The skinny: Year 2 of MFP at QB is turning into quite a spectacle. It’s also becoming a number-cruncher eye popper of rare quality. And it’s not like Damien has played a string of Division II contemporaries. After four games against three D-I foes (Moanalua, Maui, Kealakehe) and a strong D-II foe (St. Francis), MFP has developed into a force on ground and in air. In addition to the sterling numbers as a passer, he has rushed for 314 yards and four TDs, averaging 6 yards per carry. That’s 961 total yards from scrimmage: 240.3 per game. His 52 rushing attempts leads all QBs statewide. The results that matter most to all QBs: Damien is 3-1, including three wins in a row.
X factor: The Monarchs systematically rely on MFP, not a surprise for a smaller school and program. At some point, the weekly pounding could take a toll. At some point, defenses in ILH D-II will go all-in against MFP and test the clutchability* of his teammates. Until then, MFP has the benefit of a short schedule — only three regular-season games remain — to heal up from all the hits he takes. Otherwise, a 240-yards-per-game effort over a 13-game season — the norm for an OIA D-I team that reaches the state final — would produce incredible totals.
W-L: 3-1 (1-0 ILH D-II)
Top 10 wins: None.
Top 10 losses: None.
Next: vs. Pac-Five, Aloha Stadium 9/9

Sophomore QB Jordan Solomon set a school record with 331 passing yards in the Bulldogs' first game of the season against Waialua. Photo by Kaylee Noborikawa/Star-Advertiser.
Sophomore QB Jordan Solomon set a school record with 331 passing yards in the Bulldogs’ first game of the season against Waialua. Photo by Kaylee Noborikawa/Star-Advertiser.

Jordan Solomon, Kaimuki
Measurables:
So.
Crunch this: 62-for-139, 847 yards, 9 TD, 8 INT
Completion rate: .446
Yards per attempt: 6.09
Passer rating: 105.65
The skinny: Only a 10th grader, in a new environment, learning a new system. Most of all, he is fully trusted, which means the Bulldogs will ride the ups and downs as he learns on the job. Plenty of potential here and he’s just getting started.
X factor: The absence of man-child, two-way standout Johnny Masina has forced everyone on the roster to upgrade in every way. At this point, Kaimuki is averaging 53.3 rushing yards per game, and Solomon at times has looked like a traffic cop facing 90 mph pass rushers. When he’s got time, it’s a different world. His top four receivers are all averaging at least 11 yards per catch.
W-L: 2-2 (2-1 OIA D-II)
Top 10 wins: None.
Top 10 losses: Faith Lutheran (Nev.)*
Next: vs. Kalaheo, Kailua HS 9/17

Kamehameha QB Thomas Yam warms up before Thursday night's game against Punahou. George F. Lee/Star-Advertiser. (Sept. 1, 2016)
Kamehameha QB Thomas Yam warms up before Thursday night’s game against Punahou. George F. Lee/Star-Advertiser. (Sept. 1, 2016)

Thomas Yam, Kamehameha
Measurables:
6-1, 185, Jr.
Crunch this: 20-for-41, 280 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Completion rate: .488
Yards per attempt: 6.83
Passer rating: 117.37
The skinny: This is almost too early to gauge with a brand-new system, new terminology and, it seems, a completely different world of angles and windows for Yam and his competitor at QB, Justice Young. For all the record-setting performances by the two in 2015, they weren’t enough to win the ILH. Historically, Kamehameha’s best teams relied on the ground attack and elite defense, and that’s precisely what new coach Abu Ma‘afala is committed to. .
X factor: Three games into the season, the Warriors have run the ball 114 times and thrown it 60 times.
W-L: 1-2 (0-1 ILH)
Top 10 wins: Baldwin
Top 10 losses: Punahou
Next: vs. #10 ‘Iolani 9/10


Senior Justice Young, who holds Kamehameha's single-game passing record, will contend with Boogie Yam for the starting QB job. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Senior Justice Young, who holds Kamehameha’s single-game passing record, will contend with Boogie Yam for the starting QB job. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Justice Young, Kamehameha
Measurables:
5-9, 160, Sr.
Crunch this: 7-for-18, 127 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Completion rate: .389
Yards per attempt: 7.06
Passer rating: 116.49
The skinny: Kahuku’s 2015 team showed that championships can still be won without a semblance of a passing game. In a high-volume passing offense, Young and Yam would probably average 200-250 yards per game. The Warriors have time to figure this out; all four ILH D-I teams will have a shot in the playoffs regardless of regular-season results. The pieces are there to establish what they’re after.
X factor: The one benefit the OIA has over the ILH, at least in Division I, is that there are weekends when your team won’t face a Top 10 foe. You might be able to work on some things thanks to a two- or three-touchdown lead or deficit. That same approach could be taken in the brutal ILH, but the glut and gauntlet of playing Top 10 teams every week creates a pressure that is unknown to all other leagues. If something isn’t working, ILH D-I teams find out immediately. There is no better evidence than hard evidence.
W-L: 1-2 (0-1 ILH)
Top 10 wins: Baldwin
Top 10 losses: Punahou
Next: vs. #10 ‘Iolani 9/10

2016 August 19 SPT - HSA Photo by George F. Lee / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM Moanalua Menehune football player Alaka‘i Yuen put up a pass against the Waianae Seariders in a game on Friday at Waianae.
2016 August 19 SPT – HSA Photo by George F. Lee / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM Moanalua Menehune football player Alaka‘i Yuen put up a pass against the Waianae Seariders in a game on Friday at Waianae.

Alaka‘i Yuen, Moanalua
Measurables:
Sr.
Crunch this: 69-for-119, 991 yards, 16 TD, 6 INT
Completion rate: .580
Yards per attempt: 8.33
Passer rating: 162.22
The skinny: The dependency factor is large in Moanalua’s system. Much like Mizutani at ‘Iolani and Taulia Tagovailoa at Kapolei, the keys this machine are with Yuen. Unlike Mizutani, Yuen doesn’t have a RB with a lot of touches, though Kea Rodrigues is averaging 4 yards per carry. Yuen produces, period. When he is on the field, Na Menehune average 37 points per game. He has made some adjustments with the graduation of outstanding playmakers. In other words, these first four games were a lab environment. The next four should bring some refinement, though the Sept. 24 matchup with Kahuku looms.
X factor: As long as Yuen is the team’s leading rusher (134 yards, 33 carries, one TD), Na Menehune’s hopes are on yellow alert.
W-L: 2-2 (1-2 OIA Blue)
Top 10 wins: None.
Top 10 losses: Waianae
Next: vs. Kaiser 9/9

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