(Full preview of football teams in the OIA Red East.)
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
There have been deeper, larger and bigger teams in the storied gridiron history of Kahuku football. There may not have been, however, a squad this balanced from position to position in some time. With the rizght combination of talent up front and down field, coach Reggie Torres has an offense that can truly get balanced when necessary.
Offense alone, of course, doesn’t make Kahuku the No. 1 team in the state. It does, however, give opposing teams more to consider than usual. It could be Tylenol time for defensive coordinators across the Red East.
Here’s a look at the division.
OIA Red East
Coach: Nelson Maeda
Last year: 6-5 (4-5 OIA Red)
On paper: The Knights will miss prolific receiver/linebacker/returner Shaydon Kehano, but quarterback Jaymason Lee (2,293 yards, 29 TD) has an array of choices that could keep defenses off-balance.
Maeda is confident in his trio of wide outs (Noah Makainai, Jacque Hough, William Oku) and threesome of slotbacks (Joshua Kong, Timothy Torres, Moses Alimoot).
They’re also bigger in the trenches than usual. Dustin Telefoni (6-1, 272), a nephew of former UH lineman and Kauai mayor Bernard Carvalho, is only a sophomore. Lafaele Paselio (6-1, 246) and Chris Finau (6-4, 270) are also key on both sides of the ball.
The skinny: Lee’s efficiency in the run-and-shoot offense is a big part of Castle’s consistency. This fall will reveal if he can distribute rather than rely on a big-play target like Kehano.
X factor: With stellar linebacker Garrett Paredes graduated, Cy Pana (6-0, 195) has an opportunity to step in. Castle has produced major stoppers before. Without one, opposing teams may grind out long drives and keep Lee on the sidelines more than the Knights would like.
Coach: Randall Okimoto
Last year: 9-3 (7-2 OIA Red)
On paper: Fourteen of last season’s seniors are playing at the college and junior college levels now, Okimoto said. Despite the departures, he is optimistic.
Okimoto calls this season’s offensive line “the Bamboolas,” a reference to pulverizing blockers of past Farrington squads. He may like this group a little more, though, because three of them are only sophomores. Right tackle Charles Sataraka (6-0, 254), right guard Michael Boyd (6-2, 291) and left guard Mitchell Boyd (6-0, 298) are starters, and a fourth sophomore, Collin Kaalele (6-2, 340) will be a busy reserve.
Center Gapelu Sila (6-0, 266) and left tackle Brysen Faanene (6-1, 290) round out the Bamboolas.
The protection is welcomed by quarterback Jared Hakuole, who was efficient as a junior last season. Providing additional blocking is his twin brother, Jordan, who has moved to fullback.
The backfield has depth with utility man Scotland Smith and sophomore Tyler Taumua. Smith rushed for 90 yards on just 11 carries in a 26-7 nonconference win at Campbell on Friday.
The skinny: The strength of the team may be the linebacking corps of Justin Vele (6-0, 224), Lancelot Williams (6-0, 211) and Charles Tauaefa (5-10, 232). Up front and in the secondary, the Govs are unproven. Sophomore defensive end Keanu Foki (6-1, 250) and Jarome Faamata (6-10, 240) join the line’s lone returning starter, Ioane Sagapolu (6-0, 275).
The graduation of All-State defensive back Alvin Faamausili leaves questions for a young secondary. Junior cornerback Leland Mitchell could shine in a starting role.
X factor: Placekicker Andrew Gangloff came through with two fields against Campbell. If the Govs have a winner in Gangloff, those low-scoring defensive duels in the OIA playoffs could tilt in their favor.
Coach: Reggie Torres
Last year: 12-1 (9-0 OIA Red)
On paper: Defense remains a cornerstone at Kahuku, particularly at linebacker. Ben Mamea (6-0, 217) was an All-State first-team selection last season. T.J. Tito (5-11, 226) was a second-team pick.
Tigi Hill (6-2, 210) is an imposing figure at safety, while sophomore cornerback Kawehena Johnson (5-7, 140) has already become a shrewd defender.
Weapons on offense? Plentiful. Tight end Shairone Thompson (6-5, 199) and wide receiver Punga Vea (6-1, 160) are especially effective in play-action. Thompson, who also plays basketball, made his share of catches last season on third-down.
Evan Moe (6-0, 213) has good chemistry with the receiving corps, but the bread and butter remains a stout ground attack. Galeai “Mua” Malufau (5-10, 178), Tyrone Brown (5-10, 170) and fullback Fonoivasa Mataafa (5-9, 212) are each capable of big production.
The offensive line is another group of potential D-I college recruits, including All-State first-team selection Jamal Napeahi (6-1, 285) and second-team pick Steven Siilata (6-0, 250).
The skinny: Mass talent is one thing, but balance and chemistry is rare. This may be the most effective passing game at Kahuku since Inoke Funaki’s senior year at quarterback.
X factor: The one area that seems to be slightly down is special teams now that long-range placekicker Cameron Mercado’s prep career ended. Mercado regularly sent kickoffs deep for touchbacks.
Coach: Gary Rosolowich
Last year: 4-6 (3-5 OIA Red)
On paper: The classic I formation is still in the playbook, but the Surfriders have tested the shotgun many times already this season. Sophomore Kahaku Iaea has enormous upside, but he’ll approach that only if he continues to get reps as the starter. He began with efficiency against Baldwin, hitting a number receivers on crossing routes, but had less success the rest of the night as the visitors won 19-10.
Talent is spread across the field with Word of Life transfer Awa Poggi (5-8, 160) trying his hand at safety and ‘Iolani transfer Kila Zuttermeister inserted at receiver. Another wideout, Eric Lum, is a deep threat and also has game-changing capability as a placekicker. He drilled a 45-yard field goal against Baldwin.
Chevy Mikaele has made the transition from quarterback to defensive end, joining Ethan Mahaulu (6-4, 215) on the edges.
The skinny: Kailua’s line is large, as usual, and probably equipped to play smashmouth football if Rosolowich desires. Getting the timing down on the new shotgun/flex option set with the receiver in motion (fly) was a bugaboo against Baldwin as Kailua accumulated 130 penalty yards.
X factor: If and when the timing comes around, the Surfriders are in position to threaten the Red East’s perennial leaders with something a little blue and a little new.
Coach: Will Lobendahn, first year
Last year: 3-5 (3-4 OIA White)
On paper: Running back Josh Gonda (5-11, 215) is one of the state’s top rushers, but has rested through scrimmages and nonconference games thus far while healing up from an injury. He’ll run behind a line that includes senior center Harlan Lopes (6-1, 250).
Heralded middle linebacker Jarrin Inagaki (5-10, 210) and defensive end Seth Keolanui (6-2, 245) spearhead the defensive unit. Safety Cody-Andrew Cadirao (5-11, 185) brings experience to the secondary.
Senior quarterback Sitelimani Latu (5-10, 165) has a big receiver to target in Jourdan Solomon (6-3, 220).
The skinny: The Cougars are movin’ on up on the East side. Last year’s middling record in Division II may not be promising, but a solid group of returnees is promising.
X factor: Keolanui doubles as a tight end, as do several Cougars. If they can avoid injuries, Keolanui’s versatility may become a huge factor.
Coach: Arnold Martinez
Last year: 10-2 (10-0 OIA White)
On paper: The arrival of running back Charles Spencer, who was a Maui Interscholastic League first-team pick at running back, is a huge plus for Na Menehune. The 5-10, 195-pound senior rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown on just 11 attempts in a 28-20 nonconference win over McKinley last week.
Martinez’s squad isn’t straying from its successful formula just because it has moved up to Division I. Quarterback Keven Amaral (6-1, 164) threw just four passes while the ground attack tallied 31 carries.
The first-year starter at quarterback has protection up front, led by left guard Kekuapono Kalua (5-11, 270).
Senior Richard Villasenor (6-2, 240), who has a scholarship offer from New Mexico State, is active at defensive end and tight end. He caught a 6-yard touchdown pass last week.
In the trenches, he’ll get help from sturdy defensive tackle Jordan Tanioka (5-11, 245), among others. Linebacker Martin Taulele (5-10, 183) is another key stopper.
The skinny: Moanalua’s running game is as much about timing and finesse as anything — not the usual bulldozing type of attack common to run-first teams in the Red Conference. The pressure will be on Amaral, one of their basketball standouts, to keep defenses honest.
X factor: Slotback/receiver Michael Egami (5-9, 155) has been versatile and valuable in the past. His ability to lead at quarterback for a key stint last season helped Na Menehune finish White Conference play unbeaten.
Coach: Pat Silva
Last year: 3-5 (2-5 OIA Red)
On paper: Facing one of the top teams in the state, Saint Louis, the Rough Riders got a rude awakening in a 48-8 loss. Wide receiver Agaese Tago (5-8, 145) had an exceptional diving catch and also hauled in their lone touchdown from Matthew Lono-Holani (5-7, 165).
Running back/defensive back William Kaina (5-9, 180) was also effective in a limited role as a ballcarrier.
Asten Koki (6-3, 225) is a two-way performer at tight end and defensive line, but as a whole, Roosevelt isn’t big and will have to rely on execution.
The skinny: The Rough Riders are committed to the run-and-shoot attack and Lono-Holani was efficient against Saint Louis (15-for-22, 112 yards, no picks). Stopping the run, though, was a challenge. The Crusaders rushed for 319 yards.
X factor: If Roosevelt has to outscore foes to win games, wide receiver Kaipo Pale (6-3, 185) could help. However, he has a lingering ankle injury that was aggravated during Friday’s game.
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser