The two new coaches in the Open division have taken the fight to the ground.
Just over a month into the season, Kahuku’s Sterling Carvalho and Daniel Sanchez of Farrington have decided to go with what has worked for their prestigious programs, leaning on the running games that made them perennial state contenders.
Carvalho, who took over for Makoa Freitas on Kahuku’s head coaching carousel, has run the ball on 164 of his team’s 279 offensive snaps this year. That 59 percent mark is up from the 55 percent Freitas had in his only year at the helm but the number includes quarterback sacks as rushing attempts and the running game is usually ahead of the passing game in the early going. So the future of the offense up North is still yet to be written, but the foundation has been built the way it always has.
Sanchez took over for former teammate Randall Okimoto and has expanded upon the philosophy he and his old backfield mate share. The Governors have only put the ball into the air 37 percent of the time this year, down from the 41 percent Okimoto dialed up last year. Look for the Governors to call on even more runs tonight in their rivalry game against Kamehameha’s stout pass defense.
A lot of play calling depends on talent available, of course, but both coaches seem to share the same philosophies on sharing the wealth that their predecessors did. Carvalho has called on Wes Alo Maiava for 37 percent of his team’s rushing attempts so far this season, down from the 41 percent that Freitas gave to Enoch Nawahine last year. Vavae Tata‘s final year on the North Shore was much more diplomatic, with Harmon Brown getting the call only 31 percent of the time to lead his backfield mates.
Alo-Maiava’s 50 carries are second in the Open Division to Vincent Terrell‘s 59 in divisional games, but he trails teammate Toalei Lefau in yards 203-156. Lefau is fifth in the league in rushing and second in the OIA to Sky Lactaoen of Campbell. Farrington doesn’t have a running back in the top 10 in the league in rushing, a rarity for the program. The Governors don’t have a player in the top 10 in either rushing, passing or receiving.
Sanchez is doing the same thing as last year, getting 27 percent of his rush attempts from Raymond Millare after Samsen Tanuvasa got a quarter of them last year. Part of that might be backfield depth and another part might be the lack of a true horse, as all-world Challen Faamatau gobbled up 56 percent of his team’s carries two years ago.