SIXTH IN A SERIES
In simple terms from the outside looking in, it appears Daniel Sanchez has two jobs to do. One is to make sure that Farrington doesn’t fall back a step. The other, if can, is to put the pedal a little more to the metal within the next few years.
Sanchez took over as the head coach for Randall Okimoto, who spent 16 years at the helm and compiled a 116-67-3 mark. Under Okimoto, the Govs were always a force in the OIA, but never seemed to break through in crunch time in the playoffs.
Now, it falls on Sanchez — Okimoto’s high school teammate at Farrington in the early 1990s — to at least maintain Farrington’s status as a year-in, year-out contender. It will be a tough job and there are no easy games in the new OIA-ILH alliance Open Division.
Sanchez, a longtime assistant under Okimoto, took last year off to watch his son play at Kamehameha. Now he is back with more responsibility than ever.
“I learned a lot from watching other schools,” he said. “What they did well I can implement at Farrington. The commitment level this year is one of best I’ve seen. We’re averaging 60-plus guys every single day throughout the whole summer. The players are putting the commitment in, running, lifting, learning a new system. They’re committed to learning. We may surprise some guys out there.
“We went over team expectations, team rules and they know this is the way it’s going to be or they won’t be playing football for us. We set the tone as far as what is expected out of them, and we allowed them to come up with some of their own expectations for themselves.”
Sanchez instituted year-round tutoring that is required for all freshmen and for any player who doesn’t participate in another sport.
“It’s not just football, we want athletes,” Sanchez said. “If you’re playing another sport, it means you’re taking care of your grades. We encourage them to play two sports. If they don’t, we encourage them to be in our strength program. We’re bringing something back from the past. If you can be in the 300/100 club (big guys benching 300 pounds or skill guys benching 100 pounds over their weight), you get your picture on the locker room wall. People look up with pride at the guys on the wall. It’s a goal to shoot for. Myself and coach Randall are up there. The kids go, ‘Whoa, you guys were that strong then?’ At one time, Farrington was known as the strongest team. We want to get that back.”
Two players made the club this summer — (300) Logan Faitau and Treshawn Kepa (100).
“We also have a new category, the 1,200 club, which is bench, squad and power clean combined,” Sanchez added.
Sanchez talked about his team leaders:
>> Chris Afe, quarterback: “He’ll play all over the place — quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, some defensive line. He’ll be the overall leader of the team. He’s the most unselfish guy and will do anything to help the team out. He is the most total athlete. Plays volleyball and basketball and is agile for a big (6-foot-1, 240 pounds). He also lost about 20 pounds this year.”
>> Logan Faitau, guard: “Our strongest and best lineman. A throwback to the old Farrington offensive linemen.”
>> Sale Collins, center: A smart kid, a great student of the game. An on and off the field leader.”
>> Samsen Tanuvasa, linebacker and running back: “Samsen will be the heart of our defense. He’s been there three years and he’s going to make plays for us. He’s tough. An unselfish kid also willing to play wherever we need him. His dad Sam Tanuvasa played middle linebacker with us at Farrington. His dad was stockier. He could have hurt us every day in practice, but he’s such a kind guy he never did hurt us. Samsen has that tenacity, has that bloodline — go after people and hit them.”
>> Wendell Alob, safety: “Last year, he had a lot of interceptions and was probably one of the most underrated guys on defense. He shows up and works hard every day. He doesn’t say much, but gets the job done. He’s also taking reps at QB because Chris Afe broke his hand.”
>> RJ Tagase, quarterback: “He’s a freshman transfer from Kapolei. He’s working closely with our quarterbacks coach Elroy Chong, and he’s making tremendous strides. He has an arm like a senior. He’s a student of the game, and he comes out to always improve.”
Sanchez sees two-time top-tier state champion Saint Louis, Kahuku and Mililani as the teams to beat in the alliance Open Division.
“In the last 10 years, those programs have been to the big games,” he said.
“As of right now, we want to change the tradition around here and not fall short like the previous years and make sure we set role models to younger players,” said Afe, who is hoping to return to the lineup for the second regular season game. “Hopefully we get the championship and go on to the state championships. It will be good to finally go against the ILH (in the regular season). It’s going to make all teams in Hawaii better.”
The Govs went 5-5 in 2017, beating Radford and then losing to Waianae 37-31 in the OIA playoffs. They play at Division I Leilehua in a nonleague game Aug. 3. Farrington’s alliance opener is Aug. 11 at Mililani.
Next in series: Aiea Na Alii.