21ST IN SERIES
For two years in a row, Kailua coach Joseph Wong has had to play large chunks of the season with backup quarterbacks who were called in when the starters were hurt. They did a great job, according to Wong, but they were slotted to play elsewhere.
This year, he feels fortunate to have two quarterbacks at the position — Cole Weber and Raynen Ho-Mook — and likely not have any fall-off if either gets hurt. Ho-Mook got most of the snaps in the Surfriders’ two games to start 2018 — losses of 44-6 to Mililani and 20-14 in overtime to Leilehua.
“As usual, we’re going to take what the defense gives us and somewhat rely on the line and running game,” Wong said. “Try to keep the chains moving. Both are good passers, Raynen is more of a running QB and Cole is more of a pocket passer.”
Wong is happy to have a bunch of three-year starters, including John Sniffen, Keiki Kalima, Orlando Pagan and Leighton Russell. He shared his thoughts on them (and one more leader) below:
>> John Sniffin, defensive end: “In his sophomore year, he came up to varsity and played opposite (standout) Christian (Mejia). He understands what it takes to be great. He’s heard everything from me. He knows I’m not going to take anything but his best. He played lights out in our scrimmages and we hope he continues for the rest of the season. I know he will. I hold him to higher expectations than anybody else.”
>> Keiki Kalima, noseguard, and offensive guard: “We’ll use him on offense when we need him to come in at guard, but his primary position is noseguard. I’ve got a lot of nicknames for him, including Big Nasty. He’s an immovable object. One strong noseguard. This kid can be that guy, man.”
>> Orlando Pagan, offensive line: “He can play everywhere across the offensive line. He’s started since he was a sophomore. He gets the worst from me because I expect a lot out of him and he understands that. It’s even harder for him because my brother (Kevin Pagan), his dad, is the O-Line coach. He’s been around the program since before he played football.”
>> Leighton Russell, linebacker: “He’s been a linebacker for us for what feels like 10 years already. He’s a hard-nosed linebacker who has been all-conference since his sophomore year. We are counting on big things from him, leadership as well as on the field.”
>> Kaniala Williams, wide receiver/safety: “He’ll get in situations on both sides, and can be starter both ways. He’s really athletic and makes a lot of plays offensively and defensively.”
Wong makes no secret of the desire for the Surfriders to be on top of Division I.
“That’s what we’re trying to get done,” he said. “That’s the goal. If our QBs can stay healthy, we have a really good chance to be at the top. You’re a QB, not a battering (ram). You’ve got to take care of your body. This is a physical game.
“I feel really good with the growth that we’ve had from spring. We’ll give anybody a fit if we stay healthy. The defense is playing well and we ha we have a lot of really good quality players on offense.”
Kailua will try to break into the win column Friday night at home against ‘Iolani (1-0).