It takes a team to raise a championship.
It takes a dedicated offensive line to break a state record. Alfred Failauga broke the state record for career rushing yardage earlier in the season, and he keeps building on it each week.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back is averaging 31 carries and 233 yards per game this year. Waipahu relied on Failauga again last Friday in a 44-41 thriller over Aiea in overtime. He rushed for 281 yards and five TDs on 31 carries in the win.
With one regular-season game and likely one more playoff game ahead, Failauga has 5,549 career rushing yards. He also has 60 rushing TDs, all on 874 rushing attempts. None of that is special to him, however, compared to winning the D-I state title last year. The hunger and quest for another crown remains. Waipahu (3-5, 3-2 OIA D-I) is in underdog status at this point.
What makes the ’19 season different is that for all the yardage, Waipahu has chiseled its way to wins. Failauga works the trenches and the edge like a canvas, with all the savvy and efficiency of a college-level ballcarrier. No wasted motion. An extensive understanding of angles and space, and his own blend of explosive cuts, and sometimes, complete trust in his capable blockers in the trenches.
He’s comfortable as a champion, comfortable as a long shot, both as a player and as part of the Marauders. He has come back from a partially-torn meniscus. He has overcome the breakup of his parents’ marriage. He has brothers — five in all — at home. He has brothers — dozens — in the Marauder family. He has dedicated help from coaches, teachers, counselors, all hoping the best for a young man’s dream to play college football.
Failauga chatted with Hawaii Prep World on Saturday, less than 24 hours after the big win over Aiea.
Favorites and Q&A
> To me, growing up, I wasn’t a Saints fan until they actually took the Super Bowl, so I jumped on the bandwagon. But being able to watch that guy, the way he cuts. He’s got a bunch of moves and I was really inspired by that. When I was in third grade, I remember juking, but I don’t know how I did it, but my brothers told me I was juking a lot of people and I ended up scoring. That’s wonderful for a third grader to do that. I’m proud I did that. Seeing Reggie Bush do his juke moves and I wanted to do that.
New Orleans Saints
> We’re doing good right now.
Drew Brees is out with his thumb injury.
> Teddy Bridgewater is actually pretty good, though. For us to win against the Seahawks, I’m OK with that. There’s a lot of Seahawks fans out there. They need to win all these games (until Brees returns). We’ve got a lot of good players.
Food at home
> Basically, I live off of saimin. Ramen in the package, or Cup O’Noodles, or the bowl saimin. It’s the fastest thing to make. My dad makes a lot of food, but we eat before he comes home. We try to make sure he doesn’t cook that much for us. He works for a long time. Wakes up at 5 in the morning and gets off at 5 in the afternoon. My older brothers buy pizza and we eat. My dad cooks sometimes when he comes home. Either chicken or he barbecues. My two older brothers are the guys to go to when we barbecue. My brother Christian is like the feau guy.
Food eating out
Panda Express orange chicken
> I started when I was young. My grandpa (Afele) used to take me golfing. He actually let me play and I got older I would go to family events and play golf. Golf takes a lot of accuracy and focus. He actually passed away.
“Lord of the Rings”
> My favorite is probably Return of the Kings. It’s a lot of action, protecting the ring. I’ve seen that a lot of times, so many times, it’ll come on TV, Channel 42 and I’ll watch until I fall asleep.
> I play on my PS4. Just being able to play with your friends, being able to come to school and all your friends who hop on Fortnite, everyone wants those bragging rights, to the point they want to be the best. Building houses, staying on top and killing people, protecting yourself from dying.
Are you addicted to Fortnite?
> Yes, I am. I don’t really play that much. When I get home after practice, I usually do my homework and fall asleep, but over the weekends, that’s when I mainly play. You can run squads, which is four (people). I usually play with my friends from our football team, Fiva (Tulafale), Logan (Lauti) and we usually fill with another partner. Sometimes Manuele Pulusila, our linebacker.
Does it get in the way of doing homework for some people?
> The people I play with, they procrastinate so hard because they’re playing the game. If you know how to control yourself, you’ll be all right. It’s kind of dangerous at the same time. I usually get in trouble from my dad. He sits in the back and watches us sometimes, “Why do you guys like this game.” I have three younger brothers and we have to share the game. We usually have a tournament. The most kills gets to stay on the game. As of right now, my youngest brother (fifth grade) is the best one.
> I like all kinds of music.
> I have a lot of good teachers.
> 4.0 this quarter. Overall, cumulative 3.0
If you had never played sports, would your GPA be lower or higher?
> It would be lower. Sports motivated me in the way of us having grade checks. I would have been that Fortnite player, go home, sleep, wake up and play the game.
What is the motivation to getting a 4.0 this quarter?
> Staying on top of myself, being able to manage myself as a student-athlete, making sure my grades can fit the college I want to go to.
I’ve taken the ACT and the SAT once. I’m taking the SAT one more time in October.
Do you think you’d have offers if you had a cumulative 4.0?
> Yep, obviously. My counselors are doing a good job of making me understand how the sliding scale works. If our GPA is higher, our SAT can be lower.
Do you have a backup plan if you don’t get to a four-year school?
> I would probably become a construction worker with my dad. Just support the family. Honestly, if you’re going to a JC or D-II or D-III, for me it’s kind of a waste of time. You’re going to another two years of school to try to get that D-I scholarship. It’s not a waste of time, but I don’t really have that much time for that. I believe I could be at the D-I (FBS) level, but it’s God’s plan.
Would you be willing to go to a FCS school?
> I would, depending on the situation.
What does your dad say about the future?
> My dad’s a very motivational person. He inspires me, too. A lot of parents will be hard on their kids to go to college, and my dad is hard on me, but he relies on God’s plan and he said if things don’t work out with the college thing, then it’s all right. Just come home, do whatever God has planned for you. I honestly respect that.
Would you be willing to play another position? Or defense?
> I played defense (when I was younger). I just want to play ball. I’ll play any position. I just love the game of football.
Place to relax
> What you reap is what you sow. I go through that. It means a lot. If you practice hard, you’re basically going to get that dub, but if you just sit down and hope those wins are going to come to you, you’re not going to get them. It has a lot to do with life, too. You can’t just sit there and pray. I told the team that this past week. You can’t just pray and the Lord is going to drop a blessing. You actually have to work within that prayer and that blessing will fall upon you.
> I guess things didn’t work out with my parents. She wasn’t comfortable in the relationship and she decided to do something else. I was in seventh grade (when they divorced). I see her here and there. She’ll come around once in a while and do what she can.
Do you try to forgive her?
> To me, that’s not really my problem. That’s between my mom and my dad. Before, it was kind of hard for me and my brothers. We wouldn’t respect her because she left us. But at the end of the day, she’s my mom and she’s the one who took care of us. I want to give her the respect she deserves. That’s life. Not everything is perfect. It wasn’t the best, but you roll with it. My older brothers understood the most. My mom told them why she left.
What does your dad (Mark) say that you can’t forget?
> Take care of the school (work) and make sure we’re on top of ourselves. He’s on us about our grades, and if we come home with grades he doesn’t like, we get lickings.
With the slipper?
> No, the belt. Whatever belt he has in sight, he’s grabbing it.
Is there a discussion about video games and other distractions?
> Yeah, he would just lick us, no explanation, but sometimes we had explanations. I’m sure every Samoan family would have their kids offer explanations, blaming it on the teacher.
How old were you when you and your older brothers saw the light?
> It was ninth grade. I guess my dad looked at us in a way of, they’re old enough. My grades were good. Playing varsity level football, I’m playing bigger kids and that boosted up my level.
What do your coaches say?
> They’re motivational all around. They lift me up a lot.
Do they say, “Clean the lockerroom!”
> All of us positions (clean up). It’s the linebackers Monday, D-line Tuesday, Wednesday is O-line.
Which positions are the best and worst at cleaning?
> D-line. The D-line coach actually stays back and he’s helping them out, too. Pretty much, all the other positions, everybody is half-(effort).
How has football affected your life?
> Honestly, after football season, I’ll let my body rest and cool down here and there. Work together and bond.
What elementary and middle schools did you attend?
> Waipahu Elementary and Intermediate.
> Waipahu Kings, Waipahu Saints, Waipahu Marauders (JPS).
You never played other sports?
Where have you travelled for sports?
> Las Vegas, 7v7 Pylon, summer of 2018. It was good. Choke good players. I wanted to go again, but I was still recovering from my knee injury from the state championship.
What do you like to do, maybe something you’re good at, that most people don’t know about?
> Tennis. I like playing with my friends. There’s a tennis court down over here or another one (nearby).
Which is better, tennis or golf?
> I play tennis, mostly. Wele has the racquets and balls. Fiva’s parents take us over there to play. His serve is really strong, but I’m actually the best. We haven’t played in a long time, but we’ll get back at it. We have our fun times.
Does it get intense sometimes?
> We always argue. It usually gets so intense that whoever wants the last point usually is lying at that time, but we have that friend on the side not playing, he refs from there. We argue, but we don’t fight. We’re all super tight. We’re brothers.
Time machine. Would you go to the past or future, and who would you want to see?
> Probably go back in time and talk to Martin Luther King. It’s really good that he brought people together. Being able to speak in front of a lot of people and motivate to come together as one, that’s really hard. Knowing the history of segregation and being able to get people to come together. Knowing that segregation still goes on to tis day. That’s something I’d want to go back and talk to him about.
Bucket list. Where would you like to go, or what would you like to do?
> I’d like to go to California. Universal Studios. Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm.
What is the history of your name?
> Alfred is from my grandpa (Afele). That’s my mom’s dad. Uluao is my middle name. It means smart in Samoan.