There is a routine to his awakening each day.
Rise in the darkness of 3 a.m. Trek to the gym. Pound the iron before sunrise.
By the time the sun is up, a summer day awaits for senior Siotame Haunga. He could be helping his dad with maintenance around the St. Francis campus. He could also be on the field drilling away with offensive line coach Whitley Fehoko. It won’t change when school resumes in a month. Tame (TAH-meh), as his family and friends call him, will be on campus with dad by 5 a.m., and the rigors of school and training continue.
“My dad is a landscaper and does a lot of side jobs to send us to private school,” Haunga said.
There’s not much space to do anything else but work. It is a world he thrives in. At 6-foot-2, 306 pounds, Haunga is in transition from a raw athlete, a student more than star, to becoming a prized recruit. He played football as a youth for the Ewa Beach Hammerheads — as a defensive lineman. Since high school began, he made the shift to O-line. This summer, his two years of intensive work, particularly with Fehoko, a former Farrington all-state O-lineman, has been the start of national recognition.
“That’s what led me to him. He doesn’t stop. He’s always wanting to get better and that’s driven me to want to coach him,” Fehoko said. “There wasn’t really anyone else after my younger brothers. We’re out ’til 9:30 at night, training at the parks. I’m trying to instill something my brothers and I have instilled to get to the next level.”
Primarily a left guard who can step in at center, Haunga has racked up one award after another this summer. Fehoko saw his role, taking Haunga under his wing, as a matter of destiny. Especially after seeing that Haunga wears his old number, 65.
“He dominated at the Lineman Challenge at ‘Iolani, got invited to the GIANT Skillz in California and came back with the MVP. Then he went to the Elite Camp at UH and got the MVP also. He had one of the top OL awards at BYU, then dominated and got the MVP at All-Poly.”
Haunga enjoyed the test.
“It’s different from Hawaii. I could actually block them and know what I could do, just be consistent in my blocking,” he said. “
The offers are just two at this point, including one from Adams State, where Derek Faavi is a line coach. That will likely increase, but Haunga is focused on academics and helping his team all he can. With low numbers at line, he will be pressed into defensive line play, though Fehoko would prefer to see that at a minimum.
“I want to limit that to five plays (on defense),” Fehoko said.
The senior has already been through the metamorphosis of St. Francis’ offense, which was a run-heavy enterprise three years ago. Now, the Saints are balanced with a left-side attack that may rate among the best, if not the very best, statewide. Haunga, agile and nimble, is just beginning to master the weight room. His 306 pounds seem more like 240 at LG, simply too powerful for smaller defenders and too savvy for large, slower trenchermen. To his left, junior left tackle Ope Laloulu, a 6-7, 340-pound junior, keeps working every day. It is a dream scenario for junior Jonan Aina-Chaves, who brings explosion and efficiency as a running back — who also was brilliant as an edge rusher during St. Francis’ 1-on-1 trench battles at Farrington on Wednesday afternoon.
Haunga, though, is the seasoned veteran of the group. He has dreams — the biggest being a chance to play for USC — and goals. He just isn’t extremely chatty about it. Haunga simply wants to work, day and night.
Favorite food (at home): Shoyu chicken, spaghetti by mom.
Favorite food (out): L&L chicken katsu.
Hobby outside of sports: None.
Movie: Straight Outta Compton.
Who’s your favorite actor in that?
> Ice Cube.
TV Show: Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Video game: Call of Duty (Infinite Warfare).
Is that based on WWII or more modern?
> No, this is better. You actually have a scope.
Music artist: Ice Cube.
Teacher: Mr. Dave (McCorsky).
> He teaches seniors now. I had his class. He teaches history. He’s a relaxed teacher. Laid back. If he knows you don’t know the material, he really helps you.
(Whitley Fehoko: Tame’s father was in the military. Tame was born the day before 9/11. His dad was watching it on TV and he thought it was a movie, holding Tame in his hands. He went on his tour to Iraq. His dad told me, until Tame was 9 years old, he was home only three years.)
Place to relax: Home.
What your mom says that you cannot forget: Always put God first.
What your dad says that you cannot forget: School comes before football.
How does your sport affect your daily life: It doesn’t really change it. Training is a lifestyle for me.
What elementary and middle schools did you attend: Ewa Elementary and Ewa Makai Middle School. We just recently moved to Waipahu. In Big Boyz, I played for Ewa Beach Hammerheads, four years.
When did you start working with your dad?
> Ever since seventh or eighth grade. When we had time during elementary school, we’d go with him.
How many siblings do you have?
> I have three brothers and three sisters. I’m the third oldest.
What are you good at that would surprise most people?
> Just working landscaping, construction, things like that.
Bucket list. What are the places you’d like to travel to?
> Tonga, California and Fiji. I want to visit and meet my relatives. My dad was born here, but he lived there for four, five years. California, I just want to be anywhere near USC.
> A lot of my friends were born there and came over here. I heard a lot of stories about the place.
What’s the history and background of your name?
> I was named after my mother’s brother.
What is he like?
> I never really met him. He’s in Tonga. My mom’s from Tonga. I never met my namesake.
What does it mean?
> I don’t know. I’m going to ask my uncle about that.
What about Haunga?
> I don’t really know. Our other family name is Tuipulotu.
So that’s like Kaniela Tuipulotu, who went from Lahainaluna to Kahuku. So how did the name change?
> It got changed because of my grandpa.
What’s the history of Tuipulotu and Haunga?
> I don’t know. All I know is we’re from Leimatu‘a.
> Just to my family and friends who have helped me come to this point. I appreciate what they’ve done for me.
What would be the perfect school?
> USC has been my dream school. I always watched USC play. That’s what made me like them.
What’s your prediction for St. Francis? Is the personality of the team different with a new senior class?
> It’s a better personality. We want to win the championship. We have a good quarterback. Jonah (Aina-Chaves).
So Bubba (Akana) is playing only baseball now because of his college scholarship?
> Yes. I think he could still play wide receiver or safety, but it looks like he won’t be playing.
‘Ope at left tackle and you at left guard. What’s it been like helping him?
> He big and strong on the left side.
Do you see yourself as a bodyguard for Bubbah?
> All of our O-line are bodyguards for Bubbah and his brother (Jonan, QB).
So what’s your prediction?
> We’re going to be state champs.