The format might change, but the players could very well stay the same.
This weekend’s three state championship games could feature four freshman starters, from celebrated quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava of Kahuku to Lahainaluna fullback Joshua Tihada. Mililani has two phenoms expected to hit the field in left guard Sergio Muasau and cornerback Asher Pilanca.
When Maiava takes his first snap in Saturday night’s state Open championship, he will join a list of impressive freshmen and sophomores to start at quarterback in the state’s biggest game of the year. He will also etch his name alone on a list for others to match. No freshman quarterback has ever led his team to a state title.
Maiava hit the season with a lot of hype after getting an offer from Michigan as an eighth grader. The pledge brought national attention, exceeding even that of Kailua’s Reeve Koelher. The offensive lineman was offered a scholarship by Hawaii as an eighth grader who had never played a down of football.
It didn’t quite work out for the Warriors, as the phenom picked up a state title as a sophomore with Saint Louis but left the island to begin his college career.
So Maiava is already part of a select group, but a win would whittle that group down to five: freshmen or sophomore quarterbacks to win a state championship or prep bowl. Timmy Chang and Darnell Arceneaux did it for Saint Louis and Andrew Manley (Leilehua) and Michael Beazley (Waianae) did it in the OIA.
Sophomores to start at QB in a state championship, Division I only
Prep Bowl and Division I only
2013: McKenkzie Milton, Mililani
2011: Larry Tuileta, Punahou
2007: Andrew Manley, Leilehua
2004: Bryant Moniz, Leilehua
1997: Timmy Chang, Saint Louis
1993: Darnell Arceneaux, Saint Louis
1985: Sam Bailey, Waianae
1978: Michael Beazley, Waianae
*Inoke Funaki split time at QB with Vai Funaki as a sophomore in 1999
*Bobby George split time at QB with Kelika Higa as a sophomore in 2000