He prefers comedy over horror.
Honor over glitz.
Noah Bartley would rather watch “The Longest Yard” and “Remember the Titans” than spend time talking about his accolades.
“Titans,” in particular, rings a bell many times over.
“I’ve seen this a million times,” the Kamehameha senior said.
Bartley, better known to family and friends by his middle name, Sio, is featured in today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Off the field, a friendly young man with a smile for everyone. Between the lines, a defensive coordinator’s nightmare.
Kamehameha (2-1) is No. 1 in the Star-Advertiser Top 10, an outright top flier this week after sharing the spot with Saint Louis a week earlier. Wins over Saint Louis and Punahou were hard to come by, and so were votes from the panel of coaches and media. The Warriors weren’t close to being a unanimous No. 1 this week, but opposing coaches know who they see when Kamehameha unveils its offensive game plan.
Bartley has 349 yards and four touchdowns on the ground plus nine receptions for 144 yards and one more TD. The numbers pop, but coaches are blown away by the way the 5-foot-9, 180-pound running back changes a game.
Rod York, Mililani: “Just watching him on tape, he is a mixture of power and speed. His skill set includes running between the tackles, running outside zones, blocking and pass catching. He is a truly complete back. He will make the first man miss. Feet never stop, and he continually drives three or four guys for extra yards during the entire game, especially in the fourth quarter,” York said. “He reminds me of (former Tampa Bay running back) Mike Alstott. Bartley is a beast, the root of Kamehameha’s success, along with their improved defense.”
Sterling Carvalho, Kahuku: “He runs with power and purpose. Sets up his runs and blockers to gain additional yards. Has great vision and balance. He reminds me of Zealand Matagi. Hard for any one player to bring him down. He runs through arm tackles, has the balance and power to keep his legs moving and finish runs.”
Darren Hernandez, Kapolei: “I like his running style. It is pretty unique. He’s a no-nonsense, violent runner who is also slippery and has great balance. He reminds me of former Farrington running back Matt Bell, not only because of his ability to be a receiving threat out of the backfield, but because of his physical running ability.”
Kamehameha coach Abu Ma‘afala likens Bartley’s laid-back demeanor to a former NFL great.
“He reminds me of my college teammate, Marshawn Lynch. He has a special way of bringing everyone together,” Ma‘afala said. “Noah is just built different. He has a great support system at home in Mr. Savili and Mrs. Evelyn Bartley. They raised a solid young man who is kind, giving and has an infectious personality. He is focused and has goals to play in college, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously.”
Bartley, like Lynch, spreads the wealth.
“They want everyone to have success. Money Lynch used to rotate himself out of plays, making like he was tired so our other running back, Justin Forsett, could get his touches. Noah has that same mindset in that it’s not all about him,” said Ma‘afala, who played at Cal and Hawaii after an esteemed high school career at Kamehameha.
Training year-round, running the beach with his dad holding a resistance band, absorbing the knowledge of position coach Steven Rowe — it adds up to a spectacular season so far for Bartley and his offensive line.
“There are two positions in football that I believe players are born to play: running back and linebacker. His instinct, vision and feel in the run game, you can’t teach it. So he’s the type of player that fits any system,” Ma‘afala said. “He makes us coaches look really good.”
Bartley’s favorite players are Barry Sanders and the late Walter Payton.
“That’s a great comparison. That’s funny because his nickname in the spring was ‘Sweetness’,” Ma‘afala noted, alluding to Payton’s nickname. “Physical, relentless, great vision and balance. Ability to run away from defenders. Similar to what I saw in Marshawn Lynch every day in practice and games.”
According to Ma‘afala, Bartley’s most underrated skill is blocking.
“He is a complete back. I wouldn’t say we’re surprised because all our coaches knew that he was going to be a special player in our program, but he thoroughly impresses me with his leg drive and ability to move piles after contact. He runs a lot bigger than he is,” Ma‘afala added. “He’s a Division I (college) guy. We’re working hard to get him and some of our other guys a shot.”
The work never stops, not with success.
“I’m not really surprised. Me and my linemen been working together for the past three, four years. We made a bond that’s hard to break,” Bartley said after the win over Saint Louis. “I love my O-line. I’m about to treat them after this. They really take care of me.”
At some point, maybe in the not-too-distant-future, the Warrior O-line will sit down and get a large sample of their running back’s culinary skills. Sometimes, nothing beats a home-cooked meal. A massive smorgasbord from one end of the table to the other. Reminiscing about the year football returned.
Recognition from all corners of Hawaii’s prep football world is welcome. Bartley takes it all in stride.
“I was at Sports Medicine and one of the dads from Punahou came up to me and said, ‘Good job. I like the way you run.’ It always feels good when people say that, but I don’t want to get a big head.”
The praise doesn’t change Bartley’s stance.
“Most of it comes from my football boys. I just joke around with it. I say, ‘Thank you,’ but I try to stay humble with it. I don’t really get my head wrapped around it like that,” he said. “I don’t want to change my perspective with how I play.”
Kamehameha will meet Kahuku for a scrimmage on Saturday at Skippa Diaz Stadium.
Noah Bartley’s lockdown staples
Top 3 movies/shows
1. “Remember the Titans.”
“I’ve seen this a million times. The football team just reminds me of a dream team, going through adversity.”
2. “The Longest Yard.”
“I’ve seen this one six or seven times. The Adam Sandler one.”
3. “Space Jam.”
“The first one. I didn’t see the one with LeBron James yet.”
Top 3 food/snack/drink
1. Fried chicken.
“Any type of chicken I like it. My dad makes some good fried chicken, but there’s this place in Kaneohe, KJ’s. I like the plain (fried chicken).”
“There’s one called fa‘ausi. It’s like taro caramelized in coconut milk and brown sugar. It’s like kulolo, but Samoan.”
3. Pastele stew.
“My dad (Savili) , he just taught me how to make it. He cooks everything.”
Top 3 music artists
1. Brownzville – “Breezin’ ”
2. The Dove Shack – “Summertime in the LBC”
3. Barrington Levy – “Too Experienced”
New life skill: cooking.
“I learned how to cook a lot of food. Pastele stew, palusami, shoyu chicken, spare ribs. That’s about it, mostly the ones I like.”
“I’ll shout out my O-line: “Scotty (Kealiikupono Dikilato), Denzel (Unutoa), Hiapo (Kaapana), big Micah (Cravalho-Meyers) and Marques (Hickson). Hammers right there. I love those guys. My H-back, Shayden Iokia. My running backs coach Steven Rowe, and my two other RBs, Micah Mahiai and Sunrise Solatario.”