Santiago leads USA Today defense

Kahuku safety Keala Santiago was judged the best defensive player in Hawaii by USA Today. Krystle Marcellus / Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Kahuku safety Keala Santiago was judged the best defensive player in Hawaii by USA Today. Krystle Marcellus / Honolulu Star-Advertiser

The USA Today released its all state team for Hawaii football, and the names at the top are the same as the Star-Advertiser’s list.

Vavae Malepeai of Mililani is the offensive player of the year, and Kahuku’s Keala Santiago and Vavae Tata are the state’s top defensive player and coach.

The list is representative of the whole state, especially on defense where the Red Raiders landed only two players with Hirkley Latu joining Santiago.

Tata was adamant with local media that each member of his historic defense be named first team on local lists. He got nine defenders on the OIA All-Star team voted on by the coaches and eight on the Star-Advertiser’s list.

The USA Today limited the haul to two, with three more on the second team.

Ten different schools have a player on the 11-man first-team defense, but Isaac Slade-Matautia is listed as a player for Kaiser instead of Saint Louis.

Malepeai is joined by Trojans teammates Kalakaua Timoteo and Andru Tovi on the first team. Kapolei and Saint Louis both put two players on the first team offense.

The list combines Division I and Division II.

Here is the link to the complete team:


  1. Mahatma Gandhi January 1, 2016 4:50 pm

    I would put Waianae’s 1979 defense right up there with Kahuku’s 2015 D as the OIA’s best ever Defense. Had Max Maneafaiga, Watson Mahaulu in the defensive backfield. Joe Masaniai at linebacker. Bob Sylva, Elgin Awong, Fred Toilolo and Jerry Faagai on the DL. It was last year’s state semifinal game between Puanhou and Kahuku that was a hint of what was to come this year.

  2. Jerry Campany January 1, 2016 5:50 pm

    Seven shutouts in a row!

    8/24/1979 Kailua W, 25-0
    8/31/1979 Leilehua W, 28-13
    9/7/1979 Castle W, 35-12
    9/13/1979 Moanalua W, 41-0
    9/21/1979 Kaimuki W, 53-0
    9/27/1979 Mililani W, 34-0
    10/12/1979 Pearl City W, 35-0
    10/18/1979 Waipahu W, 27-0
    10/26/1979 Campbell W, 40-0
    11/8/1979 Nanakuli W, 34-0
    11/15/1979 Radford W, 14-7
    11/23/1979 Kaiser L, 20-13

    All state firs team: Max Maneafaiga, Fred Toilolo, Joe Masaniai (advertiser only)
    OIA first team: Jerry Faagai, Robert Sylva, Watson Mahaulu

  3. Mahatma Gandhi January 2, 2016 5:05 am

    Jerry, you can throw out the first 2 games. Those were pre-season games where everyone plays. And back then, Kaimuki and Waipahu were putting out good teams every year. Before St Louis and the ILH started gutting the OIA of their top tier talent. Back then, maybe the ILH had 1 player per year recruited from the OIA. My guess is now each ILH team has 10 players a year recruited. Not just Div 1, but Div 2 also. You know St Franics had a lot of Tongan recruits on their team last year. Iolani too. The school that claims they don’t recruit athletes.
    So good was that 1979 Waianae D that Robin Saragosa was coming off the bench. He was a Jr that year, one of the best Waianae sfaeties I have ever seen play that position for the Seariders. He played every game, but was coming off the bench. Meth head, I hope got got his life in order.

  4. Smoking Duck January 2, 2016 6:33 am

    I looked up the stats for that Waianae-Kaiser 1979 OIA Championship game wondering how Kaiser was able to score 20 points. Apparently Kaiser capitalized on 2 Waianae turnovers deep inside Waianae territory. Waianae won the stats that game. Back then the OIA Championship meant everything. That was the ticket to the Prep Bowl game.

    Waianae Kaiser
    first downs 19 7
    Rushing yardage 272 18
    passing yardage 2 113
    passes 4-16-1 6-13-1
    punts 4-43.3 6-38.3
    fumbles lost 1 0
    penalties 4-30 3-15

  5. hi808 January 2, 2016 8:04 am

    Im curious how much more impressive it is in these days for Kahukus D to shut down the high powered spread game. Everything is subjective BUT back in 1979 did Waianae face prolific QB’s, RB’S, WR’s that are statistically setting state records? add to that argument the ILH stacking their teams via recruiting elite talent STATE WIDE, I think shutting down St.Louis in the title game this year was the determining factor for many to claim Kahukus D the Greatest.

  6. Ua Ova Lou Taimi January 2, 2016 12:02 pm

    @hi808 – I wondered the same thing.

    Since 1979 the game has evolved in leaps and bounds. Kahuku’s 2015 Defense is far better than that of Waianae’s 1979 for the mere fact that the game has evolved offensively. To cover ground the way this defense did is amazing. But it’s hard to compare generations because the game has evolved with each generation. That Waianae defense was the best for that generation and this Kahuku 2015 defense is the best in this generation.

  7. Mahatma Gandhi January 2, 2016 3:55 pm

    Ua Ova Lou Taimi, I think that is what former Waianae head football coach Larry Ginoza would say, different eras. Back in 1979, Kaiser was the only OIA team throwing the ball 20+ times a game. And yes, the STATEWIDE recruiting has become insane. St Louis had numerous starters from outer islands this year. Nate Nerbig, Tristan Nichols and Drew Kobayashi. So excessive is ILH recruiting nowadays that McKinley had to end their football season prematurely this year. And a Div 2 had to be created. Kaimuki did have a 1st team all-state, but I bet he recently moved from Samoa and nobody in the ILH had heard of him.

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