TRENCH WARFARE: Manu vs. Matagi

Mililani defensive tackle Rex Manu has offers from Hawaii, Oregon, Stanford, Colorado and Utah among others. Photo by Krystle Marcellus/Star-Advertiser
Mililani defensive tackle Rex Manu has offers from Hawaii, Oregon, Stanford, Colorado and Utah among others. Photo by Krystle Marcellus/Star-Advertiser

Mililani defensive tackle Rex Manu is one of the top two high school football recruits from Hawaii still uncommitted. Saturday night at Aloha Stadium, he leads the Trojans defense into battle against Farrington in the semifinal of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships.

Manu (6-2, 290) was featured in a Trench Warfare episode earlier this season and is back again. The former Stanford commit has opened up his recruiting and is big on Oregon, Washington, Washington State, Colorado and Vanderbilt according to


Oct. 4: Farrington’s Breiden Fehoko vs. Campbell’s Boss Tafai
Oct. 23: Mililani’s Rex Manu vs. Campbell’s Amosa brothers
Oct. 23: Campbell’s Josiah Mageo vs. Mililani’s Jordan Agasiva
Oct. 24: Punahou’s Canton Kaumatule vs. Saint Louis’ Fred Ulu-Perry
Oct. 24: Saint Louis’ Tanielu Evaimalo vs. Punahou’s Semisi Uluave
Oct. 31: Mililani’s Andru Tovi vs. Kahuku’s Salanoa-Alo Wily
Oct. 31: Kahuku’s Aleeki Vihimahi vs. Mililani’s Kaimana Padello
Nov. 7: Maui’s Logan Cabrera vs. Farrington’s Tatum Tanuvasa
Nov. 7 Hilo’s Kiliona Pomroy vs. Kahuku’s Siotame Uluave

Manu will go up against Farrington OL Louis Matagi (6-3, 384).

As always, this is purely for fun. Each series is scored like a boxing round with a 10-point must system.


Matagi holds up Manu on the first play as Farrington tries to run behind but Manu sheds the block and makes the tackle. Solid pass block by Matagi on next play allows for a completion. Run is away from Manu on play 3. Manu moves left on the next play and is up against Jonathan Leusogo‐Leae (6-2, 420) and gets no pressure. Third-and-four and Manu is double teamed as they run behind Leusogo-Leae’s block for a first down. Manu stays to the left and goes up against Leusogo-Leae, using his speed to beat the blocker before getting picked up by the fullback, Freedom Alualu. Another double team as Farrington runs up the middle to the other side of Manu. Third-and-9 and Manu is one-on-one with Jason Taua and Taua does a great job standing him up. Govs punt but Manu was controlled by the o-line on first drive. 10-9 Matagi and Co.


Manu settling in opposite Leusogo-Leae. Manu gives him a good, hard rush on first play but Leusogo-Leae is tough to move. No chance for Manu on the next play as Leusogo-Leae does an excellent job keeping him in front. Manu right over the center, Taua, and has a chance to make a tackle on the running play up the middle but the backer bounces off. Manu gets some pressure up field on Leusogo-Leae but the pass is quick to the outside. Perfect block by Taua springs the running back for good yardage as he races right past Manu. Double-team pancake as Manu hits the turf. Farrington doing a nice job. Manu over on Matagi now and is one-on-one. Gets a hand on the quarterback but the pass is away for a first down. Manu right over center now. Taua and Leusogo-Lee double team Manu effectively. Leusogo-Lee with a great block on Manu but Farrington fumbles inside the 10. O-line doing its job though. 10-9 Farrington.


Manu goes up on Taua on first play and Taua with a nice play on the run right at Manu, who assists on the tackle. Manu goes lightly up against Taua again on a quick throw. Manu makes a great move on Taua but the quick throw doesn’t allow him to pursue the QB. First down. Manu is double teamed on a run but gets off of both blocks and makes the tackle. Exactly what you want out of your defensive tackle. Manu moves over on Leusogo-Leae and makes a good move left but it’s a screen pass. Close to a hold there on Leusogo-Leae. Third down. Quick throw is incomplete as Manu got a step inside on Taua. Manu 10-9.


Farrington ball on its 1. Trojans stack the line to their right and Farrington run to its right. Had to get a good block of Manu by Taua and Taua delivers for positive yardage. Manu gets away with a grab of the jersey on the next play but blows past Taua and has to be blocked by the running back to allow Liana time to throw. Third down. Manu gets the win beating the block of left guard Sheldon Poutoa and helping to bottle up the hole to force no gain on the run. 10-9 Manu.


Big kick return has Manu starting on his own 25 on defense. Lost Manu on first play but he was a good 5 yards down field before getting in on the tackle. Nowhere to go around Taua and Leusogo-Leae who are a combined 738 pounds of man. Run is a pitch left away from Manu. Taua with a great block on Manu which leads to a TD. 10-9 Farrington.


Quick pass away from Manu as Farrington is in hurry-up mode near the end of the half. Manu moves over to face Matagi and Matagi gets him on the first move but Manu spins off. Too late to get to the QB however. Third down. Manu uses his speed and just blows by Matagi. He has Liana in his grasp but he misses on the sack. Mililani’s defense cleans it up though. Speed killed oon that play as Farrington has to punt. 10-9 Manu.

Halftime notes: It’s 3-3 at the break as Farrington’s offensive line has done a pretty good job on Manu, who I’m sure is mad at himself for missing on that sack late in the half. He’s gone up against the center mostly with help from both guards. Definitely a toss up through one half.


Farrington opens with its jumbo package. Manu gets inside on Matagi but the running back runs through his tackle attempt. Manu gets inside the center again but the run is outside. Third-and-3. Manu goes up against Leusogo-Leae and gets shoved right back by the 420-pounder as Farrington runs right behind for a first down. But now there’s a flag. Dead ball personal foul on Farrington but it’s a first down. Matagi gets help from Taua on a nice run block that opens up a small hole. It’s tough going in there against Farrington’s monster O-line. False start on Farao Maileoi, the left tackle. Manu gets some headway up the field but it’s a completed pass over the middle. Third-and-5. Another good block by Matagi and Taua. First down Govs. Taua springs a first down run with a block on Manu, who touches Mamiya but can’t get him down. Taua had Manu wrapped up. Another big hole up the middle as the Govs pound away on Manu and the Trojans DL. Second-and-short and Leusogo-Leae moves early. Matagi gets in on the fun blocking Manu. First down Govs. Manu hasn’t taken a play off though. He’s still game for a fight every snap. Manu is engaged with Leusogo-Leae and Matagi goes low. I think that could have been called for an illegal block. Manu beats Taua, forces the fullback to try and get him which allows his linebackers to stop the run. Nice play by Manu there. Manu blocked by Taua there but it’s incomplete and Farrington will punt. Govs controlled line of scrimmage there though. 10-9 Matagi and Co.


Mililani’s DL all move left at the snap and Farrington runs right for a big gain. Manu beats Taua clean and goes for the sack. Liana scrambles away. Could have called a hold there on Taua but I think another hold is going to be called. Great speed move by Manu. When those guards spread out and don’t bunch, Manu has room to use his speed to make plays. When they bunch, it’s tough going. Manu moves left to go up against Leusogo-Leae. QB draw gets a couple. Got backed up there. Manu beats Leusogo-Leae inside but the fullback picks up the block. Pass is incomplete. Punt. 10-10.


Manu double teamed and can’t generate rush. Leusogo-Leae with the nice block. Taua one-on-one on Manu and effective. Fourth-and-1. Manu goes up against Leusogo-Leae but Leusogo-Leae is too big as the Govs run right behind him for a first down. Manu beats Taua on the next play and rushes in for the sack. Kaimana Padello got there first but Manu helps clean it up. Next play is a scramble. Manu gets past Leusogo-Leae and Liana tries to run, SMACK DAB INTO MANU. Manu with the sack. Back-to-back HUGE plays by the senior. Manu getting pumped up. Finally breaks through to make a big-time play. It’s going to be fourth and really, really long after a dead ball personal foul. Farrington punts with 4:33 left. 10-9 Manu.


Manu is up on Poutoa for second time. Not much going on there. Taua goes low on Manu and that’s effective but the rest of the Trojans pick up the sack. Third-and-long and Manu comes out. Farrington picks it up. First defensive play all night Manu wasn’t on the field I believe. He’s back out there now for first down. Liana is wrapped up by Padello for a sack but is stuck on top of him and Manu comes flying in to finish it off. That looked painful. Second-and-long. Touchdown Govs. Great block on Manu gave Liana time. 10-10.

Final notes: We score it a draw at 4-4-2. Manu came up big on the second-to-last drive with a big sack to thwart a drive. Farrington’s offensive line is huge and when they bunched together, there was no room for Manu to go. Give him some space and his speed was too much for one Farrington blocker to handle. Real solid matchup here. I thought both teams played very well on each side of the ball.


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