Not so long ago, eight seasons, to be precise, a young whipper-snapper stepped up into the spotlight.
The two quarterbacks on his school’s varsity team went down with injuries. The playoffs were about to kick off. He was a JV quarterback, and his team was also in the postseason.
The call came. Andrew Manley became a varsity starter as a 10th grader, leading the 3-3 Leilehua Mules to the OIA title, and then the state championship.
There is a surge in quarterback injuries this season in prep football, leading to at least six Top 10 teams to seek help from second-string slingers.
There have been injuries every year, of course. But this season, the injury bug seems to be more specific. Passers have been sidelined by collarbone or shoulder injuries. That’s not new. Former UH and Leilehua quarterback Bryant Moniz lost his junior year (2005) after suffering a collarbone injury during a preseason game. When Moniz returned as a senior, Tokuda redefined the role. Running was a last option rather than the first.
Ever a chameleon when it comes to offensive schemes, coach Nolan Tokuda continues to adapt. He did it with Manley all those years ago.
“I remember watching him in summer pass league,” he said of the sudden change at QB during the ’08 playoff run. “We had was a Saturday practice, then we went to watch an ILH game at the stadium. I wanted to pick his brain that night, so I asked him, ‘What coverage are they in, what do you see?’ Later on, I had him draw me his top five plays like he can do it in his sleep.
“So I called plays based on that.”
Kaipo Kea and uber-versatile Kaipo DeRego, their injured QBs, got healthy in time for the state tourney. Tokuda used Kea in option package situations.
“We wanted to change some things. We ran speed option with Kaipo Kea. He got some big first downs, to the 1. Saint Louis called a time out because they didn’t practice the speed option (defense), then we went back to five wide with Andrew. It was a chess match,” Tokuda said. “We rode the hot hand with Andrew.”
DeRego could also play RB. Tough as nails and a pass catcher, too.
“Kaipo DeRego who is now in the Marine Corps,” Tokuda said. “The two games he started, he was 2-0.”
This week, Leilehua’s starting quarterback, former backup Kona Andres, is going through concussion protocol. If he doesn’t pass, slotback Anthony Ugalino will start at QB in the Mules playoff game. Kaleialoha Piceno, the first stringer in preseason, went down with a hip injury against Kailua and is out for the year.