Thursday, August 31, 2000
Darnell Arceneaux, Class of 1996. Jason Gesser, Class of 1998. Timmy Chang, Class of 2000.
From one 'Class' to another,
St. Louis School quarterbacks have
made the grade in countless
Prep Bowls and at the
By Dave Reardon
They've been the Class of Hawaii high school football year-after-year.
They're just the latest models off the assembly line of St. Louis School quarterbacks. All led their teams to Prep Bowl championships. All are Division I college quarterbacks.
Kelika Higa, Class of 2001.
The 6-1, 165-pound senior is the new trigger man for the Crusaders' run-and-shoot offense. St. Louis begins defense of its Interscholastic League of Honolulu and state titles Saturday at 2 p.m. against Damien.
Tomorrow, the league opens with an Aloha Stadium doubleheader. Punahou plays Pac-Five at 5 p.m., followed by Kamehameha and Iolani at 7:45 p.m.
While no one can predict what Higa will do at the college level, it's likely he will pile up impressive numbers quarterbacking the Crusaders, who are ranked as high as No. 8 in national polls.
After a rough preseason start against Mililani two weeks ago, Higa settled down and completed 12 of 15 passes for 233 yards and four touchdowns last week against Samoana.
The job is his, coach Cal Lee said. Higa's earned it, now he must continue to learn it.
"He was Timmy's backup as a sophomore and junior. Now he's going to learn what it's like to be the guy when the score's 0-0," Lee said. "Pressure? No doubt about it. How well we do depends a lot on him. We can run the ball, but we have four receivers and we have to use them."
By no means does Higa go into the adventure alone. He has an offensive line anchored by center Keith Young (6-2, 310). He has all those fast, dependable receivers, including ILH sprint champ Daniel Inferrera (6-1, 190). He has running back Pesefea Fiaseu (5-11, 220), and he has a big, bad defense, led by linebacker Ikaika Curnan (6-0, 230).
But Higa's most important helper won't play a down.
That would be Vince Passas, Class of 1974.
Passas quarterbacked St. Louis in the first Prep Bowl, a 6-0 loss to Waianae at stormy Honolulu Stadium in 1973.
Since then, Passas has developed countless winning quarterbacks at Kaiser and St. Louis.
"A big part of any success those guys achieve comes from what Coach Vinny gave them here," Lee said. "He developed all of them, going back to John Hao, who's on our staff now, Mike Nua, Erin Hall, all of them."
Higa appreciates the offensive coordinator's investment in developing him as a player and person.
"On the field he helps me with reads and quickness, seeing defenders and knowing what to do in situations," Higa said. "Off the field he's a great mentor. He teaches me how to handle myself in public."
Passas said Higa is becoming more comfortable with his starting role with each practice.
"We see daily improvement from Kelika," he said. "The system we run gives quarterbacks an opportunity to be successful, and in turn the quarterback helps make the whole team successful."
There are often rumors about Passas being offered attractive head coaching jobs at other schools. But he remains loyal to St. Louis.
In 1996, coaching became even more important to Passas. That was when his 5-year-old daughter, Natasha, died suddenly from an unknown infection that baffled doctors.
"I think coaching helped me through the rough times, it helped me get through the tragedy," he said. "Helping other people helps you put your own problems on the backburner. God put me here to help young men. It's helped me move on."
And with Passas' guidance, they've moved on. To the next level.
St. Louis, which finished last season 13-1 in regular and postseason and was crowned Hawaii's first state champion in football, is once again an overwhelming favorite to win the ILH. But Kamehameha and Iolani have shown potential in the preseason and are stocked with young talent.
KamehamehaCOACH: Kanani Souza.
LAST YEAR: 9-2, lost to St. Louis in ILH championship.
OUTLOOK: The only team to beat St. Louis last year lost an incredible amount of talent and experience.
"Houston Ala's gone. Need I say more?" lamented Souza. There are many other key departees, with only four returning starters.
Still, the Warriors are loaded with size, speed and athleticism.
Junior FS Tyler Perkins (5-10, 160) may be the fastest player in the state. And junior DL Brandon Ala (6-3, 210) could become a dominant force on defense.
Senior QB Jon Fo (5-10, 170) started the last four games in 1999, including the win against the Crusaders. Other offensive keys will be junior RB Kelena Hookano (5-11, 174) and junior OL Donovan Raiola (6-2, 280). Yes, he's the brother of Nebraska's Dominic.
IolaniCOACH: Wendell Look.
LAST YEAR: 5-5.
OUTLOOK: The Raiders endured a roller-coaster preseason, beating Leilehua, 51-0, and losing to powerful Buchanan (Calif.), 35-0.
Inconsistency could plague Iolani early in the season, since the Raiders have only 11 seniors.
But Iolani is talented and will get better as the season progresses. Keep an eye on QB Kila Ka'aihue (6-2, 190), RB Teo Bennett (5-6, 180), WR Ikaika Goo (5-7, 155), DL Donny Mateaki (6-5, 235), LB Ryan Hanneman (5-11, 210) and DB Bronson Melemai (5-7, 160). All are juniors.
Ka'aihue and Bennett missed the Buchanan game with ankle injuries. Look said Bennett would probably be back for tomorrow's opener against Kamehameha, but Ka'aihue is a bit more iffy. Sophomore Robert Mageo (5-9, 175) is the back-up.
PunahouCOACH: Kale Ane.
LAST YEAR: 5-5.
OUTLOOK: The Buffanblu have dusted off the single-wing offense.
Ane's father and offensive coordinator, Charlie, used it with some success at St. Anthony on Maui in recent years, and ILH defensive coordinators will have to go to the archives to learn how to stop it.
The retro-attack features an army of backs to create a very strong strong side for running, but can also spawn long passes and trick plays. It rolled up 397 yards, but only one touchdown in a 21-13 preseason loss to Kauai kingpin Waimea two weeks ago.
Junior RB/Wing Nainoa Kuna (5-11, 190) caught 11 passes for 200 yards in the game. Junior QB Todd LaFountaine (6-0, 180) is another offensive key, as is sophomore RB Tamatoa Hackney (5-9, 175). Junior Dane Uperesa (6-5, 315) and senior Kale Kealoha (6-3, 225) lead the offensive line.
Defensively, Punahou counts on senior DL Ryan Markham (5-11, 250) and senior OLB Kevin Sahara (5-6, 165).
Pac-FiveCOACH: Don Botelho.
LAST YEAR: 2-8
OUTLOOK: Pac-Five's strength should be its offensive line, but injuries have kept the top five from playing together. That includes senior John Vaielua (6-0, 257), who pulled a groin and missed the first preseason game.
Junior ILB Alika Durington (6-0, 230) used to be a free safety, but has grown into a linebacker. He will lead the defense.
Senior FB Chayson Seneca (5-8, 190) is expected to do well.
Botelho would like to bring along sophomore QB McShane Dator (6-2, 200) slowly, but he has no choice since there are no other experienced quarterbacks.
DamienCOACH: Chris Bisho.
LAST YEAR: 0-10.
OUTLOOK: The Monarchs have some size, and not all of it comes in the form of Bisho, the first-year head coach who is a former Punahou standout lineman. DL Chris Caughorn (5-9, 300) runs a 5.0 40. Junior LB/OL Kea Toledo (6-4, 255) is another intriguing player.
Bisho brings enthusiasm, as well as some different ideas about who should play where. One of his first moves was to switch three-year starting OL Caughorn to the other side. Eleven of the 15 returning starters are at new positions. One or more of junior QBs Joshua DeLaura (5-10, 160), Destin Alameida (5-10, 135) and Eleneke Benevides (5-10, 160) triggers the run-and-shoot.
Tomorrow: The BIIF
Friday, Sept. 1 (at Aloha Stadium)
Pac-Five vs. Punahou, 5 p.m.
Iolani vs. Kamehameha, 7:45 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 2 (at Iolani)
Damien vs. St. Louis, 2 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 8
Punahou vs. Damien at Punahou, 3:15 p.m.
Kamehameha vs. Pac-Five (Aloha Stadium), 5 p.m.
Iolani vs. St. Louis (Aloha Stadium), 7:45 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 15
Kamehameha vs. Damien at Iolani, 3:15 p.m.
Pac-Five vs. Iolani (Aloha Stadium), 5 p.m.
Punahou vs. St. Louis (Aloha Stadium), 7:45 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 23 (at Aloha Stadium)
Damien vs. Iolani, 2 p.m.
Pac-Five vs. St. Louis, 4:45 p.m.
Kamehameha vs. Punahou, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 29
Iolani vs. Punahou at Iolani, 3:15 p.m.
Pac-Five vs. Damien (Aloha Stadium), 5 p.m.
St. Louis vs. Kamehameha (Aloha Stadium), 7:45 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 7 (at Aloha Stadium)
Punahou vs. Pac-Five, 2 p.m.
Damien vs. Kamehameha, 4:45 p.m.
St. Louis vs. Iolani, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 13
Iolani vs. Damien at Iolani, 3:15 p.m.
St. Louis vs. Pac-Five (Aloha Stadium), 5 p.m.
Punahou vs. Kamehameha (Aloha Stadium), 7:45 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 21 (at Aloha Stadium)
Damien vs. Pac-Five, 2 p.m.
Kamehameha vs. Iolani, 4:45 p.m.
St. Louis vs. Punahou, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 27
Punahou vs. Iolani at Punahou, 3:15 p.m.
St. Louis vs. Damien (site: TBA)
Pac-Five vs. Kamehameha (site: TBA)
Friday, Nov. 3
Iolani vs. Pac-Five at Iolani, 3:15 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 4 (at Aloha Stadium)
Damien vs. Punahou, 5 p.m.
Kamehameha vs. St. Louis, 7:45 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 8 (at Aloha Stadium)
ILH Playoff (if necessary)