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Thursday, October 7, 2004



[ HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ]


art
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Leilehua football coach Nolan Tokuda went over plays with the offensive line during practice at the school yesterday.


Old meets new again
on football field

Mililani-Leilehua is one of
Hawaii’s biggest rivalries


One school's history is rooted in a fading industry: pineapple.

The other school is in a suburb bestowed with the title of "All-American Community" during the 1980s.

Schedule

Tomorrow

ILH
Damien at Punahou, 3:15 p.m.
Pac-Five vs. Saint Louis, at Aloha Stadium, 4:45 p.m.
Kamehameha vs. Iolani, at Aloha Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
OIA Red East
Kaimuki vs. McKinley, at Roosevelt, 7:30 p.m.
Roosevelt at Kahuku, 7:30 p.m.
OIA Red West
Kapolei at Waianae, 7:30 p.m.
Leilehua at Mililani, 7:30 p.m.
OIA White
Radford vs. Kalaheo, at Kailua, 7:30 p.m.
Waialua at Kaiser, 7:30 p.m.
Kalani at Waipahu, 7:30 p.m.
BIIF
Hilo at Waiakea, 7:15 p.m.
Keaau at Kau, 7 p.m.
KIF
Kauai vs. Waimea, at Vidinha Stadium, 7:35 p.m.
MIL
Maui vs. Pac 3 at War Memorial Stadium, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday

OIA Red East
Kailua vs. Farrington, at Roosevelt, 6:30 p.m.
OIA Red West
Aiea at Nanakuli, 6:30 p.m.
OIA White
Moanalua at Campbell, 6:30 p.m.
BIIF
Kamehameha-Hawaii at HPA, 2 p.m.
Honokaa at Kealakehe, 7:15 p.m.
Konawaena at Kohala, 7:15 p.m.
MIL
Baldwin vs. Lahainaluna at War Memorial Stadium, 7:30 p.m.

The older school is surrounded by quaint, small, old churches on a two-lane road.

The 'burb school is bordered by malls, a 24-hour superstore and a six-lane parkway route.

Leilehua and Mililani meet tomorrow to settle leadership in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West. Both teams are 4-0 in league play (6-0 overall). Mililani, to no surprise, is ranked No. 3 in the Star-Bulletin top 10.

The Mules of Leilehua, however, have rolled to a No. 6 ranking thanks to a mix of returning seniors, productive underclassmen and coach Nolan Tokuda. Toss in the plain fact that Leilehua-Mililani is one of the state's top rivalries, and it's likely that Mililani's home stadium will be filled to the gills.

There is a generation of fans who weren't around when Leilehua was a football powerhouse in the 1970s and '80s. In fact, if not for the recent christening of Leilehua's home field as Hugh Yoshida Stadium, there's a good chance most of today's Mules would scarcely know about their storied past.

Radford, Waianae and Leilehua were the dominant teams of the West back in the day. In fact, in 1984, Leilehua was the last public school to defeat an ILH team in the Prep Bowl, which expired in 1998. Since then, Kahuku has won three of the last five state title games, but that hasn't eased the disappointment for old-time Mule fans.

With a junior varsity program that went 17-4 over the last two seasons, including two wins over archrival Mililani, Leilehua fans have reason to be cautiously optimistic -- emphasis on cautiously.

Time has changed much. Tokuda -- part disciplinarian, part mad scientist -- calls his offense "Fastbreak Football," a hybrid of four offenses developed by a staff that includes four former quarterbacks, including Tokuda.

The offense is a fusion of Florida State plays and terminology, Hawaii's run-and-shoot, San Francisco's West Coast and the old Leilehua Slot-I.

"Our quarterback dictates to the wide receivers which route to run, except when it's a 'choice read'," Tokuda said.

It's an offense that suits Tokuda. Last year, when the scout team needed an option quarterback, he ran the plays -- no contact, of course. In preseason, when uniforms get distributed too slowly, Tokuda barks. Uniform distribution steps up. Players trot off the field instead of running, Tokuda sends a not-so-friendly reminder.

And yet, the Mules run drills in the opening minutes of practice sans coaches. Stations, movements, all fluid, all disciplined.


art
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Leilehua's Sione Faleofa went through drills during yesterday's practice at the school's field. The Mules run some drills before the coaches arrive at practice.


For years, it was Mililani that sought victory -- and respect -- from its archrival. Mililani coach James Millwood knows the hunger well. He was a ballboy for the old-time Mules when his oldest brother, Larry, was a running back. His second-oldest brother, David, was a linebacker with the first graduating class at Mililani.

Millwood followed in David's footsteps and became a defensive tackle for the Trojans. Leilehua dominated the series, winning all five matchups until 1980. "Richard Thiede kicked a field goal and we won, 15-14," said Millwood, who also played on the first Mililani Pop Warner team to beat the Wahiawa Lancers.

"It's big. It's a Cowboys-Redskins rivalry, and because of the (win-loss) records, it's becoming bigger. As long as I've coached, I've tried to make it a big deal," said Millwood, whose in-laws are all Leilehua alumni.

Perhaps it's a sign of the times, or just youthful indifference. Mililani's Chustin Senas, who caught nine passes for 188 yards in last week's 43-23 win over Kapolei, is preparing no differently.

"It's just another game, and we just play the game," the junior wide receiver said. Senas knows a few tidbits about Mililani, though, having seen the Trojans play four times already. Mililani cornerback Chris Dickerson will have ample opportunity to cover Senas.

"He knows my cousins," Senas said. "May the best man win."

Containing Senas, Anthony Palomares and the rest of Leilehua's hybrid passing game will be quite a task for Mililani. The Trojans will likely not have safety Justin Morris available due to a separated shoulder.

"Leilehua reminds me of Kaimuki when they had (wide receivers) Justin Faimealelei and Kila Kamakawiwo'ole," Millwood said.

"They like to mix it up," Senas said of Mililani's coverages. If the Trojans play deep, Leilehua will adjust. Senas and Palomares are excellent at fades and deep routes, but the Mules can also go to a short passing game.

Mililani, laden with experienced seniors like quarterback Maka Kahoano and offensive lineman Sene Ma'afala, is clearly the favorite. The Mules, however, won't relent.

"We have a lot of heart. It doesn't matter how old we are, or how big," Senas said.

Moniz, only a sophomore, knows only of victories over Mililani. "We're young, but we come to play," he said.

The last time Mililani saw an offense with run-and-shoot elements, it defeated Punahou 27-7. "I know our coaches will prepare real hard, prepare us and make adjustments," Moniz said

Tokuda said there's a difference between his offense and Punahou's. "They like to run and have a lot of deep passing routes. We take what the defense gives us. The kids trust the system," he said, noting a 42-8 win over Pac-Five when three of Leilehua's starting receivers were out with injuries.

Mililani, dependent on its powerful running game, has perhaps the best play-action execution in the state. Tokuda knows his team may have to move the chains by ground more often than usual to counter Mililani's ball-control offense.

The Mule offense has 'borrowed' two big defensive linemen to help anchor the O-line, which consists of Joseph Jenks (LT), Frank Viena (LG), Cirilo Ponce (C), David Pelupelu (RG) and Brendon Fujioka (RT). The line averages 5-foot-9, 205 pounds. Pelupelu was a defensive lineman last year. Fujioka switched from linebacker.

Josh Scruggs, an outside linebacker and long snapper, was originally a receiver. Middle linebacker Guyes Galdeira switched from guard. "He's the leader of our defense now," Tokuda said.

The Trojans will likely pay close attention to Senas and Palomares. "Our slot receivers and (running back) Justin Lawelawe will have to come up big," Tokuda said. "If they don't cover our four receivers, we'll keep throwing."

After seven years in the program, Tokuda knows it's more than a regular rivalry. "In Wahiawa, they say to me, 'Good luck.' Everywhere else, they say, 'Mililani's going to beat you.' "

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