HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS
Fehoko returns home with Farrington
Govs hope to keep momentum going, but travel to face Kahuku on its imposing home field
The silence at Aloha Stadium was remarkable.
On that disheartening night a month ago, the Farrington Governors had to swallow a 59-0 defeat at the hands of the Saint Louis Crusaders. The Govs didn't lack effort, but with a stagnant offense and a multitude of players sidelined for academic reasons, the future did not look bright.
In that darkness, however, the Governors didn't cower. Instead, they bonded and marched toward the light. Four games into the Oahu Interscholastic Association season, they have taken the Red East by storm with a 3-1 mark.
The Govs' brimming confidence will come in handy when they visit No. 3 Kahuku (3-1, 2-1) tomorrow. The host Red Raiders, with arguably the largest and loudest home-field crowd in the state, expect a sellout for homecoming.
Farrington, meanwhile, just wants to keep its streak hot. One of their stalwart leaders isn't surprised one bit by the Govs' success.
"We've improved a lot. We found a steady quarterback now in Elijah (Filifili), and our defense is starting to lock in at positions," lineman Whitley Fehoko said. "This past preseason, probation guys cost us a lot. But they're back and we're more steady. Our defense is holding up well."
Behind Filifili, running back Kenneth Faumui and a posse of emerging standouts, coach Randall Okimoto's squad has improved drastically since that loss to Saint Louis. Faumui has a single-game high of 148 rushing yards this season, while Filifili has provided much-needed poise.
"He's more relaxed of all the quarterbacks I've worked with. He doesn't panic. He doesn't play the scoreboard. He calms everyone down and we can get the ball moving," said Fehoko, who plays on offense and defense.
The game will have even more meaning for Fehoko and younger brother Sam, a starting defensive end. The Fehoko brothers grew up in Laie before moving to Honolulu and attending Saint Louis School three years ago.
Since then, the brothers transferred to Farrington. This weekend's game will mark the first time their paternal grandparents will see a football game. The boys' father, Vili, played football at Kahuku along with his brothers. Vili's parents, however, never took to football until now.
Whitley and Sam will see a lot of old friends during the game. Friends who will be dressed in red and white.
"I know everybody on that team, some of them real good," said Whitley, who used to get plenty of attention as an 11-year-old. Back then, he and Sam would pull a car across a field at the BYUH campus under the supervision of their father.
Whitley still misses the North Shore.
"Certain things -- the salt wind, the breeze -- it's great. The beach -- Temple beach. They closed it down now, but back then it was open to the public," he recalled.
Fehoko and some teammates were at Kahuku last Saturday, scouting their opponent. He's well aware of Kahuku's talented running backs, who are led by Kamuela Alisa. "The way they play is smashmouth. It hasn't changed since the days when my dad played there," he said.
Farrington will counter with some decent size of its own, but the Govs' strongest attributes aren't obvious to the naked eye.
"When we were struggling, that's when everyone starting bonding together," Fehoko said. "A lot of people had doubts in the community, but we knew what we were capable of."
As a measure of conditioning and heart, the Govs added an extra week of two-a-day practices. "That really tested us to see how much strength we had," Fehoko said.
Fehoko, a 6-foot-1, 295-pound senior, has helped anchor the Govs in the trenches. Whether he's at tackle or guard, he's the big guy pulling for his running backs. Colleges took notice last year, and Fehoko gave a verbal commitment to the University of Utah.
That commitment is soft, as they say. He's fielded calls from other schools despite the Utah commit. Boise State's Dan Hawkins has been in touch with the Fehoko clan this week.
For now, though, nothing would please the Governors more than knocking off their country cousins.
"I know Kamu, Malosi (Te'o), all those guys," Sam Fehoko said. "Honestly, their running game is good, but our defense can stop them. Our line is strong and our DBs can play the run and pass. To me, it's not about size. I try to beat 'em with my speed and strength."
The key for Sam, as well as the Govs, may be a matter of what they listen to -- and don't listen to.
"I think they have a good community, but I don't hear the crowd," he said. "I just focus on my assignment and my responsibilities."