Farrington, Leilehua are familiar playoff foes
The Govs and Mules meet tomorrow -- their third straight OIA postseason game
OIA Red playoffs
Winners advance to quarterfinals
» Leilehua vs. Farrington at Aiea, 7 p.m.
» McKinley vs. Aiea at Mililani, 7 p.m.
Don't let the weather scare you. It doesn't scare Mules or Governors.
When Leilehua and Farrington clash tomorrow night in the opening round of the Oahu Interscholastic Association playoffs, there will be some commonalities.
The matchup will be the third in three years of post-season play for the two hard-nosed teams. Farrington, with Matt Bell, ousted Leilehua two years ago.
Last season, the Govs led 6-0 on the mud bog of Leilehua's field in the final minutes. The Mules drove and took a 7-6 lead, propelling themselves into Leilehua football lore. The Mules went on to finish second in the state championships, while Farrington was left to wonder, what if?
Weather is a factor, one that can negate Leilehua's hybrid, air-oriented offense, as well as Farrington's West Coast scheme.
Because Farrington has no true home field for games, the Govs' game with Leilehua will be played at Aiea, where the field is a bit chewed up by the home team.
Farrington (3-5 overall, 3-3 Red East) features versatile Kenneth Faumui, a running back whose year-round dedication has been instrumental to his team's success.
"They remind me of Farrington a couple of years ago when they had Matt Bell," Leilehua coach Nolan Tokuda said. "Faumui is an all-around player. He'll catch screens, punt return, kick return. He's definitely a game-breaker. We'll try and limit his touches."
Farrington coach Randall Okimoto didn't realize the level of Faumui's offensive production until he read the statistics.
"We have a lot of guys in our game plan. It's a matter of stepping up. Some guys have, some guys haven't," said Okimoto, a former all-state running back at Farrington.
"Kenneth's been our workhorse, and he was playing defense, but we had to give him a break. He's been working hard since January. He's our guy," Okimoto said.
Farrington's offense is possibly the slowest-starting in the state. The Govs have turned the ball over on their first possession in every game.
"It's more mental. I think they're playing not to fail instead of just playing. That's something we as coaches try to work on," Okimoto said.
Leilehua's defense ranked first in the Red West, a pleasant surprise for a program that received accolades last year for its potent offense.
"Leilehua's defense is sound. That team is opportunistic," Okimoto said, recalling last year's loss at Leilehua. "That linebacker (Guyes Galdeira) made a lot of plays and caused a lot of problems."
The onslaught of injuries this year has kept Leilehua (4-4 overall, 3-3 Red West) shuffling lineups.
Bryant Moniz, a second-team All-State pick at quarterback, has been out several weeks with a fractured collarbone. But defenders Mene Coffin, Chris Rowland and Galdeira have returned recently to shore up the talented, but inexperienced, defensive unit.
"Our defense has kept us in games all season long," Tokuda said. "Offensively, we don't have to win it. We just don't want to lose it."
One of Tokuda's valuable assets is Guy Cantrell, who stepped in at quarterback and averaged 6.9 yards per carry, finishing fourth in the West in rushing.
"Scheme-wise, they're pretty much doing the same thing," Okimoto said of Leilehua's hybrid offense. "Moniz was the more experienced player. If they run with Cantrell, our defense will gladly take on that challenge, but their offense is hard to get to the quarterback. It's three steps back and the ball is out. Your D-line can get tired rushing."
Mule wideout Christian Mendez, a 6-foot-4 senior, leads the West in receptions despite the loss of Moniz.
"Farrington is in the same boat as us. Low in numbers, beat up a little," Tokuda noted.
"Their defense is a gambling defense. It's always scary. If we have any type of shock, they'll jump right on us with seven blitzing and locking up with receivers. Putting one or two DBs on an island is tough, but they'll put four on an island."
Few defensive coordinators are willing to do that, Tokuda added, but they all run defenses for the some of the top teams in the state: Kahuku, Kamehameha, Punahou and Iolani.
"That's tough, and that's exactly what we want. But we have to be in sync," he said.
Defensively, the Mules will miss tackle Clayton Laurel (6-3, 290) and defensive back Joe Iosefa. In last weekend's 3-0 win over then ninth-ranked Waianae, Laurel suffered a leg injury, and Iosefa, who was also their third-string quarterback, suffered a broken arm.
The Mules and their M*A*S*H unit will move on. "We've been through all the tough times and rough roads," Tokuda said. "Hopefully, this will be paved."
The Farrington-Leilehua winner plays at Mililani next week.