HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Damien running back Kealoha Pilares is considering a scholarship offer from Air Force Academy.
Bigger programs woo Fehoko at all-star game
Whitley Fehoko was in the right place at the right time.
The hospitality room of his hotel in Lafayette, La., was exactly where he needed to be just a few days before the All-American Bowl.
That's when lightning struck. Twice.
After a couple of days of observing the 6-foot-1, 290-pound lineman at practice, LSU and Nebraska offered scholarships to Fehoko.
"He's just shocked and happy," said his mother, Linda Fehoko.
Whitley Fehoko's decision to give Utah a commitment last summer included his own promise to the Utes that he would still accept interest from other schools. As of last month, Utah grew fidgety and wanted the Star-Bulletin first-team lineman to make good and solidify his commitment.
Instead, Fehoko continued to mull trip offers from San Diego State, Boise State, Washington and UNLV. Then came the opportunity to play in the All-American Bowl.
Fehoko was at Saint Louis with younger brother Sam before transferring to Farrington a few years ago when the family faced some financial issues.
With the Govs, he continued to mature. He became one of the team's top scholar-athletes, following the path of last year's top Farrington recruit, Shawn Sisifo Lauvao.
The irony is that Farrington is one of many schools that struggles with eligibility issues. More than 20 Governors don't make the grade when the fourth quarter ends, which means they miss playing time in preseason.
"That really hurts, especially in Hawaii. There's so much talent, but some guys don't take care of business," Fehoko said. "They could use their talent, put it to good use and get a scholarship. Farrington is a great program, but some people don't take advantage.
"The coaches try their best -- they do. But the guys gotta want it," he said. "It's all worth it."
Here's a look at some of the state's top college prospects:
Star-Bulletin first-team selection Joseph Faifili has left an indelible mark at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl festivities in San Antonio (a separate event than the All-American Bowl in Lafayette, La.) in the past week. The 6-3, 280-pound Kahuku standout gave Utah a verbal commitment yesterday, breaking the hearts of BYU and Arizona.
Faifili helped Kahuku march to its fourth state crown in six years, then returned to Utah, where his family lives. He is one of several D-tackles who are drawing serious interest.
Damien's Michael Sipili committed to Oregon State on Dec. 16 after mulling offers from Boise State, San Diego State and New Mexico State.
His teammate, Lolomana Mikaele, is pondering offers from New Mexico State, Utah State and San Diego State. He also has a trip to Arizona planned.
Hawaii has shown interest, Damien co-coach Dean Nakagawa said.
Peni Fiuangaihetau of Lahainaluna committed to Division I-AA Weber State on Dec. 2. The 6-1, 250-pound standout was recruited by former Baldwin coach Chad Kauhaahaa.
Ben Kahalehoe of Kapolei and Isaac Tuilaepa of Aiea are on the bubble. Utah State likes Kahalehoe.
"He's not a qualifier, but Utah State loves his motor," Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said.
Tuilaepa, at 6-5, 290 pounds, is a definite sleeper. After attending high school in Colorado for three years, he moved to the islands to stay with older brother Taylor. His academics have improved significantly since the move, Aiea coach Wendell Say noted.
"We've gotten him the classes he needs to qualify," said Say, a counselor at Aiea. "He has better support here. He wants to go to a school where he can be with his brother, but realistically, I think he's better off on his own."
Tuilaepa's twin brother, Max, is an all-league player in Seattle.
Say compares Tuilaepa to a UH recruit of last season, Rocky Savaiigaea.
"I know they could use him. He has a good nose for the ball, strong and quick. He's pretty much like Rocky, but a little bigger. Rocky might be a little stronger," Say said.
Other Aiea players drawing interest include Nikova Sueoka (6-1, 270) and Chris Anakalea (6-1, 290). Northern State, a D-II school in South Dakota, is taking a close look, according to Say.
Radford's Russell Wantowski committed to New Mexico State last week, adding to the growing list of Hawaii players now with the Aggies.
Wantowski is the second Hawaii D-end to commit to NMSU, joining Elliott Purcell of Saint Louis.
In all, four defensive ends have made commitments. Dylan Rush (another participant in the All-American Bowl in Louisiana), who played at Konawaena and is now at Ka'u, committed to UCLA last summer and enjoyed a recent visit to the school. Kapono Rawlins-Crivello, one of Molokai's gifts to Kamehameha, committed to Boise State last summer.
The position is especially deep this year, with athletes like Russel Fisher (Pac-Five), Micah Wily (Kahuku), Justin Hunt (Aiea) and Vasa Kuresa (Radford).
Kevin Unga (6-1, 222) of Kahuku has an offer from his home state, Utah.
The Utes are also interested in Kamehameha's Mana Lolotai.
Unga's twin brother, Devin (6-1, 201), was a Star-Bulletin first-team tight end, but will likely switch to linebacker in college. Utah has also offered him a scholarship.
Nevada is interested in Saint Louis' Jared Silva.
Moanalua standout Quinton Tang committed to Hawaii last month. He drew interest from Boise State, Washington and a host of Pac-10 schools, but is not yet a qualifier.
Tang's teammate, Stanford Leti, also committed to UH at the same time.
After playing quarterback for the Menehunes, Leti will likely play safety for the Warriors. He saw action as a safety and running back while at Moanalua. The 6-foot, 190-pound athlete prefers safety, where he can hit people, but was also one of the most elusive, physical runners in the state as Moanalua reached the state tournament for the first time.
The Kapolei basketball team's loss could turn into a nice gain for the USAFA. Brad Padayao made an official visit to the Air Force Academy this weekend, bringing his 3.8 grade-point average and prolific gridiron stats to the Colorado Springs, Colo., institution.
The Falcons run a flexbone option that has similarities to Kapolei's hybrid spread offense. The early success of Kaipo Kaheaku-Enhada at Navy, a highly effective option squad, has opened doors for Padayao.
Mostly, though, the fleet-footed 5-10, 185-pound senior made a mark for himself and his team by mastering coach Darren Hernandez's blend of the spread option and the run-and-shoot offenses.
Air Force has the edge, but Padayao will visit Navy next weekend. Good news for the Midshipmen, and possibly bad news for the Kapolei hoopsters.
Northern State, the school looking at Aiea's top defensive linemen, is also interested in Kali Kuia.
"They're high on Kali. They think he could play right away," Say said. "They saw film and they really like Kali's game. They run the same type of offense."
Dixie moves from the junior college ranks to Division II next year. The Utah school is also interested in Kuia, a mobile passer.
Star-Bulletin Offensive Player of the Year Kealoha Pilares remains highly interested in a scholarship offer from Air Force, as well. The 5-9, 175-pound Damien standout has a goal of becoming a pilot, which puts Air Force ahead of Hawaii, Boise State and San Diego State.
Kapolei's Radford Raquedan has fielded interest from the Falcons, as well.
Utah State is interested in Radford's Alex Daniels. The Aggies are looking at the shifty, explosive runner as a slotback or cornerback.
Jon Santiago was a prolific, playmaking slotback at Kapolei. Air Force is interested in his talent both on the field and off (4.0 GPA).
Other high-end prospects are Aaron Nichols (6-0, 168) of Kamehameha and Cody Silsley (6-0, 176) of Konawaena. Boise State has kept tabs on Silsley, who caught 60 passes for 1,051 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.
Hawaii is interested in Damien center Eddie Williams (6-0, 280), Monarchs co-coach Nakagawa said. Arizona likes the affable, vocal leader as a defensive tackle.
"He graded out at 90 percent-plus every game," Nakagawa said. "That's good for our younger players to see. They know what good is."
Radford's Ramsey Feagai is weighing offers from Hawaii, New Mexico State and UNLV.
With an 1,100 on the old SAT and a 3.5 GPA, he is an easy qualifier. The 6-2, 330-pound Feagai played center at Radford and has the high praise of June Jones. The Hawaii coach personally offered a scholarship to Feagai during the first day of practice for the HUB Goodwill Senior Bowl. Feagai intends to major in graphic arts, however, which is not offered at UH. That's a major reason New Mexico State, which does offer the major, is in the running.
New Mexico State's progressive stance in the islands extends to the O-linemen. The Aggies have a scholarship offer to Radford's Ian Scheuring (6-5, 300), who will visit the campus next weekend.
The biggest prospect is also the most quiet. At last count, Mililani's Micah Kia has offers from Boise State, Cal, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico State, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, San Diego State, Utah and Tennessee.
The list of commits includes: Ryan Pohl (Kamehameha) to Boise State, Kawika Shook (Kamehameha) to New Mexico State, Walter Kahaialii (Kamehameha-Maui) to BYU.
A sleeper could be Damien's Bronson Tiwanak (6-2, 280).
"He's one of those kids, if he gets into the right situation, somebody's gonna be very happy with him," Nakagawa said. "His best days are ahead of him. He goes to Brian Derby's camp and his footwork has improved tremendously."
Tiwanak held his own at the HUB Goodwill Senior Bowl.
"Afterward, I had a short talk with him," Nakagawa added. "Now he believes he belongs."
Radford tight end Michael Goodman (6-5, 270) has a standing offer from New Mexico State. The Aggies are well aware that Goodman, who is currently a standout center for the Rams basketball team, is a baseball prospect. The left-hander throws 93 mph.