Arizona goes after more local talent
The University of Arizona, on the heels of its scholarship commitment from Pac-Five quarterback Bryson Beirne, is coming after another local prospect.
The Wildcats have made an offer to Farrington defensive end Sam Fehoko, who had a strong workout at the Just Win Big Man Camp at Moanalua. It is the second offer for the speedy Farrington senior. Oklahoma has also verified that an offer was made to the Governor.
"The offers are coming earlier, especially for those who have qualified early," Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance director Doris Sullivan. "Sam and a lot of these kids are hard workers. They work as hard in the classroom as they do on the football field, and the (college) coaches appreciate it. This is probably the best year we've had where we have kids who have qualified early."
When Arizona saw Fehoko at the Just Win camp, that made all the difference, especially their local recruiter, Mike Tuiasosopo.
Among other seniors who have Division I offers in hand are: Savaii Eselu of Moanalua, Kaniela Tuipulotu of Kahuku, Matthew Masifilo of Campbell and Sione Tau of Damien. Eselu and Masifilo each carry a 3.8 grade-point average or better, and also have qualifying SAT scores.
New Mexico State, like Arizona, is pushing hard in the islands. The Aggies have made offers to Kalani Aldrich of Kamehameha-Hawaii and Joshua Manapuna of Kamehameha, as well as Tau, Fehoko and Tuipulotu.
Merit from Mufi: Mayor Mufi Hannemann honored a group of high-achieving student-athletes with certificates of merit.
The Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance All-Hawaii Academic Team is comprised of football players who carry a minimum 3.6 grade-point average with no grade below a B since ninth grade. The honorees are: Solomona Aigamaua of Saint Louis, James Akoi of Roosevelt, Bruce Andrews of Kalaheo, Kyle Blair of Radford, Kawika Borden of Pearl City, Lake Casco of Lahainaluna, Eselu of Moanalua, Fehoko of Farrington, Matthew Kaaihue and Damien Pescaia of Kamehameha, Brett Kan of Punahou, Masifilo of Campbell, Kenneth of Damien, Lawrence Soto of Kalaheo and Ikaika Weis of Ke Kula 'o Samuel M. Kamakau (Castle).
Good start: The Hawaii Select girls basketball team is off to a solid start in the Vision Sports National Youth Basketball Championships at Las Vegas.
Jamie Smith (Iolani) scored 21 points to lead Hawaii Select over Silicon Valley (Calif.) 52-40 in yesterday's first day of pool play.
"We try to do the same thing every year," coach Chico Furtado said. "We try to pressure the floor as much as possible, get up and down and wear teams down. We're gonna be outsized by every team we play. We got bumped around a little bit, but our kids got through."
Twenty teams are in the 17-and-under division. Members of the Select team come from a variety of schools. The players are: Smith, Nicole Fu (Maryknoll), Chelsie Sato (McKinley), Kylie Sato (McKinley), Shanadee Canon (Kalaheo), Analee Viena Lota (Kamehameha), Alexis Furtado (Kamehameha), Dianna Zane (Roosevelt), Britni Ronolo (Moanalua), Jamie Ronolo (Moanalua), Ashley Medcalf (Christian Academy) and Rhianna Farm.
Farm will transfer from Kamehameha to Kalani this year, Furtado noted. Hawaii Select will meet Victorville (Calif.) today.
Itch won't be scratched: When new Damien athletic director Pohai Lee referred to the cliché about former coaches who get the "itch" to return, he could easily have been talking about himself.
Lee's knowledge and tutelage formed an offensive juggernaut in football at Baldwin in recent years. Former head coach Chad Kauhaahaa was always quick to credit Lee, then his offensive coordinator, for navigating the Bears' run-and-shoot attack. The offense spurred a resurgence for Baldwin, which won four of the last six titles in the Maui Interscholastic League, a group dominated by the run.
Since leaving his teaching duties at Baldwin to head the athletic department at Damien, Lee has a new life. His first day at Damien was on July 1.
"I'm kind of getting the feel for everything. It's very overwhelming. You come from the teacher-coach side to the administrative side and it's a whole new world," he conceded.
"The people here are very supportive, and the kids have a lot of energy," said Lee, who has coaching in his DNA. Cal and Ron Lee are relatives, but Pohai won't be anywhere near a sideline now.
"I don't expect to stick my nose in their business," he said of Damien's coaching staff, led by co-head coaches Rudy Alejo and Dean Nakagawa.
Without being involved, Lee still smiles.
"From what I've seen, they've got three (quarterbacks) with live arms," he said.
Night and day: The difference in high school baseball between the 1970s and today still blows away Terry Derby, who was hired recently to guide the program at Damien.
"The overall way things are done is tremendously different. All these schools never had batting cages, pitching machines, weightlifting, conditioning, even taking pride in your fields," said Derby, 45, who played at Pearl City before embarking on careers with Hawaii and the Milwaukee Brewers.
"When we played, it was nothing like this. We had a regular season and a community league. Now it's fall, summer, all year round," he said.
"There's so many things for the kids now, and the kids are bigger and more advanced than when we played. It's more of a science."
Damien has long been a team that struggled in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, but Derby has a long-term vision.
"I would love to get some (batting) cages built. That would come with time. There are some things I'd like to do. I can use what we have now, but I think in time, improvements are coming," he said.
Obstacles and disciplinary action had Derby out of high school baseball over the past year, but he won't begrudge the ILH's decision -- made last August -- to suspend him for a year.
"What I've learned most of all is, not all the time will things work your way. If you face adversity, you learn from it and move on," he said.
"After all these years of coaching, I got to see the game from another perspective. I learned a lot from watching from the sides."
Two of his sons attend Damien, a school that has his admiration.
"I've been really impressed with the kids, the way they carry themselves. They're really respectful, and that stems from the administration, and that's why I really enjoy sending my kids to that school."
Road to Hana: A promotion that requires long hours of driving won't stop Garrett Tihada.
The longtime Lahainaluna offensive coordinator was recently promoted by the Maui Police Department to a position in Hana -- on the opposite side of the island. Still, the architect of the Lunas' prolific Wing T offense plans to be at practice at least twice a week.
"He's dedicated to the program. He just wants to be there for the kids," athletic director Joe Balangitao said. "I don't think very much will stop him."
Two years ago, with a senior-heavy class, Lahainaluna stunned Mililani and reached the semifinals of the Division I state championships.