Govs open at No. 10 in prep poll
Farrington's OIA title drive starts with defense
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Preseason polls are always a lot of fun to discuss around the water cooler, and the Star-Bulletin's Top 10 football prep poll is no exception.
TOP 10 COUNTDOWN
With high school football starting on Aug. 17, the Star-Bulletin is counting down its preseason Top 10, as determined in a poll of coaches and media members:
3. Next Tuesday
2. Aug. 15
1. Aug. 16
That's why we decided to unveil our first poll of the season one team at a time each day before culminating next week with the top program in the state the night before the much-anticipated matchup between defending state champion Kahuku and chief rival Saint Louis.
Our panel of media members and high school coaches have cast their ballots, but none has any idea who is the state's top team. We do know that Farrington was voted No. 10. The Governors put together a good run last year in the OIA, before being knocked out by Mililani in the first round of the playoffs.
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Editor's note: This is the first in a series counting down the Star-Bulletin Football Top 10 high school preseason poll. At No. 10, the Farrington Governors.
FARRINGTON went a long way last season, bringing fans glorious thrills en route to a second-place finish in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red East.
The Governors, with a loss of key offensive starters and a returning multitude of defensive starters, were voted No. 10 in the season debut of the high school poll.
Memories of last season's OIA run haven't faded completely. The Govs did it even with a painful midseason injury to quarterback Elijah Filifili.
NO. 1O FARRINGTON GOVERNORS
Here's a look at Farrington's results from the 2006 football season and its schedule this season:
Waianae -- W 37-0
Moanalua -- W 61-14
Kamehameha -- L 7-6
Kailua -- W 35-0
Kalaheo -- W 35-17
Kahuku -- L 38-0
McKinley -- W 35-21
Castle -- W 32-22
Mililani -- L 33-6
Aug. 25 -- Damien
Aug. 31 -- at Kailua
Sept. 14 -- at Moanalua
Sept. 22 -- Kalaheo
Sept. 28 -- at Kahuku
Oct. 6 -- McKinley
Oct. 12 -- Farrington
A dream 5-1 campaign in regular-season play, however, turned into an abrupt, nightmarish ending. Despite holding a host seeding in the OIA playoffs, the Govs were redirected to the home field of the West's third-place team, Mililani. Though Farrington fans cried foul, the OIA relented to TV demands, citing league policy of no guarantee to any first- or second-place team of host status.
Filifili, in only his second game back from the hand injury, wasn't quite the same. Mililani ended the Governors' season with a 33-6 loss. The bitter defeat hasn't deflated the Governors' spirit, not by a long shot.
"Our attitude is that season's over. Sometimes it lingers in our minds, but it's a new year and we gotta move on. I hope we can learn from it," said Governors head coach Randal Okimoto, a former Farrington and UH running back.
Learning won't be a major curve to handle since a large number of backups return this fall.
"These kids stepping up now, they have experience. It seems like they're hungry," the coach said.
Executing may be a different challenge. Farrington ranked No. 1 in Red East offense with 338 yards per game, but lost Hercules Sula (110 rushing yards per game) and the division's top receiver, Elijah Lesu, to graduation.
Replacing Filifili at quarterback is former junior varsity starter Sio Iu.
"He'll fill in just fine. He put in two years on the JV, and played some defense last year," Okimoto said.
In addition, the entire defensive line graduated.
"We're gonna miss that whole group of seniors because of the level of leadership you provided, not to mention the whole defensive line," Okimoto said. "It's still early. We have some guys stepping up, taking over the role now that they're seniors. It's been going OK."
Defense is where the Govs have a chance to strike championship gold. The entire linebacker and secondary crews return, and Okimoto sees promise up front.
"I was worried about our defensive line, but we have some kids coming in who have shown up. I'm excited to see what they can do. We have a couple of sophomores who might step in," he said.
Defensive ends Vili "VJ" Fehoko Jr. and Sila Tonga are turning work ethic into early results.
"Vili's a hard worker, but he's young, so we'll see what he can do," Okimoto said. "Sila's another one who has been working hard in the offseason. He's gotten better from spring practice until now."
Fehoko, a sophomore, follows in the footsteps of all-state brothers Whitley and Sam Fehoko. Tonga is only a junior.
"The recognition from coaches and media in the voting panel is humbling," Okimoto said. "Hopefully, it's proven. Everything they get is earned."