ILH DIVISION II PREVIEW
Derby to modify Damien’s philosophy
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Even with 563 yards in just three games, Kama Bailey is not a one-man wrecking crew.
No, Damien's rep as a smashmouth football team isn't quite accurate anymore -- not in new coach Brian Derby's mind. Bailey is the willing accomplice in the Monarchs' massive ground assault, averaging 11.2 yards per carry.
Still, Derby wants a balanced offense, and the run-pass ratio has been roughly 60-40. Out are the unbalanced lines and in are multiple sets that require a different technique.
"Kama will make that one guy miss, so he adds a lot to my big offensive line," Derby said.
"We get body on body, Kama scores," he added. "If we don't execute to perfection, he breaks long runs. You give him a little crease and he pops through it."
Damien (1-1-1) will test the new approach against Pac-Five on Saturday when Interscholastic League of Honolulu regular-season play opens.
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For years -- decades -- Brian Derby toiled away in the thickness of summer humidity.
Coaching linemen up is what Derby loves doing, and players from across the state came to his clinics and learned the nuances of a brutish position under his tutelage. Derby's independence away from the shackles of a high school head coaching position kept life relatively simple.
Now, as Damien's new coach, he's juggling more plates than ever. His offseason clinics, always free and intensive, haven't ended. But his desire to be a head coach has been matched by the complexities off the field.
"It's more time consuming, not so much complicated. What's involved with this is a lot of scouting, watching video tape. Taking care of the kids and making sure things are OK in school and outside of school. Making sure the locker rooms are clean and the uniforms are clean," he said. "There are so much other things, where at camp you're on for 3-4 hours on the field and you're done until the next weekend."
As a firefighter, Derby has honed his technique as a life-or-death matter. As a teacher and technician of blocking skills on the gridiron, repetition reigns.
"Every week, we go back to the basics," he said. "I don't care if it's boring. We do it over and over. I would've liked to been in a better position coming into ILH instead of 1-1-1. Making a lot of young mistakes, but these kids are working hard. We could be a lot worse and not even close to our goals, but they're working tremendously hard. It's a matter of us staying on 'em."
That steadfast approach and attention to detail are crucial in the battle for the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's one and only state-tournament berth. Iolani has captured the past three ILH D-II titles under veteran coach Wendell Look.
Even with a posse of new starters, Iolani is tough. The Raiders lost to No. 4 Waianae 22-19 last weekend.
Pac-Five, like Iolani and Damien, has always been tough against outside competition. The Wolfpack, with a hard-nosed defense and Texas Longhorns-inspired uniforms, are also in the running.
"Pac-Five is a lot better than they've been in the past. They've got a tough defense, and the offense has big-play capability. I see a lot of enthusiasm there," Derby said. "Iolani may not be big, but they do things that are tremendous. You gotta bring your 'A' game or those little guys will knock your butts off. The whole ILH is very competitive."
Big-time playmakers don't get bigger, however, than Damien's Kama Bailey, who ran for 295 yards in a win over Radford last weekend.
"We don't think about the yards. Just run the offense and Kama does some special things. We don't think we'll give him the ball 50 times like in the past. Kama does some things that are God-gifted," Derby said.
Bailey has turned in his own version of Kealoha Pilares-like numbers so far. In just three games, the sturdy senior has run for 563 yards at 11.2 yards per attempt, along with three touchdowns.
Numbers don't strap on the gear, though, and Damien and Pac-Five are in for an ILH-opening battle on Saturday.
"The easiest week in the ILH," Derby said, "is your bye week."
Here's a look at the ILH's D-II squads:
The Monarchs were 3-7-1 last year -- 2-5-1 in league play.
The other numbers are strong. On a roster of 68, 28 are returnees, including seven starters on each side of the ball.
Under co-coaches Dean Nakagawa and Rudy Alejo, the program turned around. Since losing to Aiea in the Division II state-title game four years ago, though, the ILH has been an uphill climb.
In 2004, the Monarchs were 2-1 against OIA teams in nonconference play, but won just one league game. In '05, they were 2-1 against the OIA again, but lost to Iolani in a 57-49 thriller and missed a state berth. Last season, Damien was 1-2 in nonconference play and won just one ILH game. Enter Derby.
This year's team continues to emphasize a bone-crunching ground attack. The latest beneficiary is Kama Bailey, formerly an underling to Pilares, the one-time Star-Bulletin offensive player of the year.
The Monarchs have gold up front, where Kamakana Tataipu (6-0, 240), Tyler Brown (6-5, 260), Jordan Aina (5-10, 230) and Kameron Amaral (6-1, 225) have worked through the transition and learned Derby's techniques.
The defensive unit is anchored by defensive end Haku Correa (6-1, 260), Cory Romero (6-0, 185), Micah Aina (5-9, 175) and Amaral. "They're the rock of our defense, our front four," Derby said.
Damien uses multiple looks, including a 4-3. The standouts of the secondary are Christian Vasconcellos (6-2, 190), who has scholarship offers from Hawaii, Utah and Colorado, and Anthony Tuitele (5-11, 175).
With two games against each of their D-II foes, it's important for the Monarchs to have different looks. Quarterback James Skizewski (5-10, 185) is learning on the fly.
"He hasn't been part of a throwing offense, so he's come a long way. We just have to simplify things for him and give him confidence," Derby said.
Pass-protection technique. New stances -- "from heavy fingers to more balance," Derby said -- and more pulling have made life as a Damien O-lineman more challenging. How they adapt is key.
They appear to be younger and smaller, and yet, Look and his staff have the Raiders competitive with Top 10 teams once again. Two weeks ago, they lost to No. 10 Kalaheo by a field goal, then nearly upset Waianae on the Seariders' field. Kela Marciel, the successor to Ryan Dung at quarterback, is known for his speed and toughness. He went one better, completing 17 of his 22 pass attempts for 170 yards against one of the toughest defenses in the state. (Waianae's defense limited Mililani to nine points two weeks ago.)
Seasoned receivers make Iolani's run-and-shoot dangerous. Lionel Fujioka racked up nine catches for 120 yards at Waianae and seven receptions for 115 yards against Kalaheo. Ronnie Furukawa had six catches for 160 yards against Kalaheo.
Even at 1-2 in nonconference play, the Raiders are respected near and far. Even Waianae, which scrimmaged the Raiders a month ago, gave kudos to their smaller opponents for execution and discipline. The three-time defending league D-II champs have the perfect system for their personnel.
The Raiders defense is going to be tested by every running back in the league. Kalaheo amassed 238 rushing yards. Waianae's Wing T rolled up 294 rushing yards. If the Raiders can make enough stops in crunch time, Marciel and the offense could have enough to outscore the rest of the ILH.
Pac-Five went 1-2 against nonconference competition. This year's senior crop has endured a lot of tough on-the-job lessons; many were first-year starters as sophomores. This, Botelho hopes, will be a payoff year.
The 'Pack had a topsy-turvy nonconference slate, with a win over Radford and losses at Moanalua and Mililani. Defense is the strength of this team. Defensive end Aaron Tipoti (6-2, 237) is one of the state's most coveted recruits.
Defensive back Ku Botelho and linebackers Jordan Mineshima and Adam Hom have played well in nonconference, and defensive tackle Alika Vaiese (5-11, 265) is the muscle in the interior.
Botelho's run-first approach works with his personnel. Pac-Five is fortified in the backfield with Philip Farubbi and Jamie Rivera. Farubbi ran for 90 yards on 20 carries against No. 6 Mililani. Rivera rushed for 70 yards (8.8 yards per carry) and caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Jon-Ray Rodrigues.
They run behind a senior-heavy offensive line anchored by Sililo Pale III, a 6-5, 320-pounder. Pale was an All-ILH second-team selection last year.
The Longhorns look is good for Pac-Five, which has enough size and talent to make a run for its first ILH D-II title.
Opposing teams will often run away from Tipoti to neutralize his strength and speed. Without an explosive offense, the Wolfpack defense will need to carry some of the load as a unit.