DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Saint Louis coach Delbert Tengan said Micah Mamiya is "a shy person" and "has what it takes to be a quarterback."
Mamiya going for perfection
The senior quarterback guides Saint Louis to the steps of its third state championship
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Saint Louis senior quarterback Micah Mamiya never imagined being undefeated as a quarterback.
He never imagined being a quarterback at all.
Mamiya, 21-0 as a starter, wanted to play slotback or cornerback, but was talked into calling the signals. Now he wouldn't have it any other way.
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JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Micah Mamiya wanted to play slotback or defensive back, but became a QB at Saint Louis, where he is 21-0 as a starter.
OR Saint Louis quarterback Micah Mamiya, humility is just as important as legacy.
The senior, now in the waning moments of his high school football career, has garnered numerous accolades on the field, leading to increased attention off of it. The humble, shy Mamiya has become a leader for the 10-0 Crusaders, who have gone 21-0 with him at the helm.
The duty Mamiya feels to his team, his coach, and the alumni is what makes him such a unique breed of football player.
"The roots here at Saint Louis School go really deep," said head coach Delbert Tengan. "When you look at a lot of our players, their fathers, their uncles, their grandfathers went to school here and played here.
"So there is that sense of carrying on the tradition, and I'm sure Micah feels that."
Especially Micah. He is the grandson of Richard Mamiya, who captained the football, basketball and baseball teams at Saint Louis in the 1940s and went on to become a well-known heart surgeon.
Micah Mamiya leads the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion Crusaders against Waianae in the state Division I semifinals at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Aloha Stadium. Saint Louis is going for its third championship since the formation of the state tournament in 1999.
While he fills the quarterback position well and has helped to continue the pride of Crusaders football, Mamiya, who has been playing football for almost 10 years now, never envisioned himself in the role that he's in today.
"I liked baseball, so I never wanted to play football, but my dad made me try out and after the first year I got addicted," Mamiya said.
"I like playing quarterback, but I do it for the team. I wanted to play slotback or defensive back, but I got forced to play quarterback. At slotback or defensive back, it's more fun because you don't have to think as much as a quarterback does."
Despite being a baseball player and a football cornerback at heart, Mamiya claims -- and the coaches will agree -- that he was chosen to play quarterback because of his mentality.
"He's a shy person, but he has a way of talking, Tengan said. "He has what it takes to be a quarterback. Sometimes he has that little chip on his shoulder that you need."
As an upperclassman, Mamiya feels responsible for not only his actions but also his teammates'.
"The seniors, this is their team just as much as it is my team, or our team at Saint Louis," Tengan said. "They need to take ownership of this team, make sure that all of our players are doing the right things on the field, in the classroom, off campus. And everything that they do -- and that we as a team do -- is reflected on the school, the program and their families.
"Micah feels a sense of responsibility in making sure that the right things happen."
In addition to his role as a senior, Mamiya has an increased sense of duty as a QB.
"Because I'm a senior and because I'm the quarterback, I feel I have more responsibility," Mamiya said. "If we lose, it's the quarterback's fault. If we win, I get all the glory."
Mamiya welcomes the demands football has on him and acknowledges that it has helped him to grow, both as an individual and as an athlete.
After suffering a season-ending injury in the state semifinals last year, Mamiya developed an intensified work ethic and sense of determination, spending longer hours in the weight room and watching film.
"His goal was to get back to a championship game and play this year," Tengan said. "We're one step away from getting there, so hopefully he'll have that opportunity.
"A lot of people say, 'Hey I want to work harder next year and get to that point,' but they don't have that opportunity. Micah has that opportunity to get there."
While playing in the state championship game would be an accomplishment for Mamiya, perhaps the most important thing he has gained from the experience of being a member of the Saint Louis team is his ability to lead. The non-vocal senior leads by example, voicing his concerns only when necessary.
"If I ever see one of my teammates acting dumb in school I tell them, 'Hey, wise up because we need you on the field,' " Mamiya said. "I try to let things go, but sometimes you just have to tell them no and make sure they don't get in trouble."
The combination of talent and leadership has proved successful for Mamiya. He does not bask in the glory, however, choosing instead to credit those around him.
"He doesn't walk around like he's the big man on campus," Tengan said. "That has impressed a lot of the faculty and staff. Here's a kid that could easily go the other way and walk around like he's the man, but he is a guy that's going to defer all the credit and all the accolades that he has to the rest of his teammates and just do his part in making the team successful."
Mamiya's approach to football is similar to that in his everyday actions. A member of Pacifica, Mamiya travels to local schools performing in events like those on May Day. Instead of participating in the dances, he prefers to stand in the background and blow the conch shell so as not to receive too much attention.
Whether or not he likes it, attention seems to follow, and with it another set of lessons to learn and challenges to overcome.
"Playing at Saint Louis, the expectation of the school, of the winning tradition puts another added burden on the quarterback position," Tengan said. "But I think Micah's handled it very well. He's humble and I think he's grown to accept his role."