HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Brad Iaulualo and the Mules begin defense of their state title on Saturday at Radford.
Mules marked this year
| READ THE FULL STORY
Expectations are high in Wahiawa, and rightfully so.
After Leilehua's magical run through last year's football postseason -- headed up by an unknown and largely untested JV quarterback -- the defending state champion Mules must rally around each other to get back to the big stage for a chance at a repeat.
Signal-caller Andrew Manley is no longer a mystery to opponents, and coach Nolan Tokuda will call upon the team philosophy of selflessness to carry the Mules through.
Leilehua tied in the overall Star-Bulletin Preseason Top 10 balloting total with No. 3 Saint Louis, but their nine first-place votes bumped them ahead to No. 2.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Mules running back Greg Frazier carried the ball during a practice session yesterday.
FULL STORY »
The "Manchild" did everything he could to restore Leilehua to the top of the state's prep football world for the first time since 1984.
TOP 10 COUNTDOWN
With high school football starting tomorrow, the Star-Bulletin is counting down its preseason Top 10, as determined in a poll of coaches and media members:
3. Saint Louis
Now, coach Nolan Tokuda will ask Andrew Manley for something more.
"Last year, he didn't have to lead -- he just had to go out there and execute the offensive sets," Tokuda said. "Now, we're expecting him to lead a little more, the team, because he does have that experience."
When Manley was called up from the JV as an emergency starter in the Oahu Interscholastic Association playoffs because of injuries to both varsity quarterbacks, Tokuda sat down with the sophomore and together they pared the Mules' playbook down considerably to make life easier for the youth. At the time Manley stepped in, Leilehua was 5-4 and a long shot for the state tournament. Five well-chronicled wins later, he was the toast of Wahiawa.
The shocking 20-16 comeback win over top-ranked and previously unbeaten Saint Louis for the state title will be hard to top. But now, with a spring and summer used as preparation, the complete arsenal of Tokuda's hybrid run-and-shoot system is at Manley's disposal. It also helps that the junior grew from 6-2, 180 pounds last year to a formidable 6-3, 215.
On-field success, however, is a secondary priority to the 2007 Star-Bulletin coach of the year.
"I think everybody wants to place a bull's-eye on us and everybody's expecting us to win another championship, but that was last year's team," Tokuda said. "We just want to go out there and have these kids have the same philosophy that we ended the season with. We love each other and enjoy the moment. As long as they can look in the mirror and say that they played their best, that's good enough for us."
No. 2 Leilehua
Here's a look at Leilehua's recent history and its schedule this season:
|2007 (10-4, state champ)
Previous four years
2004: 10-4, state final
||at Pearl City
Manley should be a force in his return, but he'll have help with five other offensive returnees. All-State first-teamer Edieson Dumlao (5-10, 190), who caught the game-winning touchdown against Saint Louis, returns for his senior season. Senior running back Rico Newman (5-10, 175) was an all-purpose second-team selection and will shoulder the rushing load with Tokuda hesitant to let Manley loose for QB keepers. He also doubles as an excellent punter.
The Mules lost a versatile two-way player in Allan Macam, but former quarterback Kaipo Ke'a (5-9, 165) figures to fill in the role alongside fellow senior receiver/corner Marcus Breakfield (6-0, 170).
"(Ke'a) is an athlete and a winner and he's happy to play wherever we need him," Tokuda said. "Having a guy like that is a benefit to the entire team."
He expects third-year center Bronson Smithe (5-10, 235) to step up at center and Jiniki Timoteo (6-3, 240) to pick up slack at left guard for three departed O-linemen.
The skinny: How smoothly the team shifts its defensive resources around (five returning starters) could play a big part in the Mules' fortunes this year. Leilehua lost all three of its starting linebackers -- including All-State first-teamer Robert Siavii (second in defensive player of the year voting) and second-teamer Art Laurel.
To make up for that, Tokuda has shifted two of last year's D-linemen, Kalua Ellis (5-11, 215) and Nate Hall (6-4, 230) to fill the gap.
"Now they'll be standing up," Tokuda said. They're joined by Alii Tuitoelau (5-10, 180), who's seen duty in nickle packages in the past.
Safeties Hoku Kama (5-11, 170) and Garrison Garma (5-8, 165) should be solid in the secondary.
X factor: Tokuda said it best.
"If the new 30 guys that joined our team can buy into our philosophy, they can be the X factor. Let's just go out there and do our best and lay it on the line every day."