HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
SB FILE / 2007
St. John Lessary III is one part of a deep Kahuku backfield.
Kahuku and Kamehameha kick off new season
There may not be two teams in the state that draw crowds the way Kahuku and Kamehameha do.
Yet, for all their glorified histories, when the Red Raiders and Warriors clash tomorrow at Aloha Stadium, there will be questions to answer. Many questions.
» The Warriors were 4-4-1 last season under first-year coach David Stant, but the new pass-heavy offense was on fire down the stretch. Can Kamehameha keep that momentum churning with new quarterback Edmund Kamano?
» Kahuku has revamped on both sides of the ball. Coach Reggie Torres ordered up a 3-4 formation to accentuate a wealth of linebackers and defensive backs and a one-back (ace) offense that can create more passing opportunities. But have the Red Raiders learned their new schemes well enough to succeed against an athletic Kamehameha defense?
» Many Kamehameha alums have long wanted a less predictable offense, and Stant gives them plenty of that. Will that translate into a run for the Interscholastic League of Honolulu title?
» Will Kahuku's vocal following be patient as both units learn on the job?
The fleet-footed Kamano acclimated to Kamehameha's new playbook as a backup to Michael Hoke last fall, and the deep receiver corps could register fantasy-like numbers this year. Brandon Dumlao provides plenty of experience out of the backfield. Kamehameha's offensive line, like Kahuku's D-line, is loaded with talent, but is largely inexperienced.
"David's system took a while to work," Torres said. "By the end of the season, it started to jell. When they started to believe in it, and that's when it works a lot better. They're starting to pick up where they left off."
The Red Raiders are stacked at running back, with six who could easily start, Torres said. St. John Lessary III and Washington state transfer Alapeti Magalei, a complementary tandem of finesse and power, are getting more comfortable with the new schemes.
Defensively, the Red Raiders have plenty of athleticism, especially since Jray Galeai has moved from quarterback to safety. Aulola Tonga and Irwin Ah-Hoy fortify a young, but physical unit.
"I'm excited to see if what we've been doing since spring is going to click. We've had great practices and the kids are picking up on it," Torres said.
Stant thinks the new-look Raiders will still look familiar.
"They changed a little on formations, but they're still running the same plays. I think they have great athletes, so no matter what system they run, they will do very well," he said.
If Kamehameha has an edge, it was with last week's camp.
"We bonded with each other, so that was a big positive," Stant said. However, injuries racked up at key positions, he added.
Kahuku, ranked No. 4 in the Star-Bulletin Football Preseason Top 10, may not get all its answers right away against fifth-ranked Kamehameha. But the season-opening game for both storied programs could well mirror the final chapter come state tourney time.
That would be fitting, in some ways. One of Torres' sons, Reggie Jr., played on the Warriors' 2005 state championship team, and some of Kahuku's assistant coaches have children who attend Kamehameha.
Here's a look at more matchups.
Farrington at Waianae
Both Oahu Interscholastic Association contenders have holes to fill, but plenty of talent to work with.
The 10th-ranked Governors are led defensively by middle linebacker Sila Tonga, V.J. Fehoko and Isiah Iutu, but have new faces on the line. Apelu So'oalu is back at running back and Dayton Kealoha is entrenched at quarterback in the West Coast offense.
No. 6 Waianae's Wing-T offense has a bit of the old with running back Danny Kekoanui, and a bit of the new with shifty quarterback Keoni Napierala-Rose.
Defensive tackle Wade Keliikipi is a rock in the trenches, but there are plenty of newcomers at linebacker and defensive back.
Leilehua at Radford
The "Spirit of Freedom Bowl" marks the rivalry between schools identified in part with the Army (No. 2 Leilehua) and Navy (Radford).
The defending state champion Mules have quarterback Andrew Manley and go-to receiver Edieson Dumlao, but the defense lost All-State linebackers Robert Siavii and Art Laurel. The Rams are quietly ascending with a squad that could be their best since 2005.
Mililani at Castle
Quarterback Blake Rapozo was a part-time starter last season and had some good moments in a scrimmage at Kapolei last week. Defensive end Kevin Aipia returns as Castle's top sack man.
The ninth-ranked Trojans have a legit playmaker in Dalaunte "Taz" Stevenson, but will count on defense early in the season with UH recruit Vinnie Manu, a defensive end, and linebacker Sterling Cossey.
Campbell at Roosevelt
Gone is the Wing-T now that new coach Amosa Amosa has installed the run-and-shoot at Campbell. Prolific running back Samson Anguay has moved to slotback.
The Rough Riders, meanwhile, have 16 returning starters, including quarterback Shon Fujii.
Pearl City at Aiea
These two neighboring rivals used to play annually before the advent of Red and White conferences. They last met in 2005, when Lofa Liilii scored four touchdowns in Aiea's 26-6 win.
Waipahu at Keaau
Marauders coach Sean Saturnio's team doesn't travel often, but this trip will provide a formidable foe.
The Cougars knocked off eventual Big Island champ Kealakehe last season and barely missed winning the title.
Word of Life at Nanakuli
The brand-new Firebrands are ready for their varsity debut. Coach Joe Onosai's program won the Interscholastic League of Honolulu intermediate title last season with a Double-Wing offense. Until defenses get familiar with the unique look, WLA has an early advantage.
Damien vs. McKinley
The Monarchs are counting on Anthony "Bones" Tuitele against the Tigers at Roosevelt Stadium.
Tuitele made the move from safety to quarterback last season with stunning effectiveness.
McKinley is not deep, but features running back/linebacker Will Sparks-Togiai and two-way lineman Jonathan Nepo.
Pac-Five vs. Waialua
Running back Darren Kamealoha is a sparkplug for the Wolfpack, who have no returning starters as they go up against the Bulldogs in the Father Bray Classic at Aloha Stadium.
Lineman Noeau Copp and linebacker Kaimi Kanehailua lead the defense.
Waialua coach Lincoln Barit's team will run more this season with senior running back Joseph Kaululaau. Two-way lineman Micah Hatchie is a key cog up front.
Iolani vs. Kamehameha-Maui
Raiders quarterback Kela Marciel, with his scrambling and passing skills, causes headaches for defensive coordinators. The Raiders, the reigning Division II state champions, take on the Warriors in the second Father Bray Classic game at Aloha Stadium.
Evan Garces, who moved from quarterback to wideout, leads the Warriors offense. Tackle Kupono Hong leads a crew of eight returning starters on defense.
Kapolei at Kamehameha-Hawaii
The eighth-ranked Hurricanes have a defense, led by linebacker Chad Lopati, that could be their best ever.
Anuenue at Kohala
Na Koa won last year's matchup handily, but traveling to the Big Island, driving up the coast to the Cowboys' field and winning will be a bigger challenge.
Kaimuki at Kaiser
The Bulldogs and Cougars last met a year ago. Kaimuki won 26-0 in a White Conference game. The 'Dogs are now in the Red Conference, possibly stronger, deeper and certainly a sleeper.
Kalaheo at Maui
The visiting Mustangs are in rebuild mode after losing a plethora of seniors to graduation.
Maui, though, hasn't been the same since King Kekaulike and Kamehameha-Maui opened.