HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
SB FILE / 2007
Kaimuki, with running back Justin Paderes, moved up to the OIA Red Conference and may have what it takes to contend.
Teams not in the early Top 10 can climb the ladder
Feeling a little disrespected?
Outright stiff-armed? All because your team was not among those in the Star-Bulletin Football Preseason Top 10?
Stress no more, fellow footballholics. Of the 10 teams in last year's preseason poll, two didn't make it to the final Top 10. The 2007 preseason No. 1 team, Kahuku, didn't reach the state tournament, while two teams not listed in the preseason poll -- Iolani and Lahainaluna -- finished the year at Nos. 6 and 8.
Here's a look at a few of the rising powers who didn't make this summer's preseason Top 10. If history is any indication, at least two of them should crack the list by late fall. Or sooner.
Iolani (6-6 in 2007)
It's almost a "how dare they" scenario for the Raiders, who never seem to get their just respect. Sure, they were in the Top 10 for much of the '07 campaign, but this is a new season and they're not there.
Key receivers have graduated, but there are enough returnees out wide to give quarterback Kela Marciel the targets he needs. The Raiders, who beat a bigger Lahainaluna team for the Division II state crown last year, are usually among the best-conditioned teams in the islands.
Their no-huddle offense is the bane of opposing defensive coordinators and players alike. Those elements separate Iolani from the rest, and they certainly haven't changed.
Kaimuki (11-2 in 2007)
The Bulldogs won the Oahu Interscholastic Association White and reached the semifinals of the Division II state tourney before losing big to Lahainaluna, 52-20.
They were rewarded with a promotion to the Division I Red Conference -- normally a curse more than a blessing for mid-sized schools undergoing major graduation of key seniors.
In Kaimuki's case, however, a boatload of talented juniors supplement what could be the best pack of 'Dogs in recent history. Second-year coach Darren Johnson has opened up the offense, using a passing game with plenty of variables.
The bread and butter, of course, is still a hard-nosed rushing attack out of a spread formation -- though it's not the 'I' that was Johnson's foundation at Kailua.
Justin Paderes, the shifty, tough running back, is part of a duo in the backfield now. Transfer Keola Kiko-Kahawai is a fluid runner with nice field vision. Both backs gave Waianae fits in a scrimmage recently.
The 'Dogs are steady, if not prolific, at quarterback. They also have some depth at receiver. Desmond Tautofi, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound junior defensive lineman, is a huge load at wideout. Tautofi has good hands and is nimble enough to be a threat on the perimeter, where he routinely drags three to four defenders after making a catch.
Defensively, Kaimuki's experience against the Wing-T -- as operated efficiently by Lahainaluna -- came in handy against Waianae. If the 'Dogs can develop enough depth -- there are 50 players on the roster -- they might just make a serious run at the OIA's Division I title.
Lahainaluna (9-2 in 2007)
The Lunas came close to winning the Division II state crown a year ago, losing to Iolani 28-21 in the title game.
They lost All-State utility star Lake Casco, now at Penn, to graduation. They also lost a formidable defender in Simione Vehikite, whose family moved to Oahu. He now plays for Kapolei.
Still, the Lunas are usually loaded with talent. Cole Lowen returns to the linebacker corps, and Jayson Manning plays defensive end and tight end.
QB Jake Manning returns to orchestrate Lahainaluna's modified Wing-T offense. With a "fly" in motion before the snap, the Lunas have a unique look, especially when the fly takes the handoff and runs wide.
Bryson Williams returns at running back and linebacker, while Tulia Tei and Peter Lino are returning starters on the offensive line. Paula Toa could emerge as a force at safety.
Kealakehe (10-3 in 2007)
The Waveriders have long desired to make a splash on the big stage, but last year's 21-17 loss to Waianae in the state quarterfinals was yet another heartbreaker. Kealakehe lost strong-armed Kawai Kanuha and a host of talent, but speedy Jordan Ursua is back. Ursua, arguably the top athlete in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, will be at slotback and may get touches as a running back.
The defensive line is back in its entirety, anchored by ends Bulla Malakaua and Afa Tualaulelei.
Second-year coach Gary Clark is watching closely as a battle for the starting quarterback job continues. Kealakehe will play arch rival Konawaena in a nonconference game tomorrow before hosting Kahuku on Aug. 29.
Kauai (8-2 in 2007)
The Red Raiders have won six Kauai Interscholastic Federation crowns in a row. A seventh seems likely with a ton of returnees to the Kauai defense. Among them are stud linebacker Teila Huni, along with fellow 'backer Matt Parr, defensive end Chad Koga and safety Brandon Largusa.
Offensively, newcomers are in key spots. Peleku Yasai and Gage Gusman could see time at running back, while junior Trey Shimabukuro brings a rifle arm to quarterback.
Derek Borrerro enters his second year at the helm. Last year's squad downed Roosevelt before losing to Iolani in the D-II state semifinals.