Will Leilehua go for 2?


POSTED: Thursday, November 20, 2008

Between quarterbacks Kalehua Moniz and Jordan Helle, the Baldwin Bears have been different through the years, and yet very much the same.

A 36-0-1 record in the Maui Interscholastic League since 2004 says a lot. So does the program's success through a progression of coaches from Chad Kauhaahaa to Jimmy Morimoto to second-year chief A.J. Roloos.

For Baldwin, which reached the semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank Division I state tournament the past two seasons, an old postseason nemesis is on the horizon.

Turning to JV call-up Andrew Manley, Leilehua ousted Baldwin in a wild 41-34 win last year at Aloha Stadium and went on to capture its first D-I football state title.

“;My first snap on varsity, I swear everything was moving 20 times faster than JV,”; Manley said of his sophomore season. “;Now I can see everything. It's slowed down and I can drop back and read.”;

With Oregon State-bound Mana Rosa anchoring Baldwin's pass rush, Manley might not have much time when the two powerhouse programs meet again tomorrow, this time at War Memorial Stadium on Maui.

“;I think we'll have a strong defense,”; said Rosa, who sacked Manley twice last year. “;We have to put a lot of pressure on him. We've been watching a lot of video of him. He's gotten better. He clicks better with his receivers now.”;

Every team in this week's opening round had a bye last week, which usually helps with much-needed healing for banged, bruised bodies after three months of football.

League champions Kahuku and Punahou have first-round byes this week in D-I, and Iolani and Lahainaluna drew byes in D-II.

Here's a look at the matchups.



Leilehua at Baldwin, War Memorial Stadium

On paper: Between the scraggly grass and slick mud of Hugh Yoshida Stadium and the fast FieldTurf of Aloha Stadium, the Mules (9-2) will be just as happy to run on the plush natural surface of War Memorial Stadium tomorrow.

Many of the key players in last year's battle are back. Manley, who passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns, is the steersman in Leilehua's multiple-set offense. At the time, Manley was still new to the varsity level, making only his fourth start. He was 19-for-37 and faced a fierce pass rush led by Rosa.

Wide receiver Edieson Dumlao was highly effective last year with eight catches for 123 yards.

Manley and Dumlao have posted big numbers this season. Manley has passed for 2,574 yards and Dumlao has 56 receptions for 727 yards. Rico Newman (418 rushing yards, 48 receptions for 512 yards) is also one of the top punters in the state.

After dominating the MIL for years, Baldwin (8-1) struggled past some of its league foes this year. First-year quarterback Bula Wilhelm-Ioane is more like Moniz (a scrambler) than Helle (pocket passer), but he showed a remarkable penchant for pulling out dramatic comeback victories. The transfer passed for 1,741 yards (85-for-174) with 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

His top target is Sheldon Leong, who led the MIL with 30 receptions, 501 yards and six scores. Running back Kainalu Garso rushed for 546 yards (7.4 per carry) to lead the league.

The Bears, believe it or not, had a balanced offense. In MIL play, they averaged 153.7 rushing yards per game and passed for 173.8 per game.

The skinny: Baldwin relied on Helle's arm to stay with Leilehua last time. Though Helle threw for 303 yards and four touchdowns, he was also picked off three times. With Wilhelm-Ioane and an occasional double-tight end set, Baldwin may have the formula to put the freeze on Leilehua's hot defense.

All the offensive firepower that scored touchdowns against Leilehua graduated. Leilehua's defense showed some weakness against the run early in the season in a home loss to Waianae, but steadily improved and shut out the same Seariders in a crucial OIA playoff two weeks ago. Linebacker Nate Hall, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound senior with a 4.3 grade-point average, is one of Leilehua's key defensive stoppers.

X factor: Rosa, a 6-2, 250-pound senior, has played well despite suffering an arm injury during the summer. With a 6-inch titanium rod in his forearm, the future Oregon State Beaver could have Manley on the run again.

If and when that happens, Newman and Cheves Aberilla-Ramento (37 receptions, 667 yards) become vital.

“;Every day we practice our routes, and if we read the defense, we can do hot routes,”; Manley said.


Kealakehe at Farrington, Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium

On paper: For the first time in three years, Kealakehe's first-round opponent will not be Waianae. In 2006, Kealakehe lost at Waianae 28-14. At home last year, the Waveriders lost to the Seariders 21-17.

Kealakehe (9-2) opened this season with a lot of new faces. Kawai Kanuha graduated, leaving big shoes to fill at quarterback. Since losing to crosstown rival Konawaena and Kahuku in nonconference games, the Waveriders have won eight in a row. Jordan Ursua's conversion from wide receiver to quarterback was a big move by coach Gary Clark.

Farrington (8-3) has been one of the most consistent teams in the state. The Governors lost to Kahuku in the OIA title game 22-19 even with quarterback Dayton Kealoha sidelined (shoulder). Kealoha has been cleared to play tomorrow.

The skinny: Winning the BIIF has often involved elusive, running quarterbacks over the years. That might not work so well against deep, athletic defenses from other leagues. Farrington has speed everywhere, including safety (James Smith), linebacker (Isiah Iuta, Sila Tonga) and defensive end (V.J. Fehoko).

Despite running back Apelu So'oalo's ailing shoulder, the Govs have enough depth and blocking—this O-line is the second generation of heralded “;Bamboolas”;—to stick with a run-first West Coast attack. Kealakehe surrendered 455 rushing yards in last year's loss to Waianae.

Kealakehe's solid 4-3 defense will face one of the state's top rushers in So'oalo, who has rushed for 965 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Farrington's stellar defense will see the flex option, popularized by Florida coach Urban Meyer, for the first time this season.

“;The quarterback (Ursua) is a good athlete,”; Farrington coach Randall Okimoto said. “;He runs well. He's their focal point on offense and a returner. He kind of reminds me of Kapolei's quarterback (Noah Pascua), who is a slippery guy.”;

X factor: Contrary to some online rumors, Fehoko is not expected to line up at running back.

“;Definitely not. In fact, we took him off the only offensive set he was in,”; Okimoto explained.

Another rumor, that So'oalo was heading back to American Samoa to compete in an international rugby tournament, is also not true.

“;He was having some problems at home, but his father came here (from Samoa) and they worked things out,”; Okimoto said.

So'oalo's kicking prowess—he has seven field goals—is another key element.



Campbell at Konawaena

On paper: Campbell (10-1) has the size and speed of a D-I contender. From Day 1, new Campbell coach Amosa Amosa's run-and-shoot offense put up big numbers. The longtime Aiea assistant coach returned to his alma mater with the new formation and taught Lalo Respicio the ropes. Respicio responded with 26 touchdown passes and only six picks in eight games. His 2,287 passing yards ranks among the state's best.

He has targets aplenty from speedy slotback Samson Anguay (29 receptions, 532 yards) to Arthur Aiwohi (43 catches, 737 yards) to Daniel Masifilo (32 catches, 587 yards, 10 touchdowns).

The Sabers are one of only two Division II teams that are ranked in the Star-Bulletin Top 10.

Konawaena (10-2) is having a Cinderella season despite a recent loss at Kamehameha-Hawaii. Injuries have plagued the Wildcats all season, but coach Aaron Nagata has maneuvered his lineup smoothly.

The skinny: Konawaena is without several starters due to injury, including quarterback Tommy Deniz (collarbone). Backup signal-caller Sam Unger and wide receiver Burke Nagata are playing hurt. The Wildcats went without a bye for nearly three months, but a couple of off-weeks in the past month has helped.

Safety Daniel Royce has played big in the clutch for the Wildcats, and he will possibly see time at wide receiver.

Respicio, still learning the nuances of the run and shoot, showed a tendency to lock into his deep targets. He was picked off three times in the OIA White final against Radford.

Linebacker Isaac Torres, who had 11 tackles in the Radford game, is one of the anchors of Campbell's blitz-oriented defense.

X factor: Lack of depth could hinder the BIIF champs again. Since the state-tournament format was created, Big Island teams have yet to win a game.


Radford at Kauai, Vidinha Stadium

On paper: Radford (8-3) has its most balanced team in recent years, which is a plus against the run-and-shoot Red Raiders (8-0).

The week off helped the Rams, who withstood injuries to starting quarterback Doug Brown and Tama Fiaseu in midseason. Brown passed for 1,030 yards and 13 touchdowns and is at his best throwing on the run.

Fiaseu, a compact 185-pound bruiser, shares carries with James Jennings. Each has 67 carries so far for a combined 550 yards.

Coach Fred Salanoa is apt to spread the ball all over the field. Shawn Putman-Curry (43 receptions, 502 yards, six touchdowns) is a deep-ball threat, but Brad Osborne (34, 373, eight scores), Deshawn Robinson (26, 292) and tight end Andrew Forrester (17, 188) are busy, too.

Salanoa's play-calling will test Kauai's top defenders—Chris Honorato, Chris Longboy and Blake Guest, who shared the KIF lead in tackles for loss.

Kauai's Keala Lovell and Cameron Largusa paced the KIF in interceptions with five and four.

In six league games, quarterback Trey Shimabukuro passed for 1,409 yards (234.8 per game) and 18 touchdowns with just five picks. Sheldon Sakai dominated defensive backs with 39 catches for 635 yards and six scores.

Red Raiders running back Peleku Yasay rushed for 499 yards (5.7 per attempt) and five touchdowns.

The skinny: This is one of Kauai's better teams, and Shimabukuro matured significantly in his second year as a starter. The passing nature of Kauai's offense puts pressure on its defense, and Radford's ground game may be the best it has seen so far.

Radford's defense, led by UH-bound Marcus Malepeai, is fast and physical—a big test for Kauai's offensive line.

X factor: Brown is mobile, but backup Mosiah Manuma started several games and has breakaway speed. Manuma rushed for 71 yards on just five carries in a playoff win over Aiea.