Stanley hit foes, books hard


POSTED: Thursday, July 23, 2009
This story has been corrected. See below.

All Levi Stanley wanted to do was play football.

But little did the star defensive lineman from Waianae High School know that there was more than that when he decided to stay home and play for the Rainbows at the University of Hawaii.

Much more.

“;When I got there, you know I come from Waianae, education wasn't a high priority,”; he recalled about his first season at UH in 1969. “;I went in with the intentions of just playing football and going to the pros.

“;But then I ran into Larry Price.”;

Stanley, who stood 6-foot-2 and tipped the scales at 225, was no match for the Rainbows defensive coordinator.

“;I told him, 'I'm going to tell you something now that I want you to remember. There's nothing as dead as yesterday's football hero,' “; Price recalled. “;For a local guy, that's the difference.

“;He said, 'What do you mean?'

“;I said, long after you get through playing football you won't be able to walk, but you're still going to have your degree. That's the most important thing. I told him, 'Your mind is like a muscle. It's like your body. If you don't use it, it just goes to sleep.' “;

At that time, not much could scare Stanley. He was, as Price put it, the bull at Waianae. There was no question he could excel at the football side of things at UH.

But when Price asked if he could deal with basic English class, that was a different story.

“;When I went down there (to Waianae) to talk to him, I said, 'I know you're tough but I don't think you're tough enough to beat one of the most difficult things in college,' “; Price said of his recruiting trip to the Leeward side.

“;He told me, 'Hey, I can handle myself.'

“;And then I told him, 'Can you handle English 100?' “;

Education, it seems, would not be as easy to tackle for Stanley as opposing ballcarriers.

But he took Price's words to heart.

He hit the books and hit 'em hard. And he has the proof of it. Stanley graduated from UH with a B.A. degree in education and then got a master's, also in education, in 1980. That led to teaching jobs at Waianae, then Kalakaua Middle School and Kaimuki High School.

He said Price and friends Wesley Park and Harold Ohama helped him make the transition from athlete to student-athlete.

“;In fact, Park told me, 'Son, you can play football for the rest of your life, but if you don't get an education, you won't amount to anything.' They (Price, Park and Ohama) were my backbone when it came to education.

“;My parents, Ruth and Bobby Millirod—they're not my real parents, they took me off the streets and pointed me in the right direction. They were my heart and soul.”;

Hitting the books was not the only thing Stanley did at UH.

As one of the premier defensive tackles in school history, Stanley also put the hurt on opposing runners. He led the team in total tackles in 1972 with 113 (63 unassisted) as well as in '73 with 140 (77 solo). Stanley held the UH record in career total tackles with 366 until Solomon Elimimian broke the mark last season.

“;I was running the George Allen defense and in the George Allen-type defense, the inside left tackle is the key guy on the defense,”; said Price, who took over as the Rainbows head coach in 1974. “;You've got to have at least two guys to be able to block him. And he keeps everybody from blocking the linebacker at the same time.

“;So (Stanley) always played on the left side, on their right guard.

“;And absolutely a killer. There was nobody who could run up the center on us.”;

The 1973 game against Washington, a powerhouse in what was then the Pac-8, was a perfect example, Price said.

“;They called a timeout because they were in a situation where there were only 2 minutes left on the clock and they had to decide to go for a first down or kick the field goal to tie the game,”; he said. “;They were on something like the 20-yard line, so it would've been an easy field goal for them. But I said to the team, they're not going to kick the field goal. They're not even going to do a fake field goal. They're going to run Pete Taggares right over Levi Stanley. That's what they're going to do. That's what they're going to try and do.”;

Taggares, at that time, was a bull of a runner, with 13 touchdown the past two seasons. He's the guy you go to to get 1 yard.

Suffice it to say, Price knew what was coming.

“;I called all of them (defensive team) on the side and said, 'They've got fourth down and one here on the 20-yard line. What are they going to do?

“;Levi said, 'They're going to try run over me. No way.'

“;We threw them for a four-yard loss,”; Price added, “;and the stadium was quiet. And that was the game that really made him.”;

A home crowd of 52,500 at Husky Stadium saw Hawaii not only win its opener of the season but were witnesses to dominance at the line of scrimmage by Stanley, who finished the game with an astounding 16 tackles.

“;We went in as underdogs,”; said Stanley. “;We had had our backs against the wall when we went there.

“;There were a lot of memories but that (win over Washington) was the one that stood out for me.”;

It was something that Stanley will never forget.

That, and the words instilled in him by Price.

“;The hardest thing to convince the local kids is there's very little difference—in fact there are more similarities, than differences—between being athletically proficient and being academically proficient,”; Price said. “;Very little difference. It takes the same kind of effort, same kind of dedication.

“;It never ends. Once you start learning, you know, your mind is like a muscle, It's going to want more information. So once you get them hooked on the education part, the football part is easy.”;


Star-Bulletin page designer and former assistant sports editor Randy Cadiente was a Farrington quarterback, but never crossed paths with Stanley since the Oahu town schools rarely played the country schools 40 years ago. Tomorrow we unveil No. 7.





        » A quote attributed to Levi Stanley on Page 64 yesterday should have been attributed to Larry Price.