Hernandez wants to see Kapolei reach higher


POSTED: Saturday, August 08, 2009

If Darren Hernandez had his way, there would be no Hurricane tracker.

The Kapolei football coach would like nothing better than some anonymity for his team. He was quite surprised to learn that the Hurricanes are ranked No. 7 in the Star-Bulletin Preseason Football Top 10.

“;I wish we were off the radar,”; said Hernandez, now in his eighth year of guiding the varsity program. His two years prior to that were spent building Kapolei's junior varsity program after the school opened in 2000.

The 'Canes lost immense talent to graduation: offensive linemen Stan Hasiak (UCLA) and Luke Spencer (Arizona Western), linebackers/fullbacks Simione Vehikite (USC) and Cyril Ontai (Navy), defensive backs Kalani Brackenridge (UH baseball) and Lyle Santiago (Linfield), and defensive end/linebacker Chad Lopati (Arizona Western).






With the high school football season approaching, the Star-Bulletin is counting down its preseason Top 10:
        10. Waianae
        9. 'Iolani
        8. Mililani
        7. Kapolei
        6. Tomorrow
        5. Monday
        4. Tuesday
        3. Wednesday
        2. Thursday
        1. Friday


“;Those are big holes to fill,”; Hernandez said. “;But the good news is we got some good players back.”;

Two years ago, the Hurricanes upset Kahuku on the North Shore in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red playoffs. Last year, Kapolei was one and done with a loss to eventual state qualifier Farrington. Reaching the state tourney — that's been elusive so far.

“;We're not where we want to be. Kahuku, Farrington, Leilehua, Waianae, they're still above us,”; Hernandez said. “;We're in the conversation, but it would be nice to move up.”;

2008: 5-4 (4-3 OIA Red).

On paper: The Hurricanes return five starters on each side of the ball, including Noah Pascua, one of the top quarterbacks in the state. Last year, he passed for 828 yards (64-for-116) with 10 scores and only four picks. He also ran for 346 yards and four touchdowns.

Pascua was named one of the top two passers at the All-Poly Camp in July.

“;Norm Chow (of UCLA) said he throws the three-step go route as well as anyone he's coached at any level,”; Hernandez said. “;He's got great velocity and accuracy.”;

Guard Alex Paiva and center/guard Paul Belford are a pair of 6-foot-2, 310-pound returning starters who are the anchors of a young offensive line.

Donny King and Elijah Tagura are returning starters at wide receiver. They spent a lot of time in the offseason honing their aerial connection with Pascua.






Aug. 21 Waianae
        Aug. 29 at 'Iolani
        Sept. 5 at Nanakuli
        Sept. 11 Leilehua
        Sept. 18 at Waipahu
        Sept. 25 Campbell
        Oct. 3 at Mililani
        Oct. 10 Kailua


2008 (5-4)
Kapolei 43, KS-Hawaii 0
        Kamehameha 26, Kapolei 18
        Waianae 34, Kapolei 0
        Kapolei 40, Nanakuli 0
        Leilehua 21, Kapolei 7
        Kapolei 26, Waipahu 20, OT
        Kapolei 41, Pearl City 0
        Kapolei 20, Mililani 14
        2008 playoffs
Farrington 37, Kapolei 20


Also back is fullback Onosai Faumuina, who shed 20 pounds and is a svelte 240 now.

Kapolei's spread offense has hybrid elements, able to run the option or the run-and-shoot attack. That makes Pascua's experience as a third-year varsity player invaluable.

Defensively, Dustin Elisara (6-2, 230) returns at middle linebacker, and safety Shaydon Akuna (6-2, 210) is ready for a more expanded role that will be similar to Ontai's duties.

“;He can play two-deep safety, but also get in the box against running teams,”; Hernandez said of Akuna, who has 15 scholarship offers.

Elisara, who had limited touches at fullback last year, is being recruited for both positions. He has five offers, Hernandez noted.

Kapolei has a solid front in its 4-3 alignment. Senior Niko Uti (6-2, 225) brings speed from the edge, and Fo'i Fo'i (6-3, 280) and Nick Ulu (6-2, 305) clog the middle.

The skinny: The Hurricanes may not be as explosive on defense as they were early last season when Lopati was healthy. However, there's still plenty of size and quickness there. Those qualities are great to have in a Red West that has smashmouth football (Waianae) and an aerial circus (Leilehua) and just about everything else in between.

The Hurricanes are hoping that renovations and additions to their facility will be done soon. Once the new bleachers and press box are completed, there will be room for about 4,000.

X factor: Depth is always a question mark. Kapolei hopes to find plenty of it with former JV players and with a handful of transfers. That should help offset the loss of three players, including a 6-7 defensive end who is now at Punahou. The others are a safety now at 'Iolani, and former backup quarterback Trent McKinney, who is now competing for a starting position at Mililani.

Conversely, a handful of new players arrived this year. Tuulauena Lolohea (6-2, 225) transferred from Radford, where he played defensive line. At Kapolei, he'll compete at linebacker and fullback.

Other new arrivals include safety Kainoa Pakele, originally from Hilo, who moved to Makakilo to live with his father and played on the Kapolei basketball team last season. Andrew “;Ace”; Morgan, a linebacker at Damien last season, is now at Kapolei. Another linebacker, Clinton Wise (5-9, 220), transferred from Moanalua.

“;If they're going to Punahou, 'Iolani or elsewhere, God bless 'em. I hold no grudges against anybody,”; Hernandez said.