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StarBulletin.com

Undersized and dangerous


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POSTED: Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When you've been friends with someone since kindergarten, you're going to have a deep trust in that person. When you first started playing bitty football with that same someone on the playground during elementary school recesses and have been playing organized football together since the sixth grade, then you're bound to have an ingrained understanding of what he's going to do on the field.

It was Pac-Five's most successful play last season. In a scramble reminiscent of the unscripted, spontaneous playground games, quarterback P.J. Minaya would run around wildly behind the line of scrimmage before heaving a perfect spiral that would seemingly always settle into the strong hands of receiver and friend Darin Kamealoha, no matter where he was on the field.

“;I know if I throw to him, he's going to make a play and I can trust him,”; Minaya said. “;It always seems like he always finds a way to get open.”;

“;We have that chemistry where if he's running around scrambling, he knows I'll be open somewhere,”; Kamealoha said. “;He has that trust that I'll just get open and he can just throw it to me.”;

That impromptu, on-field rapport helped the two from Mililani's Hanalani School put up gaudy numbers as juniors for Pac-Five last season. And it's the competitive edge that the Wolfpack are hoping can lead the team to a successful campaign this season.

Last year, with 11 new starters on offense and Minaya and Kamealoha making their varsity debuts, Pac-Five's season started with promise.

The Wolfpack dropped 50 points in a mid-August victory over Waialua.

In the Interscholastic League of Honolulu opener against Word of Life in early September, Minaya completed 37 of 51 passes for 511 yards and seven touchdowns. He had 200 yards in the first quarter and 298 by halftime.

“;I think he's a born quarterback,”; said Pac-Five head coach Kip Botelho, who has been with the program since 1982. “;He has a natural ability to make plays, especially when nothing is there.”;

Against Word of Life, Kamealoha took the second play from scrimmage 65 yards for the first score of many. He finished with 11 catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

But as is often the case with first-year starters in the brutally tough ILH, Pac-Five's two stars also took their share of knocks. The Wolfpack were on the wrong end of blowout losses to Saint Louis (52-7) and Punahou (57-7). Minaya, who was under constant pressure all season long behind an unseasoned offensive line, suffered a concussion against Kamehameha and missed the Punahou drubbing in which Kamealoha subbed in at quarterback.

Those embarrassing defeats and last season's disappointing 3-9 record (2-7 ILH) have served as motivation for Pac-Five's two stars.

Kamealoha, a third-team All-State wide receiver last year, devoted his offseason to a personal trainer who worked on his strength and change-of-direction quickness. The work has paid off, he said, and the 5-foot-10 receiver has bulked up (relatively speaking) to about 160 pounds.

With Kamealoha being a dangerous kick returner and running back as well, Botelho's biggest challenge is getting him enough touches.

“;He's just an athlete,”; the coach said. “;We could probably put him anywhere on the field and he would excel. He just has that athletic ability.”;

Minaya, who is scrawny (5-10 and generously said he weighs 150 pounds) but possesses a strong right arm, was inconsistent last season and admittedly forced too many balls and threw too many interceptions. He is now much more comfortable in his team's shotgun, no-huddle, fast-break offense.

All that bodes well for Pac-Five's hopes this season.

“;They're not the prototype quarterback (or) receiver, but they can play,”; Botelho said of his undersized threats. “;I'm hoping that someone sees that, as far as a college, and takes a chance on them. You can't teach some of the stuff that they do.”;

STAR-BULLETIN TOP 10

The Top 10 high school football teams as voted on by coaches and media from around the state. First-place votes in parentheses. Ten points for first-place votes, nine for second, eight for third, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
TEAM, RECORDLAST GAMENEXT GAMEPTS.PVS.
1. Saint Louis (14), 1-0beat Waianaevs. Kaimuki1761
2. Kahuku (2), 1-0beat Kealakehevs. Punahou1523
3. Punahou (2), 0-0none last weekvs. Kahuku1234
4. Leilehua, 1-0beat Radfordat Mililani1192
5. Kamehameha, 1-0beat Hilovs. Kailua1006
6. Farrington, 1-0beat Campbellnone this week875
7. Kapolei, 1-0beat KS-Hawaiiat Waianae757
8. Waianae, 0-1lost to Saint Louisvs. Kapolei5610
9. 'Iolani, 1-0beat Kaiserat Castle379
10. Mililani, 1-0beat Moanaluavs. Leilehua328

» Also receiving votes: Castle 17, Pac-Five 6, Aiea 2, Campbell 2, Kailua 2, Radford 2, Waipahu 2.