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Mules' Akagi on the mend


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POSTED: Wednesday, November 11, 2009

On a hot Monday afternoon, he sits next to the locker room with a visitor. Classmates walk by, waving and smiling. Friends drive past and honk. It's almost as if Kamana Akagi—Mana to friends and family—was mayor of Wahiawa, voted in by a landslide. Or they're just glad to see him back to normal, sort of.

In the span of a few seconds, time went by in a blur for Akagi and his family, for Akagi and his adopted family—Leilehua's football team. Coming into last Friday's Oahu Interscholastic Association Red championship game with Kahuku, the senior receiver had amassed whopping numbers as Andrew Manley's primary target. Akagi had 58 receptions for 957 yards and nine touchdowns in 10 games, then added a touchdown catch as the Mules galloped to a 20-10 second-half lead on Kahuku.

It was in the fourth quarter, 7:35 left, when time froze. Moments after Kahuku closed the gap to 20-17 on a blocked punt and recovery in the end zone, Akagi ran a crossing route and went low for a pass when he was clipped on the head by a Kahuku defender coming from the opposite direction. What seemed to be a routine play turned into a moment of terror for Dean and Angel Akagi as their son laid there on his back, barely moving for the next several minutes.

Mana's arms were both up, and one leg moved slightly. But he wasn't conscious, and as Leilehua's trainers sprinted to the fallen receiver, a hush fell over Aloha Stadium. Within another minute, the gravity of the situation was evident and prayers were whispered into the late-night sky.

A few seconds felt like years for Dean and Angel Akagi. After 10 minutes, it felt more like an eternity. Their son had played football since his Pop Warner days as an 11-year-old, first for the Wahiawa Thunderbolts, and then for the Mililani Trojans. Injuries came and went, but this was beyond normal.

One of his oldest friends, offensive lineman Jiniki Timoteo, tried to stay on one knee with his team in prayer, but this hit too close to home. Timoteo suffered a concussion a year ago, which became a brain bleed—subdural hematoma—and ended his season. He eventually healed up and returned to the team this season, but to see Akagi on the ground, unconscious in the biggest game of season, was too much.

“;I seen it happen in front of me. I was thinking the worst. I dropped my helmet,”; Timoteo said. “;I couldn't really think. I couldn't really stick with my team. I was too busy crying.”;

Timoteo's family, sitting next to Akagi's family in the bleachers, prayed for the best.

“;His dad was panicking and stuff,”; Timoteo said.

Kahuku's entire team prayed for their fallen opponent. The defender on the play came over to Leilehua coach Nolan Tokuda twice, asking how Akagi was doing.

Stabilized by trainers and paramedics, Akagi was wheeled into a waiting ambulance, raising his left arm and pointing to the sky. Maybe he would be all right, after all.

“;We're glad we have the best trainers and doctors,”; Angel Akagi said. “;It put us at ease.”;

BY THE TIME he arrived at Queen's Medical Center, Akagi was beginning to regain full consciousness. A parade of family and friends were there, anxiously awaiting word about his condition. It was 1:30 in the morning when he found out from his father that the Mules had lost to the Red Raiders.

Leilehua, without its finest receiver, clearly missed him. But the Mules had broken hearts, at least overnight, because they weren't sure how Akagi was doing.

By 7:45 a.m., they began to hear about his improved condition.

“;I got a text from him,”; said Manley, who's known Akagi since eighth grade. “;He was asking how I was doing. I was just worried about him.”;

By 9 a.m., the Mules gathered at Hugh Yoshida Stadium for their usual Saturday morning “;practice,”; which is more like a post-game breakdown. They were shocked to see Akagi there.

“;I told my mom I had to come. I missed these guys so much,”; he said. “;I told them, 'Thank you for your prayers and blessings.' “;

Tokuda is optimistic about his receivers if Akagi doesn't return.

“;We're going to move ahead and hopefully someone steps up,”; Tokuda said. “;If the doctors clear him, that would be great, but if not, it's not just his talent we'll miss. It's the leadership he brings.”;

HIGH SCHOOL BRIEFS

Volleyball standouts sign today

Combines and letter-of-intent press conferences have revolved around football for Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance for nearly a decade.

This morning, though, is mostly about volleyball. PIAA will host a signing event at Honolulu Design Center. At least 12 student-athletes will participate beginning at 9 a.m.

SOS gets another large donation

The James and Abigail Campbell Family Foundation's $100,000 donation to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association's Save Our Sports fund has pushed the campaign's total to more than $1.3 million.

The project began in July after athletic budgets were slashed by $1.2 million by the Department of Education.

“;We're still receiving donations every day, so we'll keep doing it,”; HHSAA executive director Keith Amemiya said. “;It's extremely gratifying.”;

Top volleyballers meet in invitational

The second annual OC 16 Senior Volleyball Invitational is set for tomorrow and Friday at McKinley Student Council Gym.

The event features seniors representing each of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu and Oahu Interscholastic Association's girls volleyball programs and will be broadcast on OC 16.

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK

Hauoli Jamora
Kahuku
He had five sacks and recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red title game win over Leilehua.

HONOR ROLL

Football

» London Amorin, Pac-Five: nine receptions for 200 yards and three touchdowns against Word of Life
» Jarrett Arakawa, 'Iolani: passed for 243 yards and three touchdowns without a pick against Damien
» T.C. Campbell, Kamehameha: hurled five touchdown passes without an interception against Punahou
» Nalu Enos, Leilehua: seven tackles against Kahuku
» Brenan Furtado, Damien: rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown against 'Iolani
» Ryan Ho, Kamehameha: rushed for 153 yards on 32 carries against Punahou
>> Shaydon Kehano, Castle: 11 receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns, and also returned a punt 72 yards for another touchdown against Farrington; he also had 11 tackles on defense
» Jaymason Lee, Castle: passed for 275 yards and three touchdowns against Farrington
» Andrew Manley, Leilehua: passed for 245 yards and three touchdowns against Kahuku
» Jacob Martin, Castle: nine tackles, including a sack, against Farrington
» Cameron Mercado, Kahuku: five kickoffs for touchbacks and a 42-yard field goal against Leilehua
» P.J. Minaya, Pac-Five: passed for 337 yards and five touchdowns against Word of Life
» Cy Pana, Castle: 10 tackles, including a sack, against Farrington
» Awa Poggi, Word of Life: rushed for 171 yards and a touchdown on 37 attempts against Pac-Five
» Kona Schwenke, Kahuku: six tackles, including two sacks, against Leilehua
» Charles Tauaefa, Farrington: six tackles, one blocked punt and a fumble recovery for a touchdown against Castle
» Harry Tuimaseve, Farrington: rushed for 178 yards on 36 carries against Castle
» Trevyn Tulonghari, 'Iolani: three receptions for 108 yards, including two touchdowns, against Damien

TO NOMINATE » Call: 529-4782 » Fax: 529-4787 » E-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)