Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, August 21, 2001


Quarterback Inoke Funaki and his Kahuku teammates
are trying to defend their Oahu Interscholastic
Association and state championships this year.

Taking off

Kahuku passes its first test as
the state's new top team

By Jason Kaneshiro

NEW title. Same old Red Raiders.

Kahuku enters the new high school football season carrying a most unfamiliar prefix -- defending state champion. But the Red Raiders are spending the waning days of summer in their customary role as a favorite in the race for the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference title.

Memories of their victory over St. Louis in the state title game last December, as well as the signs and streamers that lined Kamehameha Highway for much of the winter, have long been packed away. Now the Red Raiders prepare for their regular season opener against Kaimuki on Friday night.

"It's over with," Kahuku coach Siuaki Livai said. "Right now it's a new season and everything is up in the air.

"It's not like the goal is to repeat," he added. "The goal is to go out and win each week. ... This is a different group and they need to do their own thing. The kids know that they cannot ride on last year's glory. It's not even on our minds. We just know we have to work hard each week."

While the Red Raiders focus on the upcoming season, the impact of their breakthrough is still being felt around the state, as teams view the state championship as a more tangible goal.

"It made it even more so for the OIA teams and it even opened the eyes of the neighbor island teams," first-year Farrington coach David Pila said.

And now that Kahuku has attained the throne of Hawaii prep football, the Red Raiders must now face a kingdom of contenders eager to knock them off, starting with Kaimuki.

"I expect everybody to be good," Livai said. "We're capable of losing to anybody any week. We tend to beat ourselves more than anything, so if we don't play our best we can really mess it up."

But just as St. Louis has dominated for 14 years, Kahuku and Waianae have established themselves as the Goliaths of the OIA.

The Red Raiders and Seariders have combined to win 15 of the last 16 league championships. The only other school to claim a title over that span was Farrington in 1990. And both teams appear primed to return to the top of the conference standings again this season.

"The road always goes through Kahuku and Waianae, and that should be the case this year," said Leilehua coach Cass Ishitani, whose team opens against Waianae on Saturday.

Kahuku passed its first test of the new season, beating Skyline (Utah) 19-14 last Friday. The Red Raiders are loaded with offensive weapons, led by quarterback Inoke Funaki and running back Mulivai Pula, who will operate behind an always beefy offensive line. James Kammerer and Loga Fonoimoana also return as one of the league's best receiving duos. The Red Raiders defense should be one of the league's best, led by Jonathan Mapu, who is regarded as one of the nation's top linemen.

Lost amid the frenzy surrounding Kahuku's state championship victory was the fact that Waianae actually won the Red Conference title last year. The Seariders beat the Red Raiders 12-7 en route to an undefeated regular season, but lost in the rematch in the OIA championship game 32-12.

Waianae beat AJ Dimond of Alaska 27-14 last Saturday in its preseason warm-up, and second-year coach Dan Matsumoto hopes his team can take the next step, just as Kahuku did last year.

"We always felt that we could do it, that's always our goal," Waianae coach Dan Matsumoto said. "We have to believe that, otherwise why bother practicing?"

Kailua also returns a number of key performers on both sides of the ball, including all-conference quarterback Taleki Mailau. Farrington opens a new era under first-year coach David Pila and hopes to contend for the title.

Kaimuki advanced to the state tournament semifinals last season, but must replace do-everything standouts Kila Kamakawiwo'ole and Justin Faimealelei. Mililani and Leilehua retained their places in the Red last year, while White Conference tri-champions Campbell, Castle and McKinley move up this fall.

The following is a team-by-team look at the OIA Red Conference race:


Coach: Tumoana Kenessey

2000 record: 8-2, Oahu Interscholastic Association White Conference tri-champion. Lost to Waianae in OIA quarterfinals.

Players to watch: RB Shauncey Saito, OL/DL Kawika Ishikawa, LB Aaron Lane, DB Satia Ioane.

Outlook: A solid senior class helped the Sabers reach the White Conference summit last year. Now a young Campbell squad must replace those leaders while adjusting to Red competition. Saito may have to carry much of the load on offense as the Sabers will emphasize controlling the ball and the clock against the division powers.


Coach: Nelson Maeda

2000 record: 9-4, OIA White tri-champion. Lost to St. Louis in state quarterfinals.

Players to watch: QB Joel Botelho, SB Loren Lum, DB Jared Prestidge, LB Joe McKeague.

Outlook: Castle moves up from the White with experience at the skill positions, but the Knights are thin along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. For Castle to survive in the Red, a young offensive line must give Botelho time to work his magic. Slotbacks Lum and Ikaika Ho will be his primary targets.


Coach: David Pila

2000 record: 5-5, fifth place, OIA Red. Lost to Kaimuki in OIA quarterfinals.

Players to watch: QB Gilbert Sa, WR Chad Mock, LB Falaniko Noga, DL Lawrence Wilson, DL Justin Luafalemana.

Outlook: Pila hopes to restore Farrington's emphasis on the running game, meaning a young offensive line will have to jell quickly for the Governors to challenge for the conference title. The Govs' offense will look to Sa for leadership. Returning linemen Wilson and Luafalemana anchor the defensive front.


Coach: Siuaki Livai

2000 record: 13-2, state, OIA champion. OIA Red runner-up.

Players to watch: QB Inoke Funaki, RB Mulivai Pula, WR James Kammerer, DL Jonathan Mapu.

Outlook: Funaki and Pula headline an experienced offense featuring weapons all over the field. Kammerer and Loga Fonoimoana provide Funaki with reliable targets, while fullback Earvin Atuaia is effective both as a blocker and runner. Mapu, who is fielding scholarship offers from several major colleges, is the leader of a swarming defense.


Coach: Darren Johnson

2000 record: 6-4, fourth place, OIA Red. Lost to Castle in OIA quarterfinals.

Players to watch: QB Taleki Mailau, WR Ryan Lum, OL Sam Satele, OL Kahai LaCount, DB Jeff Cummings, DB Cody Texiera-Vickery.

Outlook: The Surfriders feature perhaps the best throw-and-catch combo in the league in Mailau and Lum. Mailau, a three-year starter, tossed 16 touchdown passes last season, seven to Lum. Satele, LaCount and Marques Kaonohi anchor the offensive line. Cummings, Texiera-Vickery and junior linebacker Koa Sniffen return to lead the defense.


Coach: Ronald Oyama

2000 record: 9-4, third place, OIA Red. Lost to Kahuku in state semifinals.

Players to watch: RB Chanceton Mirafuentes, QB Jordon Caires, OL/DL Kaulana Kaluna, RB/DL Soloni Taumalolo.

Outlook: The Bulldogs return an experienced cast looking to escape the shadow of Kahuku and Waianae. The team's senior leadership was apparent in the offseason, as the team had 90 percent attendance for its conditioning program that started in February. At 5 feet 2 inches, Mirafuentes is diminutive, but finished second in the conference in rushing last year. Look for running back/linebacker Leland Ohelo to contribute on both sides of the ball.


Coach: David Tanuvasa

2000 record: 8-2, OIA White tri-champion. Lost to Kahuku in OIA quarterfinals.

Players to watch: RB Kimo Terry, RB Lorgan Pau, OL Taase Jennings, OL Salesi Fifita-Atkins.

Outlook: For McKinley to compete for the conference title, the Tigers must stay healthy. The Tigers return a number of talented starters -- seven on defense -- but Tanuvasa says they lack depth, and avoiding injuries will be vital to their success. Terry and Pau provide a formidable backfield tandem and coaches are high on junior quarterback Anapuni Coleman.


Coach: James Millwood

2000 record: 4-6, sixth place, OIA Red.

Players to watch: OL Chris Lumauag, DL Kaipo Patoc, LB Braddah Kalahiki, RB Kepa Morris.

Outlook: The Trojans are banking on their defense to carry them this season. Patoc and Kalahiki are both three-year starters. The offense must replace all-conference running back Brian Daniels, but the line returns largely intact, led by all-star center CJ Lumauag. Morris will get the first shot at replacing Daniels.


Coach: Cass Ishitani

2000 record: 2-7, tied for seventh place, OIA Red.

Players to watch: QB Spencer Omalza, OL Leevye Paparillo, OL Junior Pakau, DL Patrick Vito, LB Rory Jones.

Outlook: Omalza, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound sophomore quarterback, returns with a full season of experience and greater confidence. The offensive line, led by Paparillo and Pakau, must perform well for Omalza and the offense to continue to improve. Vito and Jones provide leadership for the Mules defense.


Coach: Daniel Matsumoto

2000 record: 12-2, OIA Red champion. Lost to St. Louis in state semifinals.

Players to watch: QB Kekoa Reyes, OL Lionel Lindley-Molina, WR Teacel Hines, LB Russell Bell.

Outlook: Reyes, an all-conference defensive back last season, takes over at quarterback this year. The Seariders hope to utilize Reyes' athleticism to run their ground-based attack. Among the linemen clearing the way for the backs will be 6-3, 430-pound Mark Tuinei. Bell spearheads an always stingy Searider defense.

This week's games

OIA Regular Season

(Junior Varsity game start at 5 p.m. with varsity games to follow)
Friday, Aug. 24
Kaimuki at Kahuku
Mililani at Castle
Campbell at Kailua
Kalani at Waipahu
Kaiser at Roosevelt
Pearl City at Nanakuli
Kapolei at Waialua (JV only, 6 p.m.)
Leilehua at Waianae
Farrington vs. McKinley, at Roosevelt
Radford at Aiea
Moanalua vs. Kalaheo, at Kailua


Friday, Aug. 24
Honokaa vs. Kapaa at Vidinha Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Timpview (Utah) vs. Kamehameha, at Aloha Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Kearny (Calif.) at Iolani, 3:15 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 25
Waiakea at Punahou, noon
Hawaii Prep vs. Kauai, at Vidinha Stadium, 2 p.m.
Hilo vs. Waimea, at Hanapepe Ball Park, 7:30 p.m.
Dana Hills (Calif.) vs. Pac-Five, at Aloha Stadium, 5 p.m.
San Clemente (Calif.) vs. St. Louis, at Aloha Stadium, 7:30 p.m.

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