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FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Isaac Laupola has already racked up 483 yards receiving for Campbell this season and has scored nine touchdowns.
Senior Isaac Laupola plays wide
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receiver and defensive back for the
OIA White-contending Sabers
He's already accomplished more on the football field than most do in a career. He's been named an all-star both as a defensive back and a wide receiver, and he led the league in receiving last season.
But for Campbell's Isaac Laupola, his senior season has been less about the numbers and individual accomplishments and more about leading his team toward its goal of winning the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Conference.
"I could get 1,000 yards receiving this year and it would be no good if we don't win," Laupola said.
As a receiver, defensive back, kick returner and part-time kicker, he has stepped up as the team's leader and shown by example that team goals should always come first.
"We have certain people who are very talented, but they know we still have to work as a team," Sabers head coach Tumoana Kenessey said. "Isaac is one of those guys who just being on the field already gives us an advantage."
The Sabers almost never got to see what Laupola could do on a football field. He didn't even play the game until his freshman year.
"Football just seemed to be the sport down here, so I decided to play," Laupola said.
From rookie to seasoned veteran, Laupola has arguably become as important to Campbell's success as any player on any team in the OIA this season.
With 483 receiving yards and nine touchdowns already this season, Laupola's big-play ability is evident on offense. But in a game against Kaiser earlier this season, it was his work on defense against OIA White-leading receiver Matt Ching that showed his coach just how special of a player Laupola is.
"I had another defensive back on (Ching), and he took a pass for a touchdown right off the bat," Kenessey said.
"So I went up to Isaac and told him to play defense instead of offense, and he guarded Ching and did an excellent job of containing him."
Laupola prefers playing receiver over defensive back.
"I'd rather have people chasing me than me chasing people," he said.
Laupola made the switch, knowing he could make a bigger impact on the game.
"As a captain, I have to lead by example and the team feeds off of me," Laupola said. "Coach told me to play defense against Ching and he's a good receiver, but I just knew I had to do it for the team."
The Sabers went on to defeat Kaiser to take over the OIA White lead.
"His switch to defense was a big part of that victory," Kenessey said.
The Sabers have since dropped into a tie for first after last week's 28-27 loss to Waipahu.
Doing whatever the coach asks of him, Laupola has led by example on the field, but the senior knows that he has to be the same way on campus and around town.
"I've not only had to step up my game, but being a leader means doing things off the field as well, like getting good grades and studying hard for college," Laupola said.
College has been a motivating factor for Laupola. After struggling earlier in high school with grades, he is now striving to become the first person from his family to go to college.
"He has focused harder in the classroom from when he was a sophomore and to see how hard he is trying and how his grades have improved is a true sign of the maturity he has shown both as a person and football player," Kenessey said.
Laupola's parents have also played an important role in the growth of their son. They regularly attend practices, even though they are not from a football background, and they've also stressed the important of going to college.
"(His parents) are very supportive of his schooling, and they know his athletic ability will help him as a path to get his foot in the door," Kenessey said.
Laupola has no specific places he wants to go, but will go wherever an opportunity presents itself that's the best for him and his family.
"Of course, lots of people want you to stay home and go to UH," Laupola said. "I'm just hoping for an opportunity somewhere."
Wherever that place is, his coach thinks some college may get lucky with Isaac.
"I truly believe that he is a legitimate Division I prospect," Kenessey said. "He has lots of upside and potential, and with continued coaching at the next level, this kid can go a long way."
For now, Laupola is relishing the middle of his senior season as he tries to lead Campbell toward an OIA championship.
Five teams are within one game of each other heading into the final two games of the conference season. The Sabers and Marauders are 4-1 in the OIA White, while Radford, Moanalua and Kalaheo are all 3-2.
"We knew it was going to be like this," Laupola said. "Our coaching is good, our O and D-lines have been blocking well, and we still can achieve our main goal of winning a championship."
And with a playmaker like Laupola, who has scored TDs on offense, defense and special teams this season, the Sabers see no reason why they won't come out on top.