Damien teacher Phil Abe, left, said Kealoha Pilares is a great student and a great role model. Abe also tells other students to do what Pilares does.

By the numbers

Whether he's on the field or in the classroom,
Damien's Kealoha Pilares is good with numbers

The numbers don't lie in the world of Kealoha Pilares. In fact, these numbers may sound like music for longtime Damien alums and fans.

» Rushing yardage: 691 yards on 63 carries (nearly 11 yards per attempt), including seven touchdowns in just three games.

» The longest scoring jaunt: The 76-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Pac-Five, though the paydirt sprints of 68 and 64 yards against Kaimuki weren't too bad, either. The statistics would be even more spectacular if he hadn't missed the Nanakuli game with a concussion. There was also the 71-yard run against Pac-Five on Saturday.

Not to be forgotten, even more numbers.

» 21 feet, 1 1/4 inches in the state long jump meet, good for fifth place.

» And 44 feet, 11 1/2 inches in the triple jump to capture the state crown as a junior.

Perhaps the more impressive numbers are the ones Pilares accumulates in Room 212, where Phil Abe teaches AP Calculus and AP Physics.

In physics, Pilares is averaging a score of 100 so far this quarter, par for the course when his cumulative grade-point average is 3.9.

"I tell the kids I've never seen him play 'cause he's a blur. I couldn't recognize him," Abe said. "But he's a great student, a great model. I tell the younger kids, whatever he does, you should do."

Kealoha Pilares got a lift from his hefty offensive line, from left, Eddie Williams, Sione Tau, Jowyn Alapai, Bronson Tiwanak, Timo Gasolo and Kenneth Rossi. The six players weigh a combined 1,700 pounds.

Pilares doesn't say much, though he laughs at just about everything that he finds amusing. The suggestion of a photo with his offensive line was proper, though he wanted to stand with them. But the notion of Damien's rhino-sized bruisers carrying him, as they symbolically have so far this season, is what got Pilares and the big guys smiling.

Get this. Even though Pilares missed a game (against Nanakuli), he is on pace to break the 2,000-yard barrier. Of course, the remaining six games in the tough Interscholastic League of Honolulu will require an average of 218.2 yards per game for the senior to reach the milestone.

Just the fact that the Monarchs are on pace for any milestone of that nature is notable enough.

But maybe more amazing is he is a teenager who doesn't just like AP Physics, he loves physics.

The question that follows is just one word: Why?

The textbook for AP Physics class, the one Abe teaches, is the same one used at Punahou and many other high schools.

"Working on problems, I get to use reasoning," Pilares said. "There's no memorization involved."

It's not a far cry from his ability to deduce the parameters of opposing defenses on the gridiron. Damien's offense is a throwback of sorts, using an unbalanced line, brute force and finely-tuned execution -- 280-pound guards pulling ahead of Pilares -- to churn out yardage and burn minutes off the clock.

His breakaway speed is, frankly, breathtaking. Once he turns the corner, he is rarely touched.

Pretty good for a back who sat behind Ranson DeCosta, and then Va'a Faualo, until getting his chance to start this season. To a man, his offensive linemen say Pilares is the fastest back they've had in recent years.

Pilares says it's the O-line that has done the work consistently.

"They're better than in previous years 'cause they know each other. They don't care where the ball is. They love to finish their blocks," said Pilares, whose 5-foot-9, 175-pound frame hasn't taken too many hits this season.

Damien has been under the radar, even in the six-team ILH, thanks to the prowess of its four teams ranked in the Star-Bulletin Top 10. Damien's top challenger in the league's Division II battle is Iolani, which is ranked third in the poll.

Still, the Monarchs are 3-1 overall, and with a 41-3 win over Pac-Five, are off to a 1-0 start in league play.

As well as Pilares has played, the O-line has been the jewel of the monarchy. Co-coaches Dean Nakagawa and Rudy Alejo dream of a balanced attack, but with an offense that ran 71 percent of the time in the last three games, they continue to play smashball.

"They're all good kids," Nakagawa said. "Eddie (Williams) is basically the leader of the team emotionally. (Bronson) Tiwanak is coming into his own, and Timo (Gasolo) is a pleasant surprise. Sione (Tau) is still growing.

"They all can sing. Jowyn (Alapai) plays the ukulele. They are talented in a lot of ways.

"Kealoha is a true scholar-athlete, does a lot of extracurricular activities. He's very much a team guy," Nakagawa added. "He's doing a fantastic job and it starts with the guys up front."

Dedication in the weight room has paid dividends.

When they line up in the trenches, Damien's formidable group is made up of: Williams (6-foot, 280, senior) and Tau (6-7, 310, junior) at tackle; Alapai (5-9, 345, junior) and Gasolo (5-9, 280, junior) at guard; Tiwanak (6-2, 280, senior) at center and Kenneth Rossi (5-11, 205, junior) at tight end.

Tiwanak gets kudos from his peers for his leadership. "He's the cornerstone," Gasolo said.

"He's the one who calls (out) the blitzes," Pilares added.

When that happens, the entire line has been excellent communicating each other's revised assignments.

"We're so close that we know each other's weaknesses and strengths," Tau said.

That's what happens when the changes are echoed across the unbalanced line.

Gasolo does his best to get out and pull for Pilares, who has recorded a 40-yard time of 4.5, but seems much faster with the ball in his hands.

"Sometimes he passes by me, but pulling is fun," Gasolo said.

The bottom line is a matter of spirit.

"This is our brotherhood," Alapai said. "Kealoha knows he can trust us, and I know we all trust him."

Numbers mean nothing to the line, which had no idea exactly how much Pilares had run for already. In fact, the possibility of a 2,000-yard season elicits no response. The only numbers they respond to are final scores.

When the Monarchs meet Iolani at Aloha Stadium on Saturday, the inside track to the ILH's D-II state berth is at stake. But almost as intriguing is the contrast. The offenses will arrive from opposite ends of the galaxy.

"Their speed and quickness are the only ways they can beat us," Williams said. "We gotta have good feet, know the count and execute.

"Just play Monarch football."

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