Manley has Kapolei's number


POSTED: Sunday, September 13, 2009

The one play that made the biggest difference in Leilehua's 14-10 comeback win at Kapolei on Friday was spelled out long before kickoff.

On fourth and 3 at midfield in the fourth quarter and trailing 10-7, Leilehua called “;70 K-P-O”;—an abbreviation for Kapolei?—in which quarterback Andrew Manley set up in the shotgun. He rolled hard to the right behind fullback Austin Schmidt.

The call caught Kapolei off guard. With tight coverage on receiver Kamana Akagi, who ran a fly route, Manley fired a rocket toward his target's outside shoulder.

Kapolei cornerback Aaron Thomas had a good angle for an inside pass, but Manley's accuracy on the move made it possible for only Akagi to see the ball, let alone touch it. Akagi pulled it in at about the 30-yard line and sprinted to the pylon. He beat two more defenders to the end zone and gave the Mules the lead for good with 7:47 left.

“;They kept jumping on us,”; said Manley, who finished with 286 passing yards (25-for-38) with two scores and a pick. “;(The play) happened to work today.”;






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Coach Nolan Tokuda had called that play in a playoff game against Kahuku last year. Akagi was the target two seasons ago when the Mules called it against Saint Louis in the state final. This time, the play was a winner in a key midseason game.

Manley threw to nine receivers, seven of whom made catches. Akagi (5-foot-9, 170) was targeted 17 times and finished with 11 grabs for 177 yards, both season highs.

It turned out to be a heartbreaker for Kapolei. It was also a silencer, cooling down a crowd of about 3,000 just 2 minutes and 4 seconds after the Hurricanes had seized a 10-7 lead.

On paper, most of the numbers were good for the Hurricanes. Linebacker Tuu Lolohea (6-2, 225) led the 'Canes defense with two sacks and safety Shaydon Akuna (6-3, 215) had a pick in his return from injuries. The offense had 159 yards rushing on 36 carries and only 45 yards in penalties. However, six of the seven penalties were of the 5-yard variety, causing the offense to sputter and stall. The 'Canes fumbled once in the red zone and quarterback Noah Pascua was picked off twice.

Tokuda praised his defensive unit.

“;Our defense, to the day I die, coach Mark (Kurisu) will be my defensive coordinator,”; he said.

Anchored by Charlie Tuaau (6-4, 290) and Frazer Taua (6-2, 250), the Mules gave Pascua (8-for-16, 76 yards) enough pressure and had him on the move most of the night.

“;We just played hard. We made mistakes,”; Tuaau said. “;Minor mistakes.”;

Manley also faced a fierce pass rush. Roughly half of Leilehua's 15 rushing attempts came in the final minutes while protecting the lead. Other than that, the Mules dared Kapolei's front seven to attack their shotgun trip sets.

Manley's footwork and mobility within the pocket were key factors, maybe the most important, in keeping Leilehua's offense efficient. He hit 13 of his last 15 attempts, including seven in a row.

Last week's bye certainly helped his timing with the young receiver corps, which didn't drop a pass. Though they had just 14 points, Leilehua moved the chains often enough to offset some poor field position and 95 yards in yellow flags.

At 1-1 in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West (2-2 overall), the Mules increased their chances of a playoff berth and possibly a first-round bye. Kapolei (2-3, 1-2) has a weapon in place-kicker Eric Morales, who has a high arc and 50-yard range and sends kickoffs to the end zone. The 'Canes will be buoyed by the recent return of players from injuries.

For now, though, Leilehua was just one play better.

“;It's a great win. We needed that,”; Manley said. “;We played as a family.”;