Akuna gives Kapolei hope against tough Farrington team


POSTED: Saturday, October 24, 2009

It wasn't just a week or month ago that Darren Hernandez saw Shaydon Akuna as a quarterback in Kapolei's hybrid offense.

Go back a full year, and Hernandez was already licking his chops over the prospect of the big safety lining up under center for short-yardage and red-zone situations. Back then, however, Akuna wanted to focus on defense.

This year, with starting quarterback Noah Pascua dinged up with a multitude of nagging leg injuries, Akuna has stepped out of his comfort zone. It was just three weeks ago when the Hurricanes stormed into Mililani and, with Akuna at quarterback, left with a resounding 41-24 win.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound senior isn't necessarily the best player on both sides of the ball, but his strength and speed have transformed the 'Canes into the title contender that coaches and media visualized in early August.

Kapolei will be in do-or-die mode tonight against Farrington. Here's a look at today's light slate:

No. 10 Kapolei vs. No. 3 Farrington, Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium

In yet another repeat of a 2008 quarterfinal matchup, the Hurricanes and Governors are locked in an elimination game. While Kapolei (5-3, 4-2 OIA Red) has battled a rash of injuries and is now peaking during the postseason, Farrington (6-1, 5-1) has been rock solid from the start.

No opponent has scored more than 17 points against the Govs, including the state's No. 1 team, Kahuku—a 16-14 winner over Farrington three weeks ago. Since that win at Mililani, the Hurricanes have been idle, which is just fine with Hernandez.

With Pascua healing up, the 'Cane offense will have different looks that Farrington may not be completely aware of. Kapolei scored at least 21 points in five of the seven games Pascua started, and if his legs are nimble again, his scrambling ability can buy precious time against Farrington's blitz packages.

Akuna offers big-play ability, too, with a strong arm that Hernandez loves. But Akuna's ability to run with power certainly might stir up memories of Mason Koa, who guided Kapolei in a huge upset of Kahuku two years ago.

Even at their best, it might not be enough for the 'Canes. Farrington led the Red East in rushing (197 yards per game) and quarterback Jared Hakuole threw only four picks in six league games. Harry Tuimaseve led the division with 684 rushing yards and scored six touchdowns, while his teammates put a lid on opposing ballcarriers.

Only two teams, Campbell (102 rushing yards) and Kahuku (139), managed to crack the century mark against Farrington. The Red East's second-best rusher, Kailua's Clinton Aina, managed just 39 yards on 11 attempts. The third-best rusher, Kahuku's Viliami Pasi, was bottled up and limited to 46 yards on 22 carries.

Kickoff for this matchup is early, 5 p.m.


Word of Life at No. 2 Kamehameha

Some long shot prognosticators, mostly Saint Louis fans, are hoping for an upset in this Interscholastic League of Honolulu matchup.

Both Saint Louis and Punahou would benefit greatly from a Kamehameha loss, but the Warriors (7-1, 4-1) are unlikely to look past the Firebrands (1-6, 1-5).

Kamehameha got past Word of Life last year by a narrow 6-0 final score. Firebrands running back Awa Poggi is coming off a 203-yard, four-touchdown rushing performance against Damien.