Coaches pick Maui, but repeating will be difficult
By Dennis Anderson
Probably the most stunning upset of the first weekend of high school football in Hawai'i this season was Kaua'i's 21-13 victory over Maui on Maui.
Maui did not lose a game last season until the state tournament and Kaua'i did not win one.
In their unique preseason power rating that determines the Maui Interscholastic League schedule, MIL coaches picked Maui to repeat as island champion.
Lahainaluna, which lost only to Maui last year and was picked to finish second again, was also dumped on opening weekend, losing to Hilo's Waiakea, 13-7. And 1999 champion Baldwin, picked third, lost to Kamehameha, 21-6.
These results have given hope to the other three teams, two of which won their preseason games.
The MIL plays its season in two halves with a playoff for the championship if there are two winners. That could be the case this season.
2000: 6-4-1, 6-3-1 MIL
Coach: Brian Harris, 2nd year, 6-4-1
- DE Kawika Kahui (6-2, 220, Sr.)
- LB Brandon Ahonima (5-11, 207, Sr.)
- WR A.J. Garbin (5-9, 175, Sr.)
- RB/LB Wela Hewahewa (5-9, 168, Sr.)
- NG Kim Oyama (5-9, 260, Sr.)
- DE Jay Uruo (6-1, 245, Sr.)
- MLB/WR Noble Richardson (6-0, 185, Sr.)
- QB Michael Donohoo Jr. (6-0, 160, Jr.)
- RB Michael Silva (5-9, 160, Sr.)
- OL Mark Miyamoto (5-9, 208, Sr.)
- OL Paul Petro (6-0, 250, Jr.)
Outlook: Though the MIL coaches' preseason power rating picked Baldwin third, coach Harris says, "I like our chances of being in the mix with Maui and Lahainaluna for the championship."
Defense will be the Bears strength, with nine of 11 starters returning. "They are athletic and aggressive running to the ball and they will keep us in games," Harris said.
On offense, the Bears "are young up front with a new mix of backs. We need to execute and build confidence and consistency," he said.
Baldwin lost its preseason game to Kamehameha 21-6 at home. "They are the strongest team we may face this year," Harris said.
It's a fact: Three players from the MIL championship team that beat Farrington in the first round of the inaugural state tournament in 1999 are on this year's Baldwin roster.
KING KEKAULIKE NA ALI'I
2000: 3-8, 3-7 MIL
Coach: Dennis Dias, first year
- G Dwain Akiu-Corpuz (Jr.)
- T Lincoln Linkee (Jr.)
(Coach Dias declined to give names because "I don't want to single out anyone.")
Outlook: "We are the mystery team in the league," Dias said. "I promise we'll be competitive. If we can stay in the games and keep the score close, it will depend on how we do in the fourth quarter."
That's what happened Saturday at Pukalani when Na Ali'i won a preseason game for the first time. Daniel Scott, wind at his back, kicked a 47-yard field goal with 10 minutes left to beat Kapa'a of Kaua'i, 3-0.
"Our success really depends on senior leadership," Dias said. King Kekaulike has 11 returning seniors, five of them lettermen, and its varsity roster of 45 is the biggest in the school's five years in the MIL.
Dias was coach of an unbeaten, MIL championship junior varsity team last year.
It's a fact: Dias is the third head coach in Na Ali'i's five-year varsity history. Longtime former Lahainaluna offensive coordinator Derrick Montalvo is his offensive coordinator and Kekaulike's last head coach, P.K. Higa, is defensive coordinator.
2000: 9-2, 8-2 MIL
Coach: Bobby Watson, 10th year.
- QB-FS Kainoa Castro (5-8, 160, Sr.)
- WR-FS Ikaika Neizman (5-8, 160, Jr.)
- RB-DB Jaiome Alboro (5-5, 155, Sr.)
- DB-SB Abner Nakihei (5-10, 165, Sr.)
Outlook: Lost preseason game at Waiakea, 13-7. In a preseason poll, Maui coaches picked the Lunas to repeat their second-place finish, but coach Watson says, "We have a lot to improve on to be competitive."
Lahainaluna has four returning all-leaguers, but, "No individuals will make or break this team," Watson insists. "We've got to get everybody involved and thinking as one."
That needs to happen fairly soon, because perennial contender Baldwin is the Lunas' second MIL opponent.
It's a fact: The Lunas won back-to-back MIL championships in 1997 and '98, their most recent titles.
2000: 10-1-1, 9-0-1 MIL, eliminated in state quarterfinals.
Coach: Curtis Lee, 18th year, 109-48-6
- RB Andrew Malafu (5-10, 227, Sr.)
- OLB Che Ng (5-11, 193, Sr.)
- WR Dustin Cabico (5-9, 148, Sr.)
- DT Ropeti Ale (5-11, 304, Sr.)
- OLB Ikaika Tom Sun (5-9, 177, Sr.)
- FB-DL Elaiuti Lama (5-11, 254, Jr.)
Outlook: The Sabers were picked by Maui coaches to repeat as MIL champions, but lost their preseason game to Kaua'i at home 21-13.
"Our defense is tough enough to keep us in most games, but we need to improve on our passing game," coach Lee said.
Running back Andrew Malafu, the MIL's 2000 Offensive Player of the Year, has gained 22 pounds to 227, but is running behind a young line after most of Maui's veteran offensive linemen were switched to defense during the summer.
If the Sabers overcome youthful mistakes on offense, "we certainly have the potential" to repeat, Lee said.
It's a fact: Lee has won nine MIL championships in 18 seasons and has been chosen Coach of the Year eight times.
ST. ANTHONY TROJANS
2000: 4-7-0, 3-7-0 MIL
Coach: Kevin O'Brien, 3rd year, 7-15
- C-DT David Hall (6-0, 205 Sr.)
- TE Sean Hardesty (6-1, 185, Sr.)
- OL Kevin Ault (6-0, 250, Sr.)
- DE Brad Somera (5-11, 175, Jr.)
- Util/OB Roland Sumabat (5-5, 145, Sr.)
Outlook: The Trojans suited up only 29 players for their preseason game, but defeated Damien, 40-30, on O'ahu.
Numbers will be a problem. "We play big public schools and because of our lack of depth, it's always uphill," coach O'Brien said. "We'll have to get some breaks" to finish higher than the fifth-place rating they were given in the coaches' preseason poll.
St. Anthony's boys track team finished second in the MIL last spring and O'Brien sees team speed as the Trojans' biggest asset. Another asset is 145-pound senior Roland Sumabat, who plays all four offensive backfield positions. "He's one of the toughest kids I've ever met," O'Brien says.
It's a fact: St. Anthony is one of two teams in Hawai'i that uses the single wing offense. The other is Punahou, where former St. Anthony head coach Charlie Ane is offensive coordinator for his son, Kale.