Warriors,Saints favored again
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
It takes more than just a coaching change at Saint Louis School to unseat the Crusaders as Interscholastic League of Honolulu football champion.
Wes Nakama The Honolulu Advertiser
B.J. Batts returns for his senior year at Saint Louis.
Wes Nakama The Honolulu Advertiser
That is why Kamehameha coach Kanani Souza quickly dismisses any talk about a dropoff by the Saints after a late coaching change put Darnell Arceneaux a 25-year-old with no previous coaching experience in charge of the national power on June 24.
"I saw them against Kaiser (a 34-12 victory on Aug. 22) and the only thing different was it looked like their coaches were wearing new shirts," Souza said. "It looked like tweed shirts or something. But as far as the team they still had the athletes, they still had the size and they still played physical. Everything looked the same."
The surprise appointment of Arceneaux and subsequent departure of much of Lee's and Tengan's staff did raise immediate questions around the league and somehow thrust Kamehameha into the role of favorite, which Souza also quickly dismisses.
"I don't know what people are basing that on," Souza said. "This team has the least amount of experience of any since I've been here (1996). We have only four returning starters."
Still, like most of the past decade, any talk of ILH contenders this season, which opens this weekend, begins with Saint Louis and Kamehameha.
It's true that Arceneaux's transition may be tougher than Tengan's with a mostly new staff and all but it can't hurt when the 2002 Advertiser State Offensive Player of the Year, senior running back B.J. Batts, returns to your backfield.
Batts, at 5 feet 6, 170 pounds, is a darting all-purpose runner who rushed for 981 yards and 16 touchdowns on 135 carries, made 16 receptions for 132 yards and had eight kickoff returns for 343 yards and two TDs. But Arceneaux said Batts won't have to carry the offense by himself.
"People will be surprised," Arceneaux said. "We've got a lot of weapons."
Kamehameha, despite having many new starters, also has plenty of athletic playmakers. Senior running back Travis Beyer led the team in rushing (349 yards) last season and also was the state 100-meter sprint champion in May.
Junior receiver Waika Spencer is a big target (6-3, 210) who also has track speed (third in state long jump, 21 feet, 6 inches).
Defensive back Tamatoa Silva took seventh in the state 100 meters. And the list goes on and on, as the Warriors had a fall turnout of 114 players.
"They've got the horses," Iolani coach Wendell Look said.
The ILH's third Division I team, Punahou, is not expected to be just a spectator in the title chase. The Buffanblu lost its non-league opener to Kailua, 22-7, but impressed Souza and Look in that game.
"It wasn't as bad as the score," Look said. "They moved the ball, and their defense was very active."
Buffanblu quarterback John Morris passed for 226 yards against Kailua, despite receiver Koa Duncan missing the game because of injury. Junior running back Micah Strickland could prove to be one of the league's best all-around players.
"I think they'll be contending with us and Saint Louis," Souza said. "Nobody's going to just hand it to us. It'll be tough every week. But spectator-wise, it should be great."
Reach Wes Nakama at email@example.com or 535-2456
COACH: Kanani Souza, eighth season (82-60-1)
DL/LB Chaz Barit (5-11, 215, Jr.)
RB/DB Travis Beyer (5-7, 170, Sr.)
OL Brennan Carvalho (6-1, 275, Sr.)
WR Matt Coelho (5-10, 170, Sr.)
LB Travis Correa (5-9, 190, Sr.)
RB Sy Cullen (5-7, 175, Sr.)
OL Ian Estrada (5-10, 265, Jr.)
OL Elwen Freitas (6-2, 285, Sr.)
LB Kepa Gaison (6-1, 245, Jr.)
CB Guyton Galdeira (5-8, 160, Sr.)
WR James Hardy (5-10, 165, Sr.)
DB Mike Holt (5-9, 150, Jr.)
DE Jon Jay (6-2, 220, Jr.)
LB/DE Keola Kaluhiokalani (6-1, 235, Sr.)
QB Pono Kam (5-11, 170, Jr.)
DL Mika Kane (6-2, 280, Jr.)
LB Mana Lolotai (6-0, 205, So.)
DL Bryson Mauga (5-10, 240, Sr.)
LB Asti Merino (5-10, 194, Sr.)
DL Nainoa Nu'uhiwa (6-2, 230, Sr.)
LB Sam Ramos (5-8, 190, Sr.)
DB Tamatoa Silva (6-2, 185, Sr.)
OL Kahawai Soon (6-1, 185, Jr.)
WR Waika Spencer (6-3, 210, Jr.)
De Kaiana Tirrell (6-0, 200, Sr.)
DB Travis Uale (6-1, 166, Jr.)
LB Gerritt Vincent (5-7, 180, So.)
OL/TE Kawika Vincent (6-3, 260, Sr.)
OL Tyler Williams (6-2, 275, Jr.).
Outlook: The Warriors had 114 players in fall camp, but only four are returning starters. Three of those returning starters are on offense running back Travis Beyer and offensive linemen Brennan Carvalho and Elwen Freitas. Quarterback Pono Kam was involved in a tight race for the starting job with fellow junior Parker Bode, until Bode's injury made Kam the undisputed starter. "But both those guys had very minimal game experience," coach Kanani Souza said. "Pono's coming along, and he's got ability so we feel in time he'll be a good one." Junior receiver Waika Spencer (6-3, 210) has the height and hands to catch high passes, the size to break tackles and the speed to outrun defenders. Matt Coelho and James Hardy are the other key receivers. "We need them to make plays," Souza said. Beyer missed the 41-0 nonleague victory over Kealakehe with an injury, but Sy Cullen stepped in and the Warriors' running game did not miss a beat. Beyer is back healthy now. Carvalho and Freitas will anchor the line, along with Ian Estrada and Kahawai Soon. On defense, weak inside linebacker Asti Merino is the lone returning starter. "He'll have to carry the load," Souza said. "We'll count on his leadership and his ability to make big plays." Souza said junior Mika Kane has a bright future on the defensive line, and he's hoping sophomore linebackers Mana Lolotai and Gerritt Vincent also grow into their roles quickly. Beyer will play both ways and help in the secondary, where Tamatoa Silva also has some experience and 100-meter track speed.
COACH: Kale Ane, fifth season (21-22)
DB Jay Angotti (5-9, 165, So.)
LB Josh Balete (5-8, 190, Sr.)
DE R.J. Brown (6-1, 221, Sr.)
WR/DB Koa Duncan (6-0, 175, Sr.)
WR Cameron Grace (6-1, 180, Sr.)
OLB Derek Hinkley (5-11, 180, Sr.)
OL/DL Trask Iosefa (6-1, 275, Jr.)
OL Cody Kekipi (5-11, 250, So.)
LB Robby Miller (5-9, 180, Sr.)
QB John Morris (5-10, 170, Sr.)
DL Tysan Pa'aga (6-0, 205, Jr.)
S Chris Shiramizu (5-10, 170, Sr.)
RB Micah Strickland (5-11, 190, Jr.)
OL Travis Tamura (5-11, 200, Sr.)
WR/DB Reyn Wicklund (5-7, 160, Sr.)
Outlook: The Buffanblu had a rough preseason test against Kailua, and although the result was a 22-7 defeat, they rebounded to beat Kaua'i, 32-7. "I think there's been great progression," coach Kale Ane said. "We saw what we did wrong and what we needed to work on." Although Kailua held Punahou to one touchdown, the Buffanblu did move the ball and quarterback John Morris finished with 226 yards passing. Receiver Cameron Grace showed good hands, and even running back Micah Strickland contributed with 10 catches. Strickland is big and fast and displayed good open-field running, scoring on an 85-yard catch-and-run touchdown. "We'll try to get him some space and create some mismatches," Ane said. Strickland has spent most of his career as a receiver. "I have to remind myself sometimes that this is his first time playing running back. Not everything is instinct for him just yet." Punahou also was missing receiver Koa Duncan in that game, but now he is back as another threat. The line will be anchored by Travis Tamura, Trask Iosefa and Cody Kekipi. Defensively, the Buffanblu showed an active pass rush against Kailua and some good lateral movement by the linebackers. "We've got a lot of good, physical guys there," Ane said. "They're quick and aggressive, so they can just read, react and go." Robby Miller, Josh Balete and Derek Hinkley will lead that unit. R.J. Brown and Tysan Pa'aga are the leaders on the defensive line. The secondary suffered a big blow in the summer when returning starter Shon Morishige tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee during a club soccer game. He is out for the season. Cornerback Chris Shiramizu also missed the Kailua game due to injury, but he is back healthy. Jay Angotti also is a leader in the backfield, and Reyn Wicklund may see action both ways as a receiver and defensive back.
Saint Louis Crusaders
COACH: Darnell Arceneaux, first season
DL Tyson Alualu (6-0, 271, Jr.)
RB B.J. Batts (5-6, 170, Sr.)
OL Bronson Carvalho (6-2, 310, Sr.)
WR Desmond Hanohano (6-5, 220, Sr.)
SB Shaun Kauleinamoku (5-6, 156, Sr.)
WR Maka'ala Kuewa (5-7, 180, Sr.)
DL Fale Laeli (6-1, 294, Sr.)
OL Makana Mardonada (6-1, 300, Sr.)
DB Keao Monteilh (5-9, 162, Sr.)
LB Dylan Moss (5-9, 221, Sr.)
DB Tane Nahalea (5-8, 171, Jr.)
QB Stanley Nihipali (5-10, 163, Jr.)
QB Keali'i Perbera (5-7, 189, Sr.)
OL Jordan Rogers (5-11, 261, Sr.)
K/P C.J. Santiago (6-2, 215, Sr.)
Dl Tavita Thompson (6-5, 267, Sr.)
DL Arthur Tupuola (6-2, 276, Sr.)
DB Pono Vierra (5-7, 173, Sr.)
LB Chester Wilson (5-8, 221, Jr.)
Outlook: The Crusaders did not suffer from a dropoff in turnout during the coaching transition, as 91 players dot the roster. The question of starting quarterback will not be settled at least until the first series on Saturday against Kamehameha. Coach Darnell Arceneaux said the race is between last year's backup, junior Stanley Nihipali, and senior Keali'i Perbera. "Each is better than the other in some ways," Arceneaux said. "They both are competitors, and they both are capable of getting the job done." Whoever it is, he will have the luxury of getting the ball to running back B.J. Batts, the 2002 Advertiser State Offensive Player of the Year. "B.J. can take a five-yard play and turn it into a really big play," Arceneaux said. "That's what we're trying to tell everybody to do: Make a big deal out of even a five-yard out, because that in turn can make it into a big play." Desmond Hanohano (6-5, 220) provides a big target at receiver, where Shaun Kauleinamoku and Maka'ala Kuewa also will play big roles. Makana Mardonada (left guard) and Jordan Rogers will anchor the offensive line. Defensively, Saint Louis returns a top defensive lineman in Tavita Thompson, a premier linebacker in Dylan Moss and an experienced defensive back in Keao Monteilh. Thompson will be joined on the line by Tyson Alualu, Arthur Tupuola and Fale Laeli. Monteilh had three interceptions in the ILH playoff game against Kamehameha last season. Arceneaux said defensive coordinator Eddie Klaneski has put in a system that should have the effectiveness of former coaches Cal Lee and Delbert Tengan. "Eddie has a great system and he's a great motivator," Arceneaux said. "Everybody will be running to the ball aggressively." Arceneaux said overall the Crusaders have the potential to maintain their championship ways. "We're confident at all of our positions," he said. "We just have to execute. That's the biggest thing."