Top accolades earned by Kauwalu, Mamiya
|Video: Mamiya, Kauwalu named All-State Football Players of the Year|
|||Kahuku's Torres tabbed Coach of the Year|
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
There might have been better passers and better runners at quarterback in the state, but none combined both skills like Saint Louis junior Micah Mamiya.
But when it comes to defense, there was no match for Wai'anae senior linebacker George Kauwalu.
Mamiya and Kauwalu lead the 2006 Advertiser All-State Football Team as our Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively.
More than 20 coaches state-wide were asked to rank players by positions. Independent sources also were consulted. The combined assessments helped decide the selections.
The 5-foot-7, 150-pound Mamiya mastered the Crusaders' hybrid offense, which combined elements of the run-and-shoot and option. He passed for 1,569 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 524 yards and nine TDs. He accounted for nearly half of the team's 43 TDs. That made him a double-threat to opponents.
"You can't defend him one way," 'Iolani coach Wendell Look said. "The offense they run fits him. He can run and make the big throws. He's not one-dimensional. The offense they run is suited to his talents."
Mamiya had guided the Crusaders to 11 consecutive wins. The right-hander fractured his left collarbone after getting tackled during the state semifinals in a 10-7 win against Wai'anae. While backup and fellow classmate Tamatoa DeMello performed admirably in his absence, the experience of 11 games Mamiya had certainly would have helped Saint Louis in a 7-6 loss to Kahuku in the state championship game.
"If you try to put into perspective what Micah meant to our offense, it is like asking (Hawai'i coach) June Jones what would it be like if (UH quarterback) Colt Brennan got hurt," Saint Louis coach Delbert Tengan said. "It's the same thing."
Mamiya said he hopes his collarbone heals in time for baseball season. He is a center fielder.
Joining Mamiya on the first team are senior running backs Jordan Torres of Mililani and Gabe Tuata of Big Island Division I champion Kealakehe.
Torres rushed for 1,522 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught seven passes for 96 yards and two more TDs. He also spent time on defense, playing safety.
Tuata tallied 1,869 yards and 25 touchdowns on 122 carries this past season, according to the Hawai'i Tribune-Herald. His least productive game was against Wai'anae in the opening round of the Division I State tournament, when he was held to 29 yards rushing (and 50 receiving). Still, Wai'anae coach Danny Matsumoto said Tuata was the best running back his team faced this season. Tuata would spin out of initial hits, but only because the Seariders' defense was able to swarm the running back, he wasn't able to break free for long gains that he might have enjoyed against other opponents.
Even Kauwalu said Tuata was the toughest runner he had to tackle this season. Tuata actually knocked down Kauwalu on one play, the linebacker said.
The receivers picked are Punahou senior Miah Ostrowski, a repeat selection from last year, and Baldwin junior Chase Nakamura.
The 5-9, 170-pound Ostrowski led the state with 81 receptions and 1,313 yards. He also had 10 TD catches. Nakamura had 62 receptions for 1,185 yards and a state-leading 20 TD catches. The two were the only players in the state to break 1,000 in receiving yardage.
The tight end is Moanalua senior Savai'i Eselu, who had 13 catches for 199 yards and two touchdowns. In Na Menehune's offense, he also was needed for his blocking skills. He also saw action on the defensive line. He recently gave a verbal commitment to California.
The offensive linemen selected are: Damien senior Sione Tau (6-6, 280), Kahuku junior Benji Kemoeatu (6-3, 315), Wai'anae senior Travis Nua (6-2, 270), Baldwin senior Kealakai Maiava (6-1, 285) and Saint Louis senior Ana Tuiasosopo (5-10, 304).
Although Nua was an honorable mention selection in the O'ahu Interscholastic Association West all-stars, he received strong support among the coaches who ranked the players. Maiava also got support among the coaches, especially those not from Maui, obviously making an impression in his two state tournament games.
Tau has verbally committed to Arizona. Kemoeatu has two brothers in the NFL; Ma'ake is a defensive lineman for the Carolina Panthers and Chris is an offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tuiasosopo's father, Ana, played for Hawai'i from 1983 to 1985.
The 6-foot, 210-pound Kauwalu is what a lexicographer had in mind when defining a linebacker. He was in many a backfield just as running backs took handoffs from the quarterback. He seemingly was never blocked and always around the ball.
"The thing I noticed is he has good football senses," Tengan said. "He has a nose for the ball. He reminds me of Pisa Tinoisamoa (former UH linebacker with the St. Louis Rams). He's athletic and relentless from sideline to sideline. He had all the attributes of a great linebacker."
"He reminds me of (Chris) Paogofie," Look said. "(Kauwalu's) the real deal."
Paogofie, a Wai'anae safety, was The Advertiser's 1995 Defensive Player of the Year known for his bone-crunching hits.
"I like his ability to seek and destroy," Waialua coach Lincoln Barit said.
Wai'anae defensive coordinator Jason Hussey said Kauwalu was always interactive during defensive team meetings and picked up schemes very well. He said he stays in touch with Kauwalu on a weekly basis during the offseason.
"He's very humble and very likeable," Hussey said. "The kids from Pop Warner look up to him."
Also selected at first-team linebackers are Saint Louis' Jacob Barit (6-2, 215) and Kahuku Siaosi Tafuna (5-11, 210), both seniors.
The front four includes repeat pick Kahuku senior Kaniela Tuipulotu (6-2, 290). He is joined by Saint Louis seniors Scott Smith (6-7, 245) and Solomona Aigamaua (6-3, 205) and Farrington senior Sam Fehoko (6-1, 230).
The defensive backs picked are Kamehameha seniors Brandon Hardin (6-2, 175) and Andrew Godinet (5-8, 170), Kahuku senior Gary Nagy (6-2, 180) and Kahuku junior Shiloah Te'o (5-11, 190).
The kicker is Saint Louis senior Kenton Chun, who shared the state lead among kicking specialists with 64 points from 37 PATs and nine field goals. Kauwalu also was selected as punter.
The all-purpose players played offense and defense, as well as on special teams. A repeat pick is 'Aiea senior Lofa Li'ili'i (5-11, 170), who is joined by Castle senior Corey Paredes (5-11, 200), Kekaulike senior Shannon Kamakaokalani (5-4, 140) and Farrington senior Elijah Lesu (5-10, 180).
Li'ili'i not only played two ways and on special teams, but played multiple positions on offense. He was pressed into action as a quarterback when injuries affected Na Ali'i's first two QBs. Li'ili'i missed two games himself with injuries, but still played an integral role for his team. He had 43 catches for 536 yards and four TDs, as well as 170 yards rushing.
Paredes had 32 receptions for 412 yards and three TDs and was a steady performer at linebacker. He also punted later in the season.
Kamakaokalani, a running back, rushed for 1,381 yards and 20 TDs. He also shined on special teams, kicking 19 PATs, scoring three times on 2-point conversions and kicked the team's only field goal. He led the state with 154 points. He also played defensive back and returned kicks and punts.
Lesu, a receiver, led Farrington with 43 catches for 713 yards and nine TDs. He also played cornerback and safety on defense, as well as returned kicks and punts.
Wai'anae linebacker, Saint Louis quarterback lead Advertiser selections
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at email@example.com.