Leilehua QB Manley refuses to live in pass
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
WAHIAWA — It has been less than two years that Leilehua quarterback Andrew Manley was baptized by fire.
With injuries to two quarterbacks after their first-round playoff win against Castle, the Mules promoted the then sophomore from the junior varsity and thrust him into the middle of the team's postseason run. With skillful guidance from his coaches, Manley helped the Mules win their first state football championship.
The veteran and battle-tested Manley — The Advertiser's reigning state Offensive Co-Player of the Year — has been handed the reins for his senior season.
"He said, 'Coach, are you OK with me calling plays,' " Mules coach Nolan Tokuda said. "I told him I can let you try during spring (workouts) and see how you're doing. He got better and better. When he got back from the camps, he said, 'So can I call plays?' I said, 'Yeah, go ahead.' "
Said Manley: "I've been running this offense for four years now. Last year, I had a real good idea about (the offense). But this year, I know the (defensive schemes, too). I know every little read. This year, I just finalized it."
Manley spent the good part of the offseason trying to improve. Despite leading all Division I quarterbacks in passing yards with 3,642, TDs with 31 and completions with 314 (of course, he attempted the most passes at 507), Manley attended football camps at Colorado, UCLA, Southern California and Washington.
He was a regular at the weekend workouts for quarterbacks from Pop Warner through high school that was run by a number of coaches and led by Saint Louis offensive coordinator Vince Passas. He was invited to the Super Seven Retreat on Maui, where the top college quarterback prospects were drilled under Steve Clarkson, a renown private quarterback tutor.
"You can always improve," Manley said. "I want to keep improving as much as I can."
But the blueprint to get better started even before the camps and clinics. Manley asked his coach for a video copy of each offensive play the team ran in 2008.
"He had it two or three months, just watching it over and over again," Tokuda said.
Manley analyzed plays, seeing where he could have made a better decision.
"He sounds like a guy with the headset upstairs in the press box and telling me what's going on on the field and he's on the field seeing it," Tokuda said. "He's like a coach running plays, except he has the arm to reach and I don't think any other coach besides Darnell Arceneaux (Mililani's coach and former Saint Louis and Utah QB) and Freddy Salanoa (Radford's coach and former Radford and 2001 second-team all-Big Sky selection at Eastern Washington) can make that throw (into coverage that outnumbers receivers)."
It's been a whirlwind summer for Manley, whose only standing Division I offer is from Hawai'i. Manley said other schools have told him they will monitor his progress as the season goes along and that he should send video each week. Attending the college camps gave him some perspective of what he's up against nationally.
"I think the USC camp had the most talent I've seen in my life," he said.
Of course, it was QB heaven at the Super Seven Retreat, where he got tips not just from Clarkson, but from Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Warren Moon, and Heisman Trophy winner and Arizona Cardinal Matt Leinart. While Manley's competitive spirit wanted to show he could stack up with other highly touted prospects, including Montana's son Nick (Westlake Village, Calif.), he relished the camaraderie.
"I wanted to prove to them I was as good as them," Manley said. "I felt like I did that. I felt I was with them with every step. All of us got real close. It wasn't competitive. We're all good friends. We stay in contact with Facebook, text (messaging). It will be great to see what they do with their careers, too."
Manley, who is 6 feet 3 and 220 pounds, said he wants to improve his speed and footwork, as well as accuracy. He said he got a lot of help in those areas from Passas during the weekend workouts that ran from February through early June.
"He changed the way of my release, so I don't drop it back," said the right-handed Manley. "He helped with my footwork, closed my stance when I throw. He helped me out a lot. I owe a lot of credit to him."
Ironically, the way Manley admired his mentors at the Super Seven, younger players at the weekend workouts were just as thrilled training with the All-State quarterback, Passas said.
"He really had brightened up spirits (of the workouts) and had taken the level of play up with the younger guys," Passas said. "For the younger guys to catch a pass from him was like an honor. 'I caught a pass from him today.' He's like an idol. Just his appearance and to work out with the other quarterbacks really elevated everybody else's play. It was nice to see."
Despite all the accolades, Manley has remained humble. Though considered a jokester by Tokuda and teammates, he has taken his share of ribbing from the other players when attention is drawn his way.
"We always tease him, 'It's all about Andrew,' " senior center Bronson Smithe said. "He does not like it. Every time we go, 'Andrew Manley, Andrew Manley.' He doesn't like it when we do it. There's no big head (attitude) from him."
Manley's only vice might be his new Nike ID shoes (http://www.Nikeid.nike.com for those wondering about the custom shoes that start at $110; Manley said he split the $120 cost with his parents.). They bear the school's green and yellow, but the back of each shoe has his jersey number "8." Under the number of the left shoe has "ANDREW," while right has "MANLEY." Of course, his teammates gave him grief for that, too.
"He's one of those so humble kids, he doesn't let that head swell," Tokuda said. "He always comes to practice with a great attitude and how does he get his teammates better and at the same time, how does he get better. He doesn't carry that chip, 'I'm the man here. I'm going to carry this offense.' He's more like, 'We're going to do this together, we're going to work on this today.' He's a pleasure to work with."