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Rare territory

Kahuku's Wily secures his place among Hawaii's all-time rushing leaders

By Nick Abramo

LAST UPDATED: 02:14 a.m. HST, Oct 30, 2012

JAMM Aquino / JAquino@staradvertiser.comKahuku's Aofaga Wily moved into fourth place on the Hawaii high school all-time rushing list with a 190-yard performance against Leilehua.

Aofaga Wily jogged onto the Aloha Stadium turf like he was sauntering into a park for a picnic.

But this was no picnic.

This was fourth and goal from the 1 in the OIA Red football semifinals against Leilehua on Friday night. Score knotted at 7.

It was after a timeout. Big pressure.

No big deal for Wily, who chugged behind the big Kahuku linemen and pushed into the end zone for what turned out to be the winning touchdown.

"All I was thinking was don't give up," Wily said while clutching the game MVP trophy. "Just depend on the people in front of me."

That kind of trust is what the 6-foot, 202-pound running back has given to his blockers in three years of piling up prolific rushing yardage.

The soft-spoken and bright-eyed Wily passed Hawaii icon Mosi Tatupu of Punahou and Saint Louis' Pesafea Fiaseu for fourth all-time in the state in rushing yardage. With Friday's OIA final against Mililani and the state tournament remaining, he sits at 3,717 yards and is aiming to pass Damien's Kama Bailey (3,930) and Kahuku's own Mark Atuaia (4,146) into second place.

Passing ‘Iolani's Joe Igber, No. 1 on the list at 4,428, will be a much harder task.

"Nah!" Wily said emphatically at practice last week, when asked if he thought it was important to pass Atuaia for the school record. "To me, stats don't really mean much. It's about getting the ‘W.' "

He'll be fine looking up to Atuaia and at his stats.

"Mark has been an inspiration and a role model as a running back," Wily said. "He has kept me motivated, and it's great to know that he was one of the best running backs in the state."

Atuaia, who is the assistant athletic director at Brigham Young in Provo, Utah, and a family friend from Laie, has known Wily since he was born.

"There are some similarities between the two of us," Atuaia said in a phone interview. "We both started as sophomores and learned to get all the kinks out of the way then. And both of us have watched the team from the bench in the fourth quarter of (lopsided) games.

"These are great accomplishments for him and I hope he uses this to propel him forward and get a good education."

Wily would love to play college football, but not before going on his two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"He can run at the next level, for sure," Kahuku head coach Reggie Torres said. "He can make an impact at any Division I school."

Hawaii, Arizona, Brigham Young and Washington have been actively recruiting Wily, whose running style Torres likened to former NFL great Marcus Allen.

"He's a smooth runner, so graceful," Torres said. "He glides."

But not everything has been smooth for Wily.

"One time (as an underclassman), we ran a stretch play and I saw the biggest hole I've ever seen. I got so excited and I thought I had a touchdown, but I gribbled (fell) and people were cracking up in the stands."

Another undeniable attribute is Wily's toughness. What other running back carries the ball 41 times in a game? Wily did it for 190 yards in Friday's 14-7 win over Leilehua.

He appeared out of gas in the huddle after rushing attempt No. 38, when the Red Raiders were trying to run out the clock, but he wasn't about to sit.

"No matter what the score is, I keep fighting," said Wily, who likes the smash-mouth game Kahuku plays but has also been clocked at 4.5 in the 40-yard dash. "Even if we were losing 100 to nothing, I would still be pushing. Giving up is not an option. I expect to get the ball and push on."

Torres especially loves Wily's toughness in the clutch.

"On our winning drive (in the OIA quarterfinals against Waianae), he ran it eight times out of the 12 plays," Torres said. "He gets big yards and makes big plays in the playoffs (175 against Waianae; 180 vs. Punahou in the state final a year ago) .

"He's a good athlete with a great work ethic," Torres said. "He's a great person and does great at school. Everything he does, he's great at."

Aofaga's older brothers, Micah and Josh, played for Kahuku's state championship team in 2005, and his younger brother, Salanoa-Alo, is a sophomore running back at Kamehameha.

Aofaga Wily has 41 career touchdowns in 29 games and has averaged 6.3 yards per carry. He helped the Red Raiders to a state title as a junior and is looking to add a second one.

But none of those accomplishments is the most memorable to Wily. Instead, he'll always remember what happened in 2010, when undefeated Kahuku forfeited the OIA title game because of eligibility questions and lost a chance to play in the state tournament.

"My sophomore year was tragic, especially for the seniors," he said. "But it showed everyone around the world how strong our community is. There were boycotts and people went out and found lawyers. What happened to us was bad, but it was a blessing how everyone came together for our North Shore high school. It really showed us how much we all love each other."

  Yrs. G Car. Yards YPC YPG TD
Joe Igber, ‘Iolani 1996-98 30 651 4,428 6.8 147.6 56
Mark Atuaia, Kahuku 1988-90 29 527 4,146 7.9 143.0 51
Kama Bailey, Damien 2005-07 31 540 3,830 7.3 126.7 39
Aofaga Wily, Kahuku 2010-12 29 593 3,717 6.3 128.2 41
Mosi Tatupu, Punahou 1971-73 26 505 3,580 7.1 137.7 36
Pesefea Fiaseu, Saint Louis 1998-00 38 397 3,543 8.9 93.2 51

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allie wrote:
He won't go to the UH. He wants to have media coverage and face better competition. We cannot blame him
on October 30,2012 | 07:19AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
If you read the article, he's going on a Mormon mission for 2 years.
on October 30,2012 | 02:32PM
allie wrote:
on October 30,2012 | 02:48PM
kahuku01 wrote:
When football scholarships are extended to exceptional players, it usually comes from a number of top colleges and the decision made by player and parents are taken very seriously. Media coverage and facing better competition are out of the equation because there are more important issues to be considered. The whole package (contract), winning tradition, facility, coaching staff and education would be considered high on the list for decision making. The blue chip Hawaii players are heading to bigger and better colleges because UH cannot compete with what is offered from the BCS schools. Can't blame them especially when they have several big time colleges to select from.
on October 30,2012 | 04:11PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
I wouldn't blame him if he went to a big name football program much like the way Manti Teo who committed to UH and then went to Notre Dame. Look at him now, he's on the number three football team in the nation. UH has at least three years to go just to be even a respectable program. Notre Dame took three years to rebuild. UH will definitely take at least that amount of time to get to their goal. And that is without blue chip players that Notre Dame attracts. Sad to say but Hawaii always gets the shaft when it comes to its local talent. That's just the way it is. We can only hope for UH to be the best that it can be. Hopefully we can get some of our own talents who may decide to stay home to be with family.
on October 30,2012 | 10:21AM
allie wrote:
exactly...Teo was no fool
on October 30,2012 | 12:40PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Where would Teo be if he was at UH as a senior this year? Mariota as a sophomore? No I think the UH program has gone on the skids and any bonified star should go away...
on October 30,2012 | 02:35PM
allie wrote:
agreed..the Boss knows his stuff!
on October 30,2012 | 02:48PM
Anonymous wrote:
If he wants to see Stevie Wonder, no sense stay home!
on October 30,2012 | 03:02PM
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