POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Aug 4, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 1:49 a.m. HST, Aug 4, 2013
Lose all-state running backs Tyler Taumua and Abraham "Amo" Silva, plus the entire "Bamboolas" offensive line that paved the way for the dual threats, and it's tough to see how Farrington can match last year's superb season. At 10-3 overall, the Governors reached the state semifinals before losing to eventual state champ Kahuku.
With that in mind, it's unreasonable to expect any team losing 10 offensive starters to keep on rolling along. But that's how it is for those who bleed maroon. The expectation, at least for now, is sky high. Coaches and media voted the Govs fourth in the Star-Advertiser Football Preseason Top 10. As Randall Okimoto enters his 12th season as head coach, the high standard is welcome.
#4 FARRINGTON GOVERNORSPrep Football Countdown Preseason Top 10
* — at Roosevelt
"High expectations are always good. You reach higher. It's a test of character for our players and also for us coaches, as well," Okimoto said.
Farrington also lost five starters on defense to graduation, and with at least eight starters out due to academic probation until the OIA Red East season opener — Aug. 31 at Castle — Okimoto and his staff have no choice but to put a lot of newbies on the field. Talent is there. But experience? Not so much.
"We've gone through cycles before," Okimoto said. "The two years we were in the OIA championship game, we got there with a lot of underclassmen."
In the offensive backfield, Samele Lavatai has made the switch from linebacker. At 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, he's a different style of runner compared to Silva (5-10, 212) and Taumua (5-10, 202). Lavatai will share carries with a potentially prodigious freshman, C.J. Liana. Okimoto can't remember a ninth-grader with as much potential at the position, but Liana follows in the footsteps of brothers Tyler, who graduated last year, and Montana, the starting quarterback.
"He's like (defensive lineman) Breiden (Fehoko), who started his freshman year. Breiden was familiar with our program because his brothers were here. He grew up in the Governor way, so that's what makes him so great," Okimoto said of Liana, who bench presses 240 pounds.
Liana, Fehoko and other Govs were just like those kids — middle-schoolers — who spent sweltering-hot June and July afternoons running the bleachers at the school's swimming pool. It's a "hobby" passed down to younger siblings, not a chore.
"If you start early enough, you will be successful, no matter what program you're in," Okimoto said.
The mystery of a new offensive line won't impede the progress of Montana Liana. As a sophomore, he completed 52 percent of his passes for 955 yards, 11 touchdowns and just five interceptions.
"Last year, we didn't want to put too much on him," said Okimoto, noting that the run-pass ratio was 75-25. "This year, the goal is 60-40. He's able to recognize more things. He went to quarterback camps. He can go to the line and audible here and there."
If the Govs do throw more, Roger Boyd will be a primary target. Boyd, who starts in the secondary, is 5-8 and 155 pounds, a potential playmaker.
Up front, right tackle Mason Semisi (6-3, 270) saw significant playing time last year.
Defensively, Fehoko has evolved physically. He has bulked up to 6-3 and 290, and he's only a junior. He will team up with senior Motu Heimuli (6-2, 270) in the trenches.
Senior Manly Williams, a standout safety last season, will get most of his snaps at linebacker.
"He'll be all over, even at safety at times," Okimoto said of Williams, who has already committed to the University of Hawaii.
Aaron Kesi, son of former Governor left tackle Patrick Kesi, has transferred in from his previous school in Las Vegas. Aaron will play mostly middle or inside linebacker, Okimoto said.
Boyd and senior classmate Jacob Baguio will handle safety and cornerback depending on situations. Baguio, Okimoto added, could see time on offense, too.
At this point, early August, just a few days after teams distributed full pads to players, it's impossible for coaches to gauge their personnel properly. But the Govs have always found a way to compete — and then some. Given a few weeks, say the regular-season opener against Castle in three weeks, and Govs fans may be as optimistic as their head coach.