He was and still is, at heart, a Kalani Falcon.
Marcus Mariota strolled the vast field at Kahala Park on many a Saturday in the fall. Whether it was out of nostalgia or a sense of support for his former Pop Warner squad, he would take it all in with a few current and former teammates.
Somewhere between the grass drills at Kahala and intricate lab work with the quarterbacking brain trust at Kalaepohaku, Mariota developed into a prize recruit for one of the nation’s top college football teams.
Just on performance alone, the Saint Louis signal-caller did more than enough to wow coaches and media, earning Star-Advertiser All-State offensive player of the year honors.
Mariota had more than double the votes of Mililani’s prolific playmaker, Trent McKinney. Kaimuki ironman Chester Su’a, Leilehua wide receiver Fred Padrones and Waianae quarterback Puletua Wilson also received votes.
In voting results that were nearly as lopsided, his teammate, Juda Parker, dominated the defensive player of the year. Parker received first-place votes from more than 70 percent of the panel.
"I’m just very humbled and blessed by the coaches’ selection. I’m taken aback," Parker said. "It goes to show, if you put in hard work and dedication, it can definitely pay off."
In some core, fundamental ways, Parker was and still is a Firebrand. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive end was an ironman performer at Word of Life, but when the high school shut down in the offseason, Parker was a gifted student-athlete without a place to call home.
He and teammate Paulay Asiata were adopted by the ohana at Kalaepohaku and continued to thrive. Parker finished with a team-high 64.5 tackles, 16 sacks and two forced fumbles.
The two were classic leaders for their team, more by action than words. Mariota’s cerebral approach was molded by quarterbacks guru Vinnie Passas and head coach Darnell Arceneaux.
Mariota, at 6-4 (6-3 and 5/8ths, to be exact) and 190 pounds, isn’t just the tallest of quarterbacks from a program the churns out storied passers.
He may just be the best. With a bazooka of an arm — he coiled 70-yard bombs at practice as a sophomore, former receiver Billy Ray Stutzmann (UH) once said — and an intricate understanding of the pass rush, Mariota posted numbers that Crusaders fanatics and efficient program coders can love:
» 165 completions in 252 attempts (65.4 percent)
» 32 touchdown tosses with only five interceptions
» a passer rating of 189.98, easily the highest of any starting quarterback in several seasons
The final nail for many defensive coordinators, though, was dealing with Mariota’s speed, especially after Arceneaux returned to his alma mater. With an emphasis on multiple looks and a keen appreciation for Oregon’s version of the flex option, Arceneaux — once a shifty ballcarrier in his day — employed Mariota’s stunning acceleration and speed. Mariota, who posted 40-yard sprint times from 4.5 seconds down to 4.33 at the PIAA combine in May, rushed for 455 yards on just 60 carries (8.6 per carry) with seven touchdowns.
That was just enough to keep defenses off balance. Oregon knew about his multiple skills in the offseason and offered him a scholarship. Mariota was one of the earlier verbal commits, even before he had started a varsity game.
The humility that made him a willing apprentice hasn’t changed, not even with a state championship.
"Learning from a guy like Jeremy (Higgins) was actually good for me. He ran the offense well. Taking what he saw and what I saw, seeing different views and putting it all together helped me a lot," Mariota said. "I learned to get the ball out a lot quicker and allow these guys to make plays."
He is also the unofficial team tutor, according to Passas. Mariota has a 4.15 grade-point average.
"He has the accuracy of Jason Gesser. Has the coolness of Timmy Chang. Has the competitive spirit of Darnell Arceneaux," said Passas, who coached these passers. "So he’s all of those guys built into one guy, and that’s Marcus. He’s faster than all of them. He’s smarter than all of them. So if we’re choosing sides and I have the first pick, Marcus would be the first pick. Don’t tell Darnell that."
Coach of the year honors went to Arceneaux, who left Mililani and came back to the Crusaders for a second stint. In his first try, back in 2003, he guided the team to the state final only to lose 27-26 to Kahuku. This time, the Crusaders went 11-1, with a 42-28 win over Leilehua and a 36-13 victory over Waianae in the state tournament.
Clint Onigama (Kaimuki), Daniel Matsumoto (Waianae), Rod York (Mililani), Wendell Look (‘Iolani), Reggie Torres (Kahuku) and Nolan Tokuda also received votes.
The future for Mariota is practically set, with his commitment to Oregon. Parker was an early commit to Tennessee, but has opened his options. He visited UH last weekend and will tour Oregon State in early January.
Mariota will participate in the NUC All-World Gridiron Classic in Columbia, S.C., on Friday.
Parker will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Jan. 8.
|QB||Marcus Mariota||Saint Louis||6-4||190||Sr.|
|REC||Duke Bukoski||Saint Louis||6-2||190||Sr.|
|OL||Paulay Asiata||Saint Louis||6-5||300||Sr.|
|DE||Juda Parker||Saint Louis||6-4||245||Sr.|
|LB||Starr Sua-Passi||Saint Louis||6-1||220||Sr.|
|CB||Walter Santiago Jr.||Kamehameha||5-11||185||Sr.|
|OL||Afi Greig||Saint Louis||6-0||245||Jr.|
|DT||Na’Alii Robins||Saint Louis||6-3||245||Sr.|
|DE||Kalei Auelua||Saint Louis||6-4||230||Jr.|
|S||Cyrus Coen||Pearl City||6-0||205||Sr.|
|REC||Joshua Tupua||Saint Louis||5-10||190||Sr.|
|OL||Shane Brostek||Hawaii Prep||6-3||300||Jr.|
|OL||Houston Clemente||Saint Louis||6-5||275||Sr.|
|U||Ray Cooper||Pearl City||5-8||175||Sr.|
|CB||Leland Gomez||Saint Louis||5-9||175||Sr.|
|S||Kalei Contrades||Saint Louis||5-10||185||Sr.|
» Quarterbacks: Kenan Sadanaga (Leilehua), Evan Moe (Kahuku), Jaymason Lee (Castle), Reece Foy (‘Iolani), Kahaku Iaea (Kailua).
» Receivers: Mason Kualii-Moe (Kaimuki), Diacorri Briscoe (Pearl City), Nainoa Frank (Kalaheo), Joshua Kong (Castle), Charley Bollig IV (Kamehameha), Shairone Thompson (Kahuku), Jeremiah Andrade (Leilehua), Keano Kuia (Kalani), Josiah Sukumaran (‘Iolani), Tavon Pegues (Kamehameha-Hawaii).
» Offensive linemen: Tiras Koon (‘Iolani), Maika Moala (Kaimuki), C.J. Hoohuli (Kamehameha-Hawaii), Tupe Taito (Waipahu), Kalawaia Jenkins (Leilehua), Toa Fonoimoana (Kalaheo), T.J. Faimealelei (Kaimuki), Jared Serrao (Mililani), Hawk Hanoa (Kamehameha-Hawaii), Landon Freitas (Mililani), Charles Sataraka (Farrington), Hayden Wills (Kamehameha), Aukai Monroe (Punahou), Mitchell Boyd (Farrington), Samson Kaleikini (Kapolei), Tuafale Faatoafe (Aiea), Aaron Tufono (Kaiser), Faaesea Lakatani (Castle), Jason Malaga (McKinley), Kelii Copp (Saint Louis), Davin Viernes (Campbell), Christian Salvador-Aspera (Aiea), Chris Nakata (Roosevelt), Kapua Awong (Kapolei), Colsen Chun-Ming (Kaiser), Keeyan Nakatsu (Kamehameha), Zachary Mauga (Aiea), Christopher Finau (Castle).
» Running backs: Josh Gonda (Kaiser), Jaylen Mitchell (Waianae), Tyrone Brown (Kahuku), Charles Spencer (Moanalua), Isaiah Adams (Hawaii Prep), Fonoivasa Mata’afa (Kahuku), Phil Hogan (Moanalua), Bryson Panui (Waianae), Ammon Baldomero (‘Iolani), Scotland Smith (Farrington), Jostin Carbajal (Lahainaluna), Jun Cho (Kalani), Darius Anderson (Pac-Five), Darren Acoba (Kauai), Waika Alapai (Kapaa), Keanu Mook-Garcia (Saint Louis), Keaka Fernandez (Kapolei).
» Defensive tackles: Siosiua Uhatafe (Kaimuki), Taitus Failaunga (Pac-Five), Jordan Tanioka (Moanalua), Punahele McShane (Roosevelt), Apoga Siafagaloa (Waianae), Isaiah Thompson (Campbell), Jordan Luamanuvae (Kaiser), Lopeti Fonokalafi (Kaiser), Alapati Noga (Aiea), Pasoni Tasini (Baldwin), John Vave (Kailua), Maika Moala (Kaimuki).
Defensive Ends: Keanu Foki (Farrington), Semo Sila (Farrington), Colby Cabatu (Kamehameha-Hawaii), Addison Kogami (‘Iolani), Lopisoni Mailei (Campbell), Samson Maeva (Aiea), Josh Simmons (Kapolei), Matai Tuaato (Leilehua), Seth-Jonah Keolanui (Kaiser), Ethan Mahaulu (Kailua), Chevrolet Mikaele (Kailua), Penitito Melei (Leilehua), Peter Ulu-Fano (Waianae), Aubrey Seui (Radford).
» Linebackers: Charles Tauaefa (Farrington), Krix Hugley (Radford), Benetton Fonua (Kahuku), Taylor Cruz (Kamehameha-Hawaii), Mitchell Loewen (Lahainaluna), Cilvin Steward (Mililani), Martin Taulelei (Moanalua), Austyn Flores (Damien), Stockton Crowley (Leilehua), Isaiah Neves (Roosevelt), Rudi Galapia (Waialua), Branden Abiva (Aiea).
» Cornerbacks: Keoni Wong (Kamehameha-Hawaii), Reyn Clarke (Kamehameha-Hawaii), Justice Sarcedo (Kaimuki), Moses Alimoot (Castle), Nicholas Motellang (Kaimuki), Joel Talaro (Moanalua), Jordan Mendiola (Pearl City), Taylor Taliulu (Aiea), Joshua Torres (Campbell), Reyn Sugai (Pac-Five), Shayvis Wilson (Damien).
» Safeties: Dorsey Norris (Radford), Ashton McKay (Roosevelt), Tevita Baravilala (Radford), Leo Kozlowski (Kamehameha-Hawaii), Keahi Hogan (‘Iolani), Anthony Lockett (Moanalua), Alex Ironside (McKinley), Matthew Mendiola (Aiea), Mahuka Cullen (Anuenue).
» Utility: T.J. Reid (Radford), Agaese Tago (Roosevelt), James Wilson (Waianae).
» Place-kickers: Jesse Correa (Saint Louis), Aaron Goo (Saint Louis), Max Goode (Kapaa), Eric Lum (Kailua), Lee Arakawa (Moanalua), Shea Shimabukuro (Kauai), Kamalei Rosa (Waialua).
» Punters: Jordan Lee (‘Iolani), Brendan Sagucio (Pac-Five), Chucky Kaahanui (Aiea).
Returners: Kaeo Aliviado (Saint Louis), Chester Su’a (Kaimuki), Ikaika Gante (Anuenue), Jaylen Mitchell (Waianae), Agaese Tago (Roosevelt).