Days before their first 11-on-11 scrimmage, Farrington Governor football coach Randall Okimoto remained true to one code: The less said, the better.
With the departure of 16 starters to graduation, Okimoto is loathe to lay out any individual expectations. This fall’s team may feature more team speed defensively, possibly more mobility by the offensive line, and a lot of ball-control, security-first game-planning with new starters at quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
“Our team is nowhere near where we should be, but the good thing is we are moving forward every day,” Okimoto said on Sunday.
PREP FOOTBALL TOP 10 PRESEASON COUNTDOWN
>> No. 10 ‘Iolani
>> No. 9 Campbell
>> No. 8 Farrington
>> No. 7 to be featured on Friday
The Govs, grinding away at 6 a.m. practices, have some new wrinkles at the line of scrimmage thanks to the implementation of some spread-formation sets. That plays to the strengths of defensive back-turned-quarterback Stephen Eter and former JV slinger Chris Afe. Eter’s mobility will help, and like Afe, he can line up wide and in the slot. Afe is a physically imposing sight in the shotgun, a 6-foot-2, 240-pound junior with fairly surprising command of the playbook this early in preseason.
The offensive line has experience with Logan Faitau and Sale Collins leading the unit up front. The rest of the offense is loaded with mystery and question marks. Kingston Moses-Sanchez and Mosi Afe were highly productive as receivers last season, taking much of the pressure off all-state running back Challen Faamatau, and quarterbacks Justin Uahinui and Bishop Rapoza. The numbers produced by Faamatau may never be matched again: 4,282 total yards and 53 touchdowns. Farrington’s top three rushers and top six pass catchers got their diplomas.
“It does feel like we are starting from scratch, which is a good thing,” Okimoto said. “The speed at which we improve this season will depend on the work we put in as a team.”
Senior fullback Blessing Umaga has complete faith in his teammates.
“We lost some good guys like Challen, Freedom (Alualu), Bishop, Justin, Kingston, Kingsley (Moses-Sanchez), but we can’t worry about them,” he said. “We have us right now. Our returnees. I know we look small, but we have some studs.”
Farrington will host its Maroon and White scrimmage today, following a JV scrimmage with Saint Louis. On Aug. 4, they host Kamehameha in the first official game to be played at Edward ‘Skippa’ Diaz Stadium. Umaga is prepared to handle a heavy load if necessary.
“I like the old Farrington I-formation, but the new formation will do good. We do both,” said Umaga, who also has a shot to start at mike ’backer. “Our line can move. It’s great. I tell them, size doesn’t matter. Whoever’s in front of you, get them off the line and keep driving, stay on your block.”
Titan Pesamino is making the adjustment from defensive end to middle linebacker. Carrying the tradition of standout defenders in maroon won’t be easy.
“I told my coaches wherever you need me, I will learn that position and do my very best even if I’ve got to start from the bottom,” Pesamino said. “This whole summer, I was working my butt off to learn and adjust. I think our defense will do good this season. We may be small in size, but we’ve got big hearts. We will not go down without a fight, no matter the size.”
Fo‘i Sila could become one of the top interior linemen in the OIA. Samsen Tanuvasa is another potential standout at linebacker, and the secondary has seasoned returnees in Chasen Castiliano, Ezra Williams and Tre Barrett.
“The way I see the class of 2017 impacting our current team is the way in which they were willing to serve and get involved in other aspects besides football. Their faith, their love for their family and their commitment to each other is what they leave as a legacy,” Okimoto said.
FARRINGTON GOVERNORS 2017 SCHEDULE
>> Aug. 4: Kamehameha, 7:30 p.m.
>> Aug. 11: at Campbell, 7:30 p.m.
>> Aug. 18: at Nanakuli, 7:30 p.m.
>> Aug. 26: Kapolei, 6:30 p.m.
>> Sept. 1: at Kailua, 7:30 p.m.
>> Sept. 8: Mililani, 7:30 p.m.
>> Sept. 23: Castle, 6:30 p.m.
>> Sept. 29: at Leilehua, 7:30 p.m.
>> Head coach: Randall Okimoto, 16th season (111-62-3)
>> Last year: 8-4 (5-2 OIA Red); Beat Kaiser 43-0 in first round of OIA D-I playoffs, beat Campbell 25-7 in OIA D-I quarterfinals, beat Kapolei 33-27 in OIA semifinals, lost 44-8 to Kahuku in OIA D-I championship game, lost 14-8 to Waianae in first round of the state tournament Open Division
>> Key offensive returnees: Sale Collins, Jr., OL, 6-0, 280; Logan Faitau, Jr., OL, 6-1, 295; Blessing Umaga, Sr., RB, 5-10, 205; Titan Pesamino, Sr., TE, 5-11, 215; Reginald Faamatau, Sr., TE/FB, 5-8, 200
>> Key defensive returnees: Foi Sila, Sr., DL, 6-0, 270; Chasen Castiliano, Sr., DB, 5-9, 165; Samsen Tanuvasa, Jr., LB, 5-9, 165; Ezra Williams, Sr., DB, 5-10, 160; Tre Barrett, Jr., DB, 6-2, 195
>> Governors with Division I FBS college offers: None