It’s Mules Vs. War­riors On New LHS Turf

MidWeek Islander (Central Oahu) - - Central Oahu Sports - By JACK DANILEWICZ

As Leile­hua pre­pares to bat­tle de­fend­ing state cham­pion Kame­hameha at 6:30 p.m. Satur­day (also on OC-16), the big pic­ture is firmly in mind, to hear Mules head coach Nolan Tokuda tell it.

“We want to get pre­pared for the next six games (in OIA Red West),” said Tokuda. “We’ll look at it more as an­other pre­sea­son game. We’ll play ev­ery­body to get them more ex­pe­ri­ence and reps.”

The War­riors beat Leile­hua 40-0 last Novem­ber in the state semi­fi­nals, lest any­one for­get. Both teams will have their share of new play­ers, but Tokuda ex­pects more of the same from Kame­hameha, scheme-wise.

Kame­hameha’s 4-3 de­fense held Leile­hua to neg­a­tive rush­ing yards and only 135 through the air last fall, so get- ting the most of ev­ery pos­ses­sion is key.

“Scheme-wise, we’ll look at the film, but if it’s not bro­ken, they won’t change it.They use a lot of stunts and blitz cov­er­ages. They’re able to rely on their ath­leti­cism. They’ll have qual­ity guys. Coach Stant and his staff do a great job. It will be a true test.”

Among the themes in spring prac­tice was re­plac­ing quar­ter­back An­drew Man­ley and re­build­ing a de­fen­sive front. Tokuda likes the progress in both ar­eas so far. “Los­ing our front four was a con­cern, but coach (Duane) Kurisu and his staff have done a great job,” he said.

Of­fen­sively, Tokuda will go with se­nior Jor­dan Kalaau and ju­nior Ke­nan Fadanaga be­hind cen­ter. “We feel con­fi­dent ei­ther of them could go,” Tokuda said, not­ing that ju­nior Stan Mers­burgh is also pro­gress­ing well. “Stan­ley brings more of a run­ning el­e­ment — he’s a Tim Te­bow type.”

They’re also work­ing on spe­cial teams. “We’re lucky to have first and sec­ond teams with our spe­cial teams now. The last three years, we were pretty ex­plo­sive on of­fense. We’d get the ball at our 20 and ex­pect to score. This year, we’ll need a shorter field. Our de­fense and spe­cial teams play will be huge for us.”

De­fen­sively, vet­eran lead­er­ship comes from lineback­ers Austin Sch­midt, Stock­ton Crow­ley, Alaka‘i Belis­ario and Dar­ric Mat­sumiya.

For Satur­day’s pregame fes­tiv­i­ties, the ath­letic depart­ment and school clubs plan a fun fair from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with food, rides and car­ni­val games to cel­e­brate the new home field turf.

Con­tact Jack Danilewicz at jack­ster.1969@ya­

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