Mules Re­lease Not-so-se­cret Weapon: At­tack 30 De­fense

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

The Most Valu­able Player on the 2010 Leile­hua foot­ball team just may be the Mules’ de­fen­sive scheme it­self.

La­beled “At­tack 30 de­fense” by its cre­ator, de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mark Kurisu, the un­ortho­dox scheme is here to stay, ac­cord­ing to head coach Nolan Tokuda.

No sur­prise there. As they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

“Mark is a ge­nius,” Tokuda said of Kurisu, on staff since 1998 and de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor since 2003. “He makes things look easy for our kids.”

Things don’t look so easy for op­pos­ing of­fenses — at least when Leile­hua is in At­tack 30 mode. Con­fu­sion is the pre­vail­ing theme for of­fen­sive lines that have tried to block the Mules when in the scheme. They first un­veiled it in the sec­ond half of the Kame­hameha game — mostly in pass­ing downs — and shut out the War­riors the last 24 min­utes.

A more glar­ing ex­am­ple of its ef­fec­tive­ness came in week three, when they trailed a good Camp­bell team 20-0 in the first half be­fore pulling out a 36-20 vic­tory.

“We stuck with At­tack 30 the whole way,” said Tokuda, whose team had won five in a row en­ter­ing the week­end.

When in the scheme, the de­fen­sive front is of­ten a cou­ple yards off of the ball be­fore the snap and in per­pet- ual mo­tion, cre­at­ing con­fu­sion for of­fen­sive line­men who are sud­denly un­sure of what their key is when the play is set in mo­tion. Whether they’re com­ing with a three-or four­man rush is also hard to tell.

“It looks pretty crazy at times,” Tokuda ad­mit­ted. “You want the (op­pos­ing of­fen­sive) line­men to think in­stead of re­act. It makes them play slow. Mostly we use it in pass­ing downs, but we use it against the run as well.”

Kurisu’s re­sources in­cluded Uni­ver­sity of Idaho de­fen­sive line coach Eti Ena, who has ties to Hawaii. “Mark met with him in the spring in Idaho, and he also talked to sev­eral coaches who use three­man fronts (in a 3-4 scheme) as well as tak­ing some ideas from his own play­ing days at Lin­field,” Tokuda ex­plained. “He and our de­fen­sive coach- es have put in a ton of work.”

As­sist­ing Kurisu are Tui Alail­ima, Matt Su­miya, Garry Naka­mura, Len Naka­sone, Afa Ali­ilua and Avi Faaloua.

En­ter­ing last week­end’s OIA Red West fi­nale with Mililani, the Mules are yield­ing only 181.5 yards per game (92.6 on the ground and only 83.3 yards through the air) and giv­ing up 16 points per out­ing.

On both sides of the ball, Tokuda is pleased with the un­selfish­ness and com­mit­ment to team. This year’s team is akin to a rock band with­out a lead singer.

“An in­di­vid­ual star can be shut down, but no one can shut down an en­tire team,” he said. “We’re not play­ing our best foot­ball yet — that’s the good thing. But if the kids con­tinue to lean on each other, we’ll be fine. You don’t see eye-pop­ping num­bers for our guys (sta­tis­ti­cally), but if we con­tinue to play as a team, we’ll be suc­cess­ful that way.”

The Mules have a bye this week and will host a play­off game next week­end.

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