Spring Game A Chance For New Mules To Dis­play Skills

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

Leile­hua head football coach Nolan Tokuda doesn’t mind that his Mules are of­ten iden­ti­fied as an of­fen­sive power, given the points they’ve put up over the years and the steady stream of stel­lar quar­ter­backs and tal­ented sup­port­ing casts at the skilled po­si­tions on the of­fen­sive side.

The de­fense hardly op­er­ates off of the radar, how­ever. In­deed, what has kept Leile­hua among the state’s elite has been its abil­ity to shut down teams on the de­fen­sive side.

All signs point once again to de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mark Kurisu and play­ers field­ing a solid de­fense.

“(Kurisu) will in­tro­duce yet an­other scheme that should cre­ate some chaos this year,” Tokuda said. “He al­ready has his base 4-3, his At­tack-30 de­fense, and now he’ll be us­ing the 4-2-5, which was made fa­mous by TCU, and which is per­fect against spread teams. They cre­ate a lot of turnovers with it.”

Leile­hua gave up 238.9 to­tal yards per out­ing last sea­son, in­clud­ing an aver­age of just 94.3 a game through the air. The Mules fin­ished 7-4 over­all (3-3 in the OIA Red West) last fall, yield­ing an aver­age of 20 points per game.

The Mules were to be­gin spring prac­tice Mon­day with their pub­lic un­veil­ing set for the an­nual spring game at 4:30 p.m. May 31. “For other Red West schools wish­ing to come out and scout us, it be­gins at 6:30,” Tokuda joked.

A sta­ble of key re­turnees should help Kurisu reload on the de­fen­sive side of the ball.

“Torenzo Vereen, Maake Muti, Al­lan La­gala, Mac Crow­ley and Soga Eli should bring some pres­sure to op­pos­ing quar­ter­backs,” said Kurisu of the de­fen­sive line. “Our re­turn­ing lineback­ers Alema Sch­midt and Sione Haunga should also be solid, along with new­comer Zadus Dili Wil­liams.”

A new-look sec­ondary will pre­vail in the back, where the Mules lost all four starters to grad­u­a­tion. “We have trans­fers from the Main­land in An­thony John­son and Steven Elam, who should so­lid­ify our sec­ondary, along with Deshaun Os­borne who was a shut-down de­fen­sive back on the JV team and Will Pule, who we moved from run­ning back to safety.”

Of­fen­sively, the Mules still have their top re­turn­ing passer, rusher and re­ceiver as well as four line­men.

Se­nior-to-be Justin Jenks is pro­jected as the quar­ter­back, early-on, af­ter start­ing ev­ery game last fall at the po­si­tion. He threw for 1,808 yards and 17 touch­downs last year. “Justin should hold down the job, but ( trans­fer) Kalan­imoku Pauole is learn­ing the of­fense nicely,” Tokuda noted.

Also back is run­ning back Ikaika Pi­ceno, who rushed for 312 yards and five touch­downs as a ju­nior in 2012. “He is our work horse, and he adds some ex­plo­sive­ness to our rungame.”

Tokuda also is ex­cited about the progress of tight end/ full­back Ken­drick Nunes, who was an of­fen­sive line­man last year. The pass-catch­ing corps is high­lighted by Tristin Ka­maka and Dustin Ancheta Maeda.

Up front, Tokuda’s count­ing on re­turnees Siaosi Haunga, Dy­lan Tabigne, Soakimi Hu­fanga, Epeli Na­toko and Waipahu-trans­fer Bron­son Moala.

The Mules’ re­turn game also will fea­ture vet­er­ans Kelvin Cabebe Ca­manse and Eli Calzo.

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