Waianae's George Kauwalu picked Defensive Player of the Year
He's learned to accept his role, this proud Searider has.
Around campus, nobody is afraid to give George Kauwalu -- better known as 'Oki' -- a little bit of a hard time when cameras and reporters are around. On the field, though, it's a different story.
Raiders' Torres honoredCoach of the Year honors went to Reggie Torres, who guided Kahuku to a state crown in his first year at the helm.
"He did a fantastic job this year," Saint Louis' Delbert Tengan said. "At Kahuku, they don't only expect you to win, they expect championships and he delivered. I thought he was solid and the kids were disciplined. Following in the footsteps of Siuaki Livai is tough shoes to fill, but they didn't miss a beat with Reggie as their head coach."
Farrington coach Randall Okimoto agreed. "He's very deserving. I was very impressed with the way he stayed disciplined in running the team. It's a credit to him to being focused when there was a lot of doubt."
"He did a great job," longtime Aiea coach Wendell Say said. "You could see it in the Kahuku team. They're business-like. They came to the games prepared, never got flustered. They believed in their gameplan. The sideline control was very good. Their kids weren't getting the penalties that used to hurt them. I thought Reggie did a heck of a job."
Kauwalu, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound outside linebacker, was a clear choice by coaches and media as the Star-Bulletin's Defensive Player of the Year. Saint Louis defensive end Scott Smith was a distant second in the voting.
The senior 'backer had all the speed, ferocity, skill and intellect of a superior defender. Waianae defensive coordinator Jason Hussey pointed to Kauwalu's ability to bring out the best in his teammates while unintentionally assuming a clear role as a coach on the field.
His intangibles were absolutely a plus for one of the state's top defensive units, but what coaches saw in Kauwalu's play made them fans, as well.
"Oh, he's a prototype linebacker," Saint Louis coach Delbert Tengan said. "He has all the great qualities that all great linebackers have: a nose for the ball, relentless, covers the play sideline to sideline, and delivers the punishing hits."
Farrington coach Randall Okimoto saw Kauwalu early in the season. "He was the player that stood out the most when we played them. Running the football was tough," he said. "He's a great tackler. He reminds me of great ones from Waianae like Nate Jackson, Chris Pagaofie."
Leilehua coach Nolan Tokuda, who saw his normally productive offense get shut out by the Seariders, took the praise a step higher.
"I think he's the best linebacker that ever played at Waianae. He can cover. What other linebacker can drop back into coverage, make plays and make everyone else better? He's humble, too," Tokuda said. "He's an old-school linebacker, lets his pads do all the talking. You had to know where he is. We know he's coming, but we just can't block him."
Aiea coach Wendell Say agreed. "Without a doubt, he was a pleasure to watch. He was all over the place. If you love football, you love this kid. I don't remember seeing him miss tackles. The guy only has one motor: full speed," he said.
DefenseKaniela Tuipulotu, Defensive tackle
Despite lingering ankle and Achilles' heel injuries, Tuipulotu was a fierce warrior in the trenches. "He's a great player. You wonder about their secondary and why they're so sound, and it starts with the pressure up front," Leilehua's Nolan Tokuda said.
Nai Fotu, Defensive tackle
"That guy impressed me more than even Kaniela did. He reminded me of Ray Lewis playing D-line. You know he's gonna hit somebody, and that's why they had him on special teams, too. He never takes a play off," Tokuda said.
Solomana Aigamaua, Defensive end
In the final voting, Aigamaua actually outpointed his teammate, Scott Smith, at the position. Pretty good for a player who started his high-school career at Leone High School (American Samoa) as as receiver and quarterback.
Scott Smith, Defensive end
His height and persistence created bad memories for some of the state's top passers. "He was in (Brett) Kan's face three times and forced two bad throws," Tokuda said of a showdown between the Crusaders and Punahou.
Sam Fehoko, Defensive end
His increased speed and size were matched by his improved technique, something that came with daily video study.
"He's quick and athletic, kind of in the mold of 'Mona (Aigamaua)," Tengan said.
"He's dependable and leads by example," said his coach, Okimoto.
Jacob Barit, Linebacker, punter
Few linebackers had the power to stop the run and speed to cover the flats like Barit. "His job was to make the plays, and to his credit, he made the plays," Tokuda noted. "He made a lot of plays with his legs. He's also a good defensive captain."
Josh Andrews, Linebacker
A narrow first-team pick over Punahou's Manti Te'o, Andrews was a three-year started in the middle for the Trojans. The senior was bigger and more tenacious this season. "Sometimes, he brought too much aggression, but he's very instinctual," Tokuda said.
Brandon Hardin, Cornerback
At 6-2 1/2, he was a corner with no peer. "I couldn't believe how good this kid is," Say said. "The guy can play corner with his speed, and he looks like he's playing safety because of his size. He's gonna fill in. He's got a lot of upside."
Preston Ayala, Cornerback
The quick senior was a close selection over Kamehameha's Andrew Godinet. Ayala's strengths were many. "He's a DB that can play run and pass. He can cover and come up and make the tackles on the run," Tengan said.
Gary Nagy, Safety
The converted receiver was a standout in the secondary. Tengan, a former DB coach, was impressed. "He's an athletic guy, explosive. A solid defensive back," he said.
Shiloah Te'o, Safety
The former quarterback was another key component in Kahuku's amazing defensive unit. "He's another athletic player with great anticipation on the ball," Tengan said. "He could cover sideline to sideline."
|DT||Vaughn Meatoga||Kamehameha||6-2||280||Sr. |
|DT||Fred Ellis||Waianae||6-1||240||Sr. |
|DT||Joshua Manupuna||Kamehameha||6-2||270||Sr. |
|DE||Matthew Hunt||Mililani||6-1||245||Sr. |
|DE||Viliami Haunga||Leilehua||6-4||235||Sr. |
|LB||Manti Te'o||Punahou||6-1||210||So. |
|LB||Corey Paredes||Castle||5-11||203||Sr. |
|LB||Chad Duran||Waianae||6-1||215||Sr. |
|CB||Andrew Godinet||Kamehameha||5-9||170||Sr. |
|CB||Jeffrey Kahler||Saint Louis||5-9||165||Sr. |
|S||Rykin Enos||Kamehameha||6-0||187||Sr. |
|S||Kamuela Foki||Kapolei||5-10||200||Sr. |
|DT||Jeremiah Onosai||Pac-Five||6-3||240||Sr. |
|DT||Falealii Tausaga||Aiea||6-1||290||Sr. |
|DE||David Paaluhi||Waianae||6-0||215||Sr. |
|DE||Andrew Noga||Farrington||6-2||230||Sr. |
|DE||Thor Salanoa||Radford||6-2||185||Sr. |
|LB||Siaosi Tafuna||Kahuku||5-11||210||Sr. |
|LB||Kyle Kaimiola-Kaaihue||Baldwin||5-10||187||Jr. |
|LB||Sifa Heimuli||Kahuku||5-11||210||Sr. |
|CB||Dustin Pauu||Leilehua||5-11||170||Sr. |
|CB||Travis Daniels||Radford||5-8||160||Sr. |
|S||Manoa Latu||Saint Louis||6-0||188||Jr. |
|S||Scott Keiter-Charles||Castle||5-9||172||Sr. |