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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Te'o had starring role as Defensive Player of Year

By Stacy Kaneshiro

Advertiser Staff Writer

"So Many Stars" was the title of a 1968 song by Sergio Mendes.

Forty years later, it is the theme of the 2008 Advertiser All-State football team.

The brightest star is Punahou School senior linebacker Manti Te'o, the state's most decorated high school player. He is the Defensive Player of the Year without a doubt.

But the other side of the ball was a galaxy. Four players received serious consideration for Offensive Player of the Year, three from state champion Punahou. When the stardust settled, Leilehua junior quarterback Andrew Manley and Buffanblu senior receiver Robert Toma were even in votes to share the award. They nudged out Punahou running back/receiver Dalton Hilliard and quarterback Cayman Shutter, both seniors.

Coaches, media and other sources statewide were consulted in the selection of the Division I and Division II All-State teams. As for the players of the year, their own coaches' votes were discounted from the mix, so they were unbiased selections.

All-everything

Te'o was clearly the best defensive player. He was hyped since the spring when he was already being touted as one of the top recruits for this year's class. Te'o was hounded by media on the national level. But like on the field, nothing fazed him. He lived up to expectations, coaches said.

"He was a man among boys," Kahuku coach Reggie Torres said.

For the record, the 6-foot-2, 233-pound Te'o amassed 129 tackles, including 11 sacks, forced three fumbles, tipped four passes and totaled 19 quarterback "hurries." He also had three interceptions, returning one 49 yards for a touchdown. He also returned a blocked punt for a TD.

Moreover, Te'o was a threat on offense at running back. He rushed for 176 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and four TDs and had three receptions, two for TDs. Punahou coach Kale Ane had to spot him in situations to not wear him down where he is most valuable: on defense. Te'o still succeeded despite defenses knowing he was likely to get the ball when he went in on offense.

"He had a huge impact for us offensively," Ane said.

Te'o was such a force that The Advertiser considered just naming him the overall Player of the Year.

His numerous national awards (Butkus Award as best linebacker, USA Today Defensive Player of the Year and Sporting News High School Athlete of the Year) are just icing on the cake.

Oh, and he's an Eagle Scout.

Manley among men

Leilehua's Manley is still a junior, but has amassed a 10-2 record in postseason.

"He's smart, reads well, makes adjustments," Kahuku's Torres said. "(The Mules) struggled with their offensive line, but he was able to get rid of the ball fast, break tackles. He always found a way to win."

Even in the loss to Farrington in the O'ahu Interscholastic Association Red semifinals, Manley drove his team into field-goal range in the closing seconds.

"He brought them back in no time," Torres said.

But the field goal was blocked, something he had no control over.

Manley led the state with 3,642 yards passing with a Division I-leading 31 touchdowns. He also rushed for four TDs.

He actually shares the first-team QB slot with Punahou's Shutter, who had more first-team votes. It's just that all of Manley's first-team votes also came with a vote for Offensive Player of the Year.

Shutter passed for 2,403 yards and 28 TDs with a 167.8 passing efficiency rating, second-best among Division I QBs. He played well when it mattered most and distributed the ball efficiently to the many weapons — Toma, Hilliard, Kimo Makaula and Te'o — he had at his disposal.

Manley and Shutter were the coaches' picks in a three-player race. Not to be forgotten is Saint Louis junior quarterback Jeremy Higgins, whose 178.6 passing efficiency was tops among Division I QBs.

Playmaker

Ane said Te'o was someone opponents always had to be conscious of where he was on the field, whether on offense or defense.

The same applied to Toma, whose primary position was wide receiver.

"He's such an explosive playmaker," Castle coach Nelson Maeda said. "He was one of their go-to guys, even though they had a lot of weapons. When we played them preseason, he was the one they tried to get the ball to to open up the game. He was a great open-field runner. He was a playmaker."

Toma led the state with 1,393 receiving yards and 15 TDs. He also returned kickoffs and played defensive back in certain situations.

Toma tied Hilliard for the team lead with 19 TDs apiece. One of Toma's TDs came on an interception return.

OFFENSE

Joining Toma as All-State receivers are repeat pick Edieson Dumlao of Leilehua (78 catches for 929 yards, 11 TDs) and Saint Louis' Billy Stutzmann (46 for 693, 8 TDs).

The running backs were clear picks with Farrington's Apelu So'oalo and Waipahu's Troy Matautia. Each ran for 1,230 yards and combined for 27 TDs.

The offensive line was topped by leading vote-getter Chauncy Makainai of Kailua, followed by Kapolei's Stan Hasiak, repeat selection Mana Greig of Saint Louis, Crusader teammate Tytan Timoteo and Punahou's Anthony Crabb.

The place-kicker is Leilehua's Maika Kunioka, who led all specialists in scoring with 66 points and had a state-leading nine field goals. DEFENSE

The closest to a unanimous pick after Te'o was Farrington's Isaiah Iuta. The gap between Iuta and the next linebacker was wider than the gap in votes between fourth and fifth defensive backs, so five were picked for the secondary.

Leading the defensive backs is Farrington's multi-talented James Smith, also one of the state's better punters. He is joined by Kahuku's Jray Galeai, Kamalani Alo and Aulola Tonga, and Punahou's Sean McFadden.

On the line, Wai'anae's Wade Keli'ikipi led the way, followed by Baldwin's Mana Rosa, Farrington's VJ Fehoko and Punahou's Jonathan Sani Fuimaono. The latter two are juniors.

ALL-PURPOSE

No one fit the description of this category more than Punahou's Hilliard.

Hilliard was listed as a running back, but often lined up as a receiver, as Punahou ran a lot of empty formations (no running back) or brought in Te'o for added headaches for defenses. Hilliard rushed for 599 yards and 10 TDs and was second on the team with 63 receptions for 725 yards and eight TDs.

Like Toma, he also returned kicks and played defensive back in some situations.

Rico Newman was Leilehua's answer to Hilliard, a running back who also lined up as a receiver.

Newman rushed for 427 yards and nine TDs, and had 75 catches for 813 yards and 8 TDs. He also returned kickoffs and, like Smith, was one of the better punters in the state.

Punahou's Makaula was a multiple threat on different levels. At 6 feet 3, he was a different type of receiving threat from Toma. But he also was the best backup QB in the state. Having been the starting QB for most of last season, there wasn't much of a dropoff when he filled in for Shutter. Like Newman and Smith, Makaula also was a good punter.

Castle's Shaydon Kehano was fourth among Division I players in receiving yards with 867. He also played defensive back and returned punts and kicks. He hardly left the field, Maeda said.

Kapolei's Simione Vehikite was a unique talent. He had a lineman's physique (6-1, 243), but played linebacker and fullback (9.8 yards per carry and eight TDs).

Division II

Since it is the body of work — all Division I and II players — that matters, only a first team was selected.

The Division II selections were still measured as though there were one All-State team. All of the Division II first-team picks most likely would have been honorable mention in an overall all-state selection with a few perhaps making second team.

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