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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Big Isle athletes get shot to shine

by Joe Ferraro
Stephens Media
Published: Sunday, November 22, 2009 8:08 AM HST
Not many people outside of Hawaii know who they are. However, a gathering at Oahu's Kapolei High on Dec. 12 will create plenty of exposure for five Big Island high school football players.

Kealakehe's Peni Vea and Dominick Trevino, Waiakea's Nathaniel Timoteo and Mauna Palama-Danielson and Hawaii Prep's Shane Brostek are among 30 Hawaii high school football players who have been invited to meet college football recruiting guru Tom Lemming on Oahu. There, Lemming will collect highlight videos from each of the players, who will also fill out questionaires for Lemming to review.

Lemming will then use the information he gathers for his Prep Football Report -- a catalog that includes short bios on the best high school players from each state. Lemming, who also hosts the television show "Tom Lemming's Generation Next" on CSTV, distributes his report to all academic institutions who offer college football.

"Being on an island, exposure is really hard, and this is really big,'' Trevino said. "It puts us on the map.''

Doris Sullivan, the director of Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance -- a nonprofit organization that assists athletes from Hawaii and American Samoa who want to pursue athletics at the next level -- and Lemming compiled the list of players invited to the gathering.

Sullivan asked head football coaches and assistant football coaches on the islands to nominate players for Lemming's event. Sullivan said she and Lemming took statistics, academic performance, college football offers, combine speeds and coaches' comments into consideration when they pared down a list of 35 nominated players to 22.

Eleven players met Lemming when he last came to Hawaii in March 2008. Sullivan said all 11 players received scholarship offers. One of the them, Notre Dame freshman linebacker Manti Teo, graduated from Punahou in 2009. Another, Farrington senior linebacker V.J. Fehoko, has received about 20 scholarship offers, according to Governors coach Randall Okimoto.

"It's a huge boost for these kids,'' Sullivan said of the gathering. "It just doesn't help these athletes, it helps everyone."

When Sullivan says "everyone," she refers to players college coaches stumble upon after seeing game film from other athletes. Sullivan said one college coach who saw film of Leilehua senior quarterback Andrew Manley contacted her to inquire about other players on the Oahu Interscholastic Association team.

Sullivan said Lemming's next Prep Football Report will appear in the late spring or early summer of 2010.

As of Saturday, 26 of the 30 players invited to the gathering informed Sullivan they will attend. Vea, Trevino and Timoteo are among the 22 juniors on the list, while Brostek and Palama-Danielson are among the six sophomore invitees. Two freshmen will also go to Kapolei.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Vea was a sure tackler for a Kealakehe team that went 5-5 this season. Sullivan said the junior safety ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds at two PIAA combines.

The Waveriders utilized Vea's speed on their special teams unit. In Kealakehe's 39-14 home win over Waiakea, Vea returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. Vea had a 68-yard kickoff return in the Waveriders' 49-22 home win over Hilo on Sept. 20.

Vea viewed the invitation to Lemming's event as an honor.

"I hope to get a lot out of it, but I'm really thankful for the opportunity to go to this,'' Vea said.

"It means a lot to me because not every player gets a shot at this kind of thing. To be one of those lucky ones, it means a lot."

Vea's teammate, Trevino, started the Waveriders' first six games at quarterback. For the season, Trevino completed 71 of 130 passes for 920 yards and nine touchdowns. He threw six interceptions.

Prior to Honokaa's 7-6 home win over Kealakehe on Oct. 2, Dragons coach Fred Lau called Trevino, who has a 4.0 GPA, one of the most accurate passers he's seen on the island. Kealakehe used Trevino as a tight end in its final four games.

The other three Big Islanders headed to Oahu are offensive linemen.

At 6-3 and 300 pounds, Brostek has led an effective HPA ground game that averages 5.3 yards per carry. The sophomore left tackle earned honorable mention All-Big Island Interscholastic Federation honors last season.

Brostek and the Ka Makani (11-0) will play Kauai High at Kauai's Vidinha Stadium on Friday in the semifinals of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II football state tournament.

The 6-foot-4, 254-pound Timoteo played right tackle on a 6-4 Waiakea team. He played guard as a sophomore, but Warriors coach Will Tolentino needed a quick lineman at right tackle who could keep up with pass-rushing defensive ends this year. He turned to Timoteo.

Tolentino praised Timoteo for his work ethic, saying the junior attended lineman clinics during the summer without being told to do so. Tolentino also pointed out that Timoteo excels in the classroom, saying he "understands the student-athlete role.''

"He's a big, quick kid -- a coachable kid,'' Tolentino said.

Palama-Davidson played Timoteo's position -- at the JV level. Tolentino projects Palama-Davidson (6-5, 265) as a left tackle on the varsity team next year.

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