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Saturday, December 12, 2009

High school football talent galore

It would be easy to say that Wendell Say loves football.

The Aiea coach was an onlooker yesterday as the Mainland all-stars departed Aloha Stadium and the Hawaii/Polynesia squad arrived for practice.

Say was in awe of the Hawaii/Poly skill-position standouts — quarterbacks Jeremy Higgins (Saint Louis), Andrew Manley (Leilehua) and P.J. Minaya (Pac-Five), and receivers London Amorin (Pac-Five), Samson Anguay (Campbell), Shaydon Kehano (Castle), Eddie Morales (Honokaa) and Taz Stevenson (Mililani).

"They have an amazing group," Say said. "But what the Mainland (team) has, it's ridiculous."

The Mainland squad, which won last year's inaugural battle, will have arguably the best prep all-star team in the country. The nation's top-rated running back, Lache Seastrunk (Temple, Texas), will line up behind a massive offensive line.

Kickoff for the Hawaii/Polynesia vs. Mainland game is 7 p.m. tomorrow at Aloha Stadium. The HUB Senior Goodwill Classic will kick off the doubleheader at 4 p.m. with the East-West game. This year's twin bill has been dubbed the Aloha Prep Bowl.

With just a few days of practice, Pat Samsonas (Kaiser) is already a big fan of Hawaii/Poly defensive tackle Landon Aano (Kamehameha)."My favorite guy is Landon," said Samsonas, who shares offensive-line coaching duties with Amosa Amosa. "He's a 5-foot-9 ball of fun. He's very quick, very active. He might shock people."

The line also features Hauoli Jamora and Kona Schwenke, Kahuku's dominant pair of pass rushers.

Hawaii/Poly's offensive coordinator is Kip Botelho (Pac-Five), who is ready to unleash his playmakers.

"We'll make use of the receivers. We didn't have enough time to really work on the running game," said Botelho, who saw his quarterback at Division II Pac-Five, Minaya, pass for 3,721 yards and 45 touchdowns this season.

With just five receivers, it might not take long for them to get acclimated to the trio of slingers. The question might be whether Hawaii/Poly's front five can withstand the visitors' pass rush. Given time, Manley (3,099 yards, 28 touchdowns) and Higgins (2,717 yards, 27 touchdowns) have torched defenses in Hawaii.

Stevenson figures to see work on both sides of the ball. He started at safety for Mililani, but has the size and speed to be a gamebreaker in any scenario.

"We want to put Hawaii on the map. This year, we'll try and come out with the win," said Stevenson, who has orally committed to Washington.

Farrington left tackle Joseph Siliga said he's already an NCAA qualifier. The Govs' co-captain will fill out his lanky frame (235 pounds) soon enough.

"It's just another challenge I have to go through, to see where I'm at. To me, I represent both Farrington and Hawaii," he said. "I like this team."

The Hawaii/Poly team has a 40-man roster, including 10 Polynesians from the continent. Among them is lineman Ricky Heimuli, who has impressed coach Reggie Torres.

"He's legit," the Kahuku coach said. "He's probably going to play both ways for us."

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