Through the ups and downs of its athletic program, the coveted status among Saint Louis alumni has always been, “Gentlemen of Kalaepohaku.”
Marcus Mariota, along with a steady, influential senior class, is one of those gentlemen.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound senior never sought the spotlight even though he was impeccably prepared and physically gifted from the day he stepped on campus.
He bided his time on the football field, learning from mentors Vinnie Passas and Darnell Arceneaux. Honing his arm strength — he could throw the ball 70 yards as a sophomore — and mental sharpness were vital in the Crusaders’ quick-strike offense. When he finally got his chance to start as a senior, Saint Louis rolled to a state championship. When he wasn’t outrunning every defender, he was finding open windows in their coverage. Mariota completed more than 65 percent of his pass attempts, struck for 32 touchdowns with a miniscule five interceptions, and had a spectacular passer rating of 189.98. When he tucked the ball away, he averaged nearly 9 yards per carry and rushed his way to seven touchdowns.
Coaches and media voted him Offensive Player of the Year. To Passas, arguably the state’s finest quarterbacks coach for the past two decades, it was no surprise.
“He has the accuracy of Jason Gesser and the coolness of Timmy Chang. The competitive spirit of Darnell Arceneaux,” Passas said. “So he’s all these guys built into one guy, and he’s faster and smarter than all of them.”
He did it while learning the run-and-shoot offense as a sophomore. With Arceneaux’s return, Mariota’s 4.4 speed in the 40 became a major strength in a hybrid attack that incorporated the flex option.
Before he took command on the gridiron, he was a starter and one of the ILH’s top soccer players, making the league’s all-star team. He even returned to track and field as a senior to help the Crusaders’ relay team at the ILH and state championships.
Off the field, Mariota is nothing less than a true scholar-athlete with a 3.6 grade-point average and an unofficial team tutor. In between workouts and studying, he still has a loyalty to his Pop Warner team, the Kalani Falcons. On a rare free Saturday, he made his way back to Kahala Park to cheer on the midget and peewee teams.
Mariota will play for powerhouse Oregon next season.