Transfers Make Tough Mules Team An Even Scarier Foe
Leilehua’s off-season proved that the rich, indeed, get richer. With 12 starters returning from 2011’s 10-2-1 season, the football team further solidified its roster with the arrival of some high-profile transfers whose families moved into the school district.
“The newcomers have come in and really helped us,” said head coach Nolan Tokuda. “They’ve gelled with the returnees, some of whom have been around here for four years. That’s going to be a key for this team – their being able to play for one another.”
Among the transfers are two-time OIA Red Conference First Team pick Keoni Piceno, and 2011 White Conference Offensive Player of the Year Kaimi Paredes, previously of Pearl City. Piceno’s younger brother, Ikaika, also is in the fold. Paredes’ brother, Keaka, who was Pearl City’s center last fall, also transferred in.
On the defensive side, the Mules added Mililani-transfer Branson Funakoshi.
The most visible change will be behind center, as Kenan Sadanaga completed his eligibility after throwing for 3,118 yards and 40 touch-downs last fall.
Justin Jenks and Kaimi Paredes have been sharing snaps this spring and are likely to continue in the fall. “They’ll split time,” Tokuda said. “Both do different things really well.”
Also back on offensive are slot backs Nick Rodriguez and Conrad Supnet, wide receiver Keanu Ferreira-Kahele, and linemen Jaryn Villegas, Dylan Tabigne and Siaosi Haunga.
Defensively, Tokuda sees the secondary among its strengths. In addition to Funakoshi, All-Conference corner back Shai Pulawa returns along with fellow defensive back Brennan Jacinto and last year’s nickel back, Malik Morton. In the trenches, Andrew Sesepasara and Chavez Moala return at end and nose guard, respectively. Linebacker has been a strong suit in recent years and should be again with the return of Keannu Kamakaiwi, Samson Zimmerman and Leland Wong.
“Those guys really have stood out this spring,” said Tokuda. For his part, Tokuda also is back at the helm after spending a year as an assistant following the birth of his first child. Mark Kurisu was interim head coach last season as well as defensive coordinator.
Including himself, Tokuda has five coaches on staff who have been head coaches. Former Pearl City head coach Kai Kamaka is the newest addition, taking over as wide receiver coach this spring. Al Villoria and Glen Nakasone are current and former head JV coaches with the Mules.