Campbell Works To Strengthen Defense During Off-season

As Campbell head football coach Amosa Amosa discovered long ago, there is, indeed, strength in numbers. And that also includes at home.

He and wife Akenese welcomed their seventh child, daughter Aziah, to their family during the off-season. Amosa then welcomed 160 players (including junior varsity prospects) to Campbell’s football family in May with spring drills, which led into the current summer program. In two weeks, the Sabers will officially begin fall camp.

“I know it is going to be a great year for us already because of our lucky No. 7 (being born),” said Amosa.

The coach’s off-season was made better by recollections of last year, when the Sabers officially returned to the high-rent district of Island football, going 8-3 overall and 5-1 in the OIA Red West. The lone league loss came to first-place Leilehua, which also handed Campbell one of its other two defeats.

On the heels of that success, Amosa was pleased with the response of his returnees in the weight room and with their conditioning. Nearly 160 players took part in Campbell’s summer football program, including prospective JV players. “The success of last year was because of the off-season we had,” he said. “Almost everyone came to our workouts – unless they were involved in another sport – and it was that way again this year.”

Amosa is known in football circles for his mastery of play-calling his run-and-shoot offense, but the team’s ability to play defense should not be underestimated, as evidenced by a 14-0 road win at Punahou last season. In returnees Solomon Leaeno, Amate Savusa and Toese Tia, the Sabers figure to have the nucleus of another good defense. Savusa and Tia are linemen, while Leaeno is a linebacker.

“Solomon has been really good – he’s having a great summer,” Amosa said. “He’ll be the leader of our defense. We should be solid on the line with Amate and Toese. Defensively, we really lost some awesome defensive backs, but we’re working toward replacing them. The line and our linebackers will be the strength of our team.”

Offensively, quarterbacks Justin Tago-Sue and Isaac Hurd both are back. “If we were to play today, Justin would start,” Amosa said of Tago-Sue, who threw for 1,436 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2011. “He’s had great success and brings a lot of leadership. Isaac has had some injuries to work through this summer. Both are coming along. They push each other, and they’re both going to be a big part of us.”

Running backs Paul-Andrew Rhoden and Triston Pebria also return, along with linemen Logan Santiago and David Ontai. Rhoden and Pebria averaged 6.0 and 5.7 yards per carry, respectively. The receiver corps will likely center around Brannon Cody Bantolina, Amosa Amosa Jr., Dahsten Kekiwi, Alonzo Everett and Bronson Ader. Junior quarterback Kainoa Perry also has shifted to receiver.

Campbell opens its 2012 season with a pair of games against East foes. It hosts Kaiser Aug. 10 in a pre-season game, and visits Kailua the following Friday in a league cross-over game.