Mililani Linebacker Looks Toward Strong Senior Season

Some players are leaders by example. Others lead by being vocal. Mililani’s Ian Namu takes pride in leading both ways.

“My strength is that I’m a good motivator – I can pick up the team when we’re down,” said Namu, “and I enjoy the work for the most part – it is something you have to do. I want to perform at the best of my abilities and be able to let everything out on the field.”

That’s especially the case this season. Namu is now a senior, and he can feel his eligibility clock slowly ticking away. The good news is that he enters the 2013 season with work well-done in the so-called off-season, having positioned himself for the right kind of finish to his career. Once a defensive lineman, Namu is now a linebacker/safety, whose speed and strength allow him to play the physical style demanded by his position. Not surprisingly, he looks up to Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“That’s my team, and I really like him,” said Namu. “The fun of playing football is the game itself and making plays. It’s not that much fun if you’re not making plays.”

As Namu enters his senior season, he’s in a more secure place, having had a year to adjust to his new position, he said. “I had a hard time adjusting at first (to safety/line-backer). My instincts were always (defending the) run first. As a safety, it is (defend the) pass first. I’ve gotten to the point now and I’m disciplined enough to defend both, but I still have the mentality of a defensive lineman.”

Namu and the Trojans are once again hoping to be in the mix for both an OIA championship and a Division I state title with several key holdovers from last year’s team, which went 10-3 overall. Mililani hosts last year’s state runner-up, Punahou, at 7 p.m. Thursday in an interleague game. The Trojans’ OIA Red West opener is set for Aug. 23 at Kapolei.

“I can’t wait to play a game,” said Namu. “We’ve put in all of this time and effort, and now we have to show what we’ve got. A lot of the senior guys, like Dayton Furuta, I’ve played together with a long time. I think we can get a state championship. It will depend on how much the team comes together and how much effort we put in. I think we’re all sound.”

There was no direct line to Namu becoming a force on the football field, as he tried other sports first. “My dad put me in baseball and soccer, but I wasn’t that interested. I liked football and kept doing it. I was really bad at first. In my second year, I became more athletic and I started getting it.”

If all goes according to plan, Namu will be playing college football in the fall of 2014. Several schools are on his radar. “I want to get into architecture and engineering – there’s a lot of math and science (associated), and those are my strong suits in school. I figured it would be a good major for me. Part of the motivation (of football) for me is to get to college on my own, and not have to have my parents pitch in (financially). My parents (Heidi and Namu) do a lot for me. They support me, and I want to do well for them.”