Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Te'o, Funaki Top Voting of Readers

Who were the Hawaii's best high school football players the past decade?

Online readers decided that quarterback Inoke Funaki (Kahuku '02) and linebacker Manti Te'o (Punahou '09) are the Offensive and Defensive Players of the Decade in a non-scientific poll that started Thursday.

The two lead The Advertiser's first All-Decade high school football team. The players picked from all-state selections from 2000 to 2009.

A majority of the selections were either multiple-year picks or Offensive or Defensive Players of the Year. But we left the readers to pick the top offensive and defensive players. In some cases, post-high school success was a factor.

Eleven different Players of the Year and several multi-year selections didn't make the cut.

We picked Siuaki Livai as Coach of the Decade. The former Kahuku coach won four of the school's five state titles during the 10-year span.

We chose Funaki, former Saint Louis quarterback Micah Mamiya and Leilehua quarterback Andrew Manley as finalists for voting as Offensive Player of the Decade. Mamiya and Manley are the only two-time Offensive Players of the Year in the decade. Funaki also was a two-time first-team pick, but was Offensive Player of the Year only once ('01). But he's the only one of the trio to lead his team to two state titles.

Perhaps because he did it early in the decade, not many remember that Funaki passed for 2,446 yards and 29 touchdowns his senior year. He also rushed for 548 yards and eight TDs.

Mamiya, now of Montana Western, accounted for 37 TDs in his best season
(2007), passing for 27 and rushing for 10, while throwing for 2,267 yards.
Manley, who has verbally committed to New Mexico State, twice passed for more than 3,000 yards and combined for 35 TDs (31 passing, four rushing) in his best season (2008). His career was like a storybook because he was promoted from the JV to the varsity in the middle of the playoffs his sophomore year when Leilehua's dual-starting quarterbacks were injured in the same game. Manley would lead the Mules to the O'ahu Interscholastic Association and state title in 2007.

The Defensive Player candidates came down to two linebackers. Te'o is the most decorated high school player to come out of Hawai'i. He is the only USA Today national Defensive Player of the Year (2008) from here and the first recipient of the prep version of the Dick Butkus Award for being the best linebacker.

Blaze Soares is the only three-time first-team all-state selection during the decade ('02 to '04).

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