Benetton Fonua was a machine at Kahuku High before matriculating to the University of Hawaii.
The linebacker played a number of positions in his prep days and made plays all over the field, earning Honolulu Star-Advertiser Division I Defensive State Player of the Year in 2011 while leading the Red Raiders to their first state championship since 2006.
He was even a USA Today All-USA second-team pick.
Being that the prep football season is just getting into the swing of things, it felt like a good time to ask Fonua if he has followed the Raiders since he wrapped up his career on the North Shore.
“Man, I still follow it no matter what,” Fonua said. “That’s just always going to be a part of you, you know what I mean. Where you come from, who you are, you’re never going to forget that.”
Kahuku has a new head coach in Lee Leslie. After having their its first game canceled because of the threat of Hurricane Iselle, Kahuku got off on the right foot under its new coach with a 33-19 defeat of Kapolei last week.
And yes, Fonua was paying attention, even with his former Kahuku coach, Reggie Torres, now an assistant at Punahou.
“I feel like they’re going to do great,” Fonua said. “They just gotta keep working hard, you know what I mean? It’s all about work ethic. Work ethic beats talent. That’s all they gotta do, just focus and keep going hard at all times.”
While Fonua hasn’t yet earned a starting defensive job going into his third year at UH, his work ethic is respected by the UH coaches and he is expected to see extensive time on special teams and as a reserve ‘backer.