WAILUKU - Anthony Kahoohanohano-Davis is named after a Medal of Honor winner from one side of the family, and is the son of a refugee from Liberia from the other.
Tonight at War Memorial Stadium, on statewide television, he will play a large role for the Baldwin High School football team when the Bears (6-4) take on Farrington (8-3) in a First Hawaiian Bank Division I State Championship quarterfinal.
The ever-smiling Kahoohano-hano-Davis caught four passes, one for a touchdown, in the Maui Interscholastic League season, but it is his play at safety where he stands out for the fourth-seeded Bears.
Anthony Kahoohanohano-Davis helped Baldwin High School earn a No. 4 seed in this year’s Division I state football tournament.
The Maui News / ROBERT COLLIAS photo
Never was that more evident than in a 7-0 victory over Maui High on Sept. 28, when Kahoohanohano-Davis ran down Tyson Takabayashi at the Baldwin 14-yard line after a 50-yard reception midway through the third quarter.
"They snapped the ball and I saw him run past me - he was, like, 10, 15 yards ahead of me and I didn't know what to do," Kahoohanohano-Davis said. "So, I just started chasing him and he caught the ball. I told myself, 'I can't let this guy score.' I tackled him and it felt great."
The Sabers then missed a field goal, and Baldwin scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
First Hawaiian Bank
State football Championships
No. 4 Baldwin vs. Farrington at War Memorial Stadium, 6 p.m.
No. 3 Hilo vs. Campbell at Keaau, 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 15
No. 1 Punahou vs. Baldwin-Farrington winner at Aloha Stadium, time TBA
No. 2 Mililani vs. Hilo-Campbell winner at Aloha Stadium, time TBA
Saturday, Nov. 23
Semifinal winners at Aloha Stadium, 7 p.m.
No. 3 Kauai vs. Pearl City at Vidinha Stadium, 2 p.m.
Konawaena at No. 4 Kaiser, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 16
Kauai-Pearl City winner at No. 2 Iolani, 2 p.m.
Kaiser-Konawaena winner vs. No. 1 Lahainaluna at War Memorial Stadium, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 23
Semifinal winners at Aloha Stadium, 4 p.m.
"That was my biggest tackle of the year," Kahoohanohano-Davis said.
His grandfather, Chico Kahoo-hanohano, has told the 15-year-old about Anthony Kahoohanohano, a great uncle who was killed in the Korean War and awarded the Medal of Honor in 2011.
Anthony Kahoohanohano was a standout football player at St. Anthony in the 1940s.
"I know he was a big man, my grandpa told me a lot of stories about him when
he was young," Kahoohanohano-Davis said. "He told me he was a really good football player. It was a really big honor for the family. I'm really proud that he was my uncle."
On the other side of the family, Desmond Davis, Anthony's father, was the eldest of 12 children growing up in war-torn Liberia. The family escaped to America when Davis was 16.
"He said it was really hard at times," Kahoohanohano-Davis said. "He didn't get scared - he couldn't show that to his siblings because he had to take care of them. He told me about walking down the street and he saw this guy getting shot at and he was shocked and he had to start running.
"Both sides of my family make me very proud. I feel like I am carrying my uncle's name and making a statement for my whole family."
On a defense led by linebackers Teva Eldridge, a senior, and Nohea Keahi, a junior, Kahoohanohano-Davis has also been key, along with fellow sophomore defensive backs Taje Akaka-Foster and Kawena Alo-Kaonohi.
Baldwin coach Keneke Pacheco said Wednesday that Akaka-Foster will start at quarterback after throwing the ball just eight times during the MIL season.
"Those senior guys have taught me a lot, taught me how to not be scared, go after everybody, get at it," Kahoohanohano-Davis said. "Me and Taje talk about how far we have come and we still have two more years ahead of us."
Pacheco said, "(Kahoohanohano-Davis) has been valuable for us, he's a good kid, he's always smiling, showing his teeth. He comes with a lot of talent and he has a lot of confidence in his game, so I'm excited for him to be part of Baldwin High football. He is one of those young ones that we can build this football team on."
Tonight's winner will face top-seeded Punahou at Aloha Stadium on Nov. 15.
"We want all of our young guys to get good state playoffs experience," Pacheco said. "We want to build off of this. We want to win, don't get me wrong, but we want to use this as a building block for our future."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org