Kekoa Crowell no Hawai’i stranger in California

A one-yard charge with 13 seconds left on the clock gave the Pirates a 10-7 win over the Dons recently.

Freshman quarterback Kekoa Crowell, the former Kaua’i High School signal caller, carried the ball that lifted the 11-ranked Orange Coast Pirates to their victory over 8th-ranked Santa Ana in (California) Mission Conference National Division play.

The victory keeps the Pirates smack in the thick of the playoff hunt, and just a half game behind league-leading El Camino, which met Cerritos earlier this week.

Eight teams from the South make the playoffs, with three atlarge teams joining the five conference champions.

The Pirates are 2-1 in conference play, and 5-3 overall. El Camino, which leads the conference, is 3-0 in conference play and 8-0 overall. Other teams in the Mission Conference include Saddleback, Santa Ana, Cerritos, and Golden West.

Crowell, the son of Robert and Adrienne Crowell of Hanama’ulu, was a product of the Coach Kelii Morgado coaching system at Kaua’i High School, starting his high-school career in the Red Raiders’ junior-varsity program, and working steadily into the starting quarterback slot, where he finished at the helm of the Raiders as a senior.

Crowell is one of 10 Hawai’i-rooted athletes who are on the Pirates’ roster, reports the Daily Pilot of Costa Mesa, Calif., in a story penned by Barry Faulkner.

According to the Pilot, Crowell, Tommy Crowley, Jerry Ha, and Chris Assily are all Hawai’i-born starters for Coach Mike Taylor’s Pirates. Four other Hawai’i players have started at various times this season.

Taylor credits word of mouth for the growing influx of Hawaiians, who, once on campus, quickly bond with an equally large contingent of other California players of Polynesian decent.

It is a violation of California community college rules for coaches to make the first recruiting contact with players who live out of state, said the Pilot article.

Junior Tagaloa, who set school career records with 119 receptions for 2,132 yards and 22 touchdowns in 1986-87, is one of two former Pirate athletes who have become advocates for the school’s programs, and has become a mentor/advisor/surrogate father to some OCC players, including a handful of Hawaiian imports, said Faulkner. Tagaloa’s wife Wendy is a Hawai’i girl.

Taylor also cited Gary Loo, whose son Keola Loo played at OCC in 2001-02 before moving on to Washington State, as a strong Pirate advocate in Hawai’i. Crowell, Gary Loo’s nephew, said his uncle directed him toward OCC. Crowell, who said he knew early in high school that he wanted to leave the island, noted that the OCC experience has been wonderful so far. He said it kind of feels like home, because there are a lot of guys from Hawai’i.

Crowell’s mom, Adrienne Crowell, said, “When he (Kekoa) was cut from (the University of) Colorado, he was devastated.

“I remember telling him that God had something else in store for him,” she said. Now, “there’s an entire family there to watch over him! And, we find comfort in knowing that he’s well taken care of there. Junior Tagaloa and his family are awesome,” she said.

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