- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 19, 2006

It isn’t hard to determine where Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada’s laid back attitude comes from.

After an earthquake struck his home state of Hawaii this past weekend and knocked out power throughout the state, Kaheaku-Enhada called home to check on his family.

“My father slept through the first wave of it,” Kaheaku-Enhada said. “When I called he said, ‘Yeah, no power. It’s quiet. I like it. I am going back to sleep.’ My dad was laughing about it, but my little brother was a little hysterical.”

Kaheaku-Enhada (whose name is pronounced Kai-Po Noah Ku-Hey-Ah-Koo-Inhada), a sophomore quarterback at Navy, likely will make his first collegiate start Oct. 28 against No. 10 Notre Dame at M&T; Bank Stadium in Baltimore. With senior Brian Hampton lost for the season with a dislocated knee and three torn ligaments, the job now belongs to Kaheaku-Enhada.

Both Kaheaku-Enhada and sophomore Jarod Bryant saw action against Rutgers after Hampton got hurt, and while some people who follow the program expected some version of a competition between the two, Kaheaku-Enhada probably will start against the Irish.

“I think Roger Staubach is stopping by next week. I’m going to see if he wants to play,” Navy coach Paul Johnson smirked. “You know, I’m not worried about the quarterbacks. I guess I’m just not smart enough to worry about it. We have guys that I have confidence in and we will play and see.

“Kaipo’s probably better on the option. In my mind, unless something drastic changes, we will probably play with Kaipo. He was the No. 2 guy last week so it’s his job unless the next guy beats him out.”

Kaheaku-Enhada, whose full name is Kaipo-Noa Hiwahiwa Akahi Kaheaku-Enhada, grew up in Kapolei, a wealthy community of about 25,000 on the western side of Oahu. He didn’t play football until eighth grade because his mother wouldn’t let him. He spent free time at the beach, even waking up early to surf before school.

When he did begin to play football, Kapolei had a brand new high school and a new coach in Mike Carter, a former quarterback at Hawaii. Carter played for Johnson — then the offensive coordinator for the Warriors (then the Rainbow Warriors) — and was teammates with current Navy quarterbacks coach Ivin Jasper.

Carter installed Johnson’s option offense and Kaheaku-Enhada thrived. Eventually, Carter placed a call to his old friend Jasper. Another Navy assistant, Ken Niumatalolo, who also played quarterback for Johnson at Hawaii, is in charge with recruiting the islands for the Mids and he began to recruit Kaheaku-Enhada.

“At one point he said to me he might be interested in going to the military some day. Near the end of his junior year I made the call,” Carter said. “I thought he was exceptional. I compared him to Garrett Gabriel and that says a lot. He was a great quarterback for us at Hawaii. Once [Kaheaku-Enhada] got past the first line of defense he wasn’t being stopped very often, and as he got older he was learning the intricacies of the different types of option.”

Carter left Kapolei and eventually the team switched to more pass-heavy offense. Kaheaku-Enhada played receiver during his senior year unless the game was a blowout.

Kaheaku-Enhada’s decision came down to Air Force and Navy. He had ruled out Hawaii because they weren’t recruiting him very hard and because he wanted to be a quarterback again.

“That was how I made my decision, because of the Hawaii ties,” Kaheaku-Enhada said. “I really wanted to be around people that knew what kind of person I was. I am real laid back and I don’t get too angry and the coaches here can understand that.”

When Kaheaku-Enhada got to Navy, Johnson decided to put the freshman’s athletic ability to use at wide receiver and on special teams. Kaheaku-Enhada attempted one pass against Stanford and made five special teams tackles.

Johnson moved Kaheaku-Enhada back to quarterback in the spring, and after working through some ball-handling issues, he won the No. 2 job during fall camp.

“If you give Kaipo a seam, he’s going to go,” Jasper said. “He’s an explosive kid and if he sees a crack, he hits it and he goes. … I think with the option game he is a little more honed in [than Bryant]. As far as the passing game, he is throwing the ball better. He has improved, but it is something he still struggles with. Some days he’ll look great throwing ball — tight spirals, he’ll look like Joe Namath back there. Other days, I don’t know. Being more consistent in that part of the game is a big thing for him.”

Kaheaku-Enhada and Bryant may both play against Notre Dame. One of them could shine (Brian Madden made his first career start against the Irish in 1999 and rushed for 168 yards as the Mids nearly pulled off a dramatic upset) and take control of the job. Or the two could continue to compete for the rest of this season and beyond.

For now, the job likely belongs to Kaheaku-Enhada.

“I am trying to take it the way I have been practicing all year,” Kaheaku-Enhada said. “You don’t want to change whatever you do. We’re all doing the same thing anyway. It is just getting my timing done and everything will be fine.”

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