Wildcats Have New Quarterback, Same Sense of Confidence

The Paloma Valley Wildcats will go head to head with players from JW North Friday night. For the ...

The Paloma Valley Wildcats will go head to head with players from JW North Friday night.
For the last three years, Brent Boehm was synonymous with football at Paloma Valley High School. Ask anyone the name of the Wildcats' quarterback and you got that simple answer, in just two syllables: Brent Boehm, a model of consistency.

Paloma Valley coach Bert Esposito knows it might take folks a while to forget what Boehm did for the Wildcats. He knows for darn sure that the new quarterback's name will take a bit longer to remember.

"We just call him Pohaku," Esposito said.

His full name is Raine Pohaku Kaheaku-Paiva -- a 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior who grew up in Hawaii. If the PA announcer is smart, he will follow the players' lead and refer to him simply as Pohaku. If opposing players are smart, they will keep a close eye on the skilled playmaker.

Esposito has named Pohaku (left) his starting quarterback entering Friday's 7 p.m. season opener at JW North High of Riverside, choosing to move senior Jake Newton to the wideout position. Pohaku's performance in preseason workouts and in a scrimmage last week convinced the coach to give him the job.

"They'll both play," Esposito said. "Jake will start at the tight end position, which we really don't call tight end; it's a flex outside position. He'll do a lot for us out there.

"Pohaku is one of those guys who, when the pocket breaks down, he makes things happen. He makes plays out of nothing. In the scrimmage, he did a great job of keeping his eyes downfield."

That in itself could remind one of Boehm, who passed for 6,390 yards and 71 touchdowns in his high school career. He became famous for moving the ball downfield quickly and finding any open receiver for big gains.

Esposito no longer has Boehm or wide receiver Michael Valencia, but he sees the potential for a similar combination in Pohaku and senior Jacob Diaz, a transfer from Rancho Christian High in Temecula. Diaz (5-11, 180) will play wide receiver and safety and should be a solid target for Pohaku's passes.

The Wildcats went 5-0 in nonleague play in each of the last two seasons, leading to high expectations that they will once again get off to a fast start and mount another challenge to defending Sunbelt League champion and crosstown rival Heritage High. Esposito isn't looking down the road, but he knows the success of past Wildcat teams has bred a sense of confidence in incoming players.

"As a team, we know we have an offense that's difficult to stop," Esposito said about the Wildcats' high-powered spread offense. "So there is a level of confidence. You're never going to completely shut us down. The thing is, we need to have more stops on defense. We have a little more size, but we need to build up the defensive line."

When the Wildcats run the ball, they can give it to one of two talented returning backs. Junior Demarco Prewitt (right) rushed for 1,322 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. Senior Elliott Smith rushed for 287 yards and 2 scores before going down with a torn ACL.

"Demarco is a man child," Esposito said. "He's matured so much off the field. He's really serious about his future; he hit the weight room hard. Demarco is the guy and he knows it, but he's not cocky. He also worked on his speed. He got his 100-meter time down from a 12.2 to 11.8."

Esposito said Smith "worked his butt off" to get back in shape after the injury.

"He weighs about 155, but he can squat over 400 and bench 320," Esposito said. "We held him out of the scrimmage, but he's as close to full-strength as he can be."

Paloma Valley's home opener will take place Sept. 5 against Clackamas High of Oregon. Both teams had holes in their schedule and Clackamas coaches wanted to bring their players on a California trip, so they will be here for the Wildcats' second game.


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