With school records within his reach, Juneau-Douglas High School signal caller Phillip Fenumiai has a goal.
Except it is not the goal one would expect.
“Records,” Fenumiai said dismissively. “Records are not something I am about. If I am playing in the last game of the year with my teammates, now that would be special.”
The JDHS Crimson Bears’ football team has lost a lot of size on the offensive line in the last three years, which would be unnerving for a quarterback.
“In some ways it is good and in some ways it is bad,” Fenumiai said. “It is bad in that you don’t have that size you want in o-linemen, but this year it is good because our o-linemen are a lot more mobile.”
Mobile is good for a quarterback like Fenumiai who stands six-foot-three and weights just over 200-pounds and is one of the fastest players in the Rail Belt Conference.
“Our o-linemen can do a lot more things,” Fenumiai said. “They can run with me, they can run with the backs and they are more athletic so we have more downfield blocking. We are really conditioned, and some of them play both ways.”
Fenumiai is on pace to break a number of Crimson Bears records this season.
With 4,620 yards in the air and 52 touchdowns, Fenumiai is second on the JDHS career list behind Chris Hinkley (5,132 yards and 71 touchdowns).
Fenumiai’s rushing has given him a career total yardage mark that keeps mounting.
Yet complacency has never been packed into Fenumiai’s gym bag.
As a youth he would train with his father Al, the Crimson Bears’ defensive coordinator, in various weight rooms.
“In middle school I knew I was going to always play football,” Fenumiai said. “I wanted to get my body right for football, to play in college.”
Lifting weights with his father taught Fenumiai the basics and he took that to a higher pace when his high school career began.
Intensity as a 260-pound freshman progressed into a desire to run more as a sophomore to drop weight.
“I knew I needed to look more the role of a quarterback,” Fenumiai said. “I needed to lead by example and train my hardest.”
Fenumiai’s training advanced to a college level and his body became able to withstand more hits through the season and gave him playing time on both sides of the line.
“I find it a lot more fun if I can play both offense and defense,” Fenumiai said.
This past summer was Fenumiai’s most concentrated training effort.
He attended college and elite level camps at Purdue University in Indiana, the Nike Football Training Camp in Oregon, team camp at Boise State University in Idaho, the University of Oregon Ducks football camp, two University of Washington football camps, the Northwest Top Stars Camp (viewed by college coaches and scouts) in Washington, and the All Poly Sports Camp in Texas.
“I was gone for quite a while,” Fenumiai said. “It felt like two summers.”
And when not out of town Fenumiai was in the local athletic clubs or on the tracks. Lifting, running and becoming more mobile.
“I have had some interest,” Fenumiai said. “But no solid offers yet. I am not too picky. I just want to play football. I know that is what I want to do. Given the chance I will play any position anywhere. If they want me to play safety I will play safety. Defense, I will play on defense. It doesn’t’ matter, I don’t care. I don’t even have to play quarterback. I just want to play.”
Fenumiai stated that when he can no longer play he would like to be able to coach in a younger division or possibly up to a high school coach.
“I want to give back to the community where I have learned over the years,” Fenumiai said. “When I was a little kid I looked up to all the older kids that played football. It was fun to get their advice.”
Names spill out of his memory; cousins that played, Crimson Bears that came to watch or help at JYFL games, JDHS alum that helped at practice, his father and his family.
“The atmosphere and the energy when you play in Juneau,” Fenumiai said. “That is what I will miss the most. Everybody is passionate about it. The other team is not just playing us, they are playing the whole town.”
And the whole town can combine to make a large, mobile, cheering offensive line.
“We can’t wait,” Fenumiai. “I think we have more chemistry, everybody wants it more. We would be the only team to pass through all four years and not put a trophy in the case in the high school. That is a lot of pressure and we want to live up to that. Most of the seniors, we have been together since JYFL, as long as I can remember. My first team was the Rams. That was Pee Wees, a long time ago. I was a lineman back then for sure, a bigger slower kid.”
Something Fenumiai’s linemen are not this season, and something that will allow the Crimson Bears, and Fenumiai, to put up a number of new records.
“Hopefully that is something that will just come along with my playing,” Fenumiai said. “I am not about that. The only thing that is really important to me is winning that state championship with my teammates. That is the only goal I really want to accomplish this year.”