Golden Hawks take flight in OIA Red West
Last in a series
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
That's because it isn't in reference to a financial situation. No, the Golden Hawks are making their debut in the O'ahu Interscholastic Association's Red Conference, the league's highest level in football since classification started in 1992.
Before Al Beaver took over as coach in 2000, Nanakuli had been a model of inconsistency. It has four winning seasons since its only OIA championship in 1983. Half of those winning seasons came when it was in the then-Blue Conference, the lowest rung of classification. There is no winning tradition like its neighbor farther up the Leeward Coast, Wai'anae High, which has won 15 OIA championships since 1970, the first year Nanakuli played as a varsity member.
"I gave myself three years to get into the Red and it kind of worked out that way," Beaver said. "I knew it was going to take hard work, like (implementing) a good off-season program. The most important thing was selling the kids to believe in me, the staff and the system."
He did it by challenging his players with Red and Interscholastic League of Honolulu teams with scrimmages and non-league games. Nanakuli scrimmaged Kamehameha and McKinley before their preseason game Friday against Damien. His teams had played Saint Louis in preseason in 2001 and 2002. But it wasn't just stiff competition that raised the standard for the Golden Hawks. The key was an attitude adjustment.
"I'm a Nanakuli boy, went to Wai'anae (High)," he said. "I told (my players) if I can make it, they can make it. It's just a matter of attitude. That's the word we kind of use this year. I tell them they need to have that positive attitude in the classroom, at home with their parents and on the football field. Never say 'never.' There's always an answer. There's always a solution."
That's why he believes sound players need sound minds.
"I told them there's a carry over in the discipline in the classroom versus the discipline on the field," Beaver said. "I told them that stupid football players don't win championships or don't even win."
The message apparently is clear on his players.
"Coach is always on our butts about getting to class on time and doing your work," said senior tailback Kyle Beck. "If you don't do your work and you don't go to class, you cannot play because you have to be a student before you can be an athlete."
Of course, not all players need a coach to get them studying. Take 6-foot-4, 310-pound senior lineman Keala Watson. He said his discipline to study was instilled from his parents when he was a youth. The result is a 1,190 SAT score and a 3.9 grade point average as a junior. Beaver said Division I schools are interested in Watson, who dreams of playing in the NFL.
"If not, I want to use my college education to get a good job," said Watson, who wants to be an architect.
With priorities in order, the Golden Hawks have other goals. The obvious is contending for the West title and then qualifying for the state tournament. They know that other White teams have been promoted to the Red, only to post a losing record the next year and get demoted. These Golden Hawks want to stick. They want to build their own winning tradition, just like their neighbors in Wai'anae.
"We want to show everybody we can compete in the Red Division, so we have to work hard," senior quarterback Albert Distajo said. "All we have to do is do our best and do what the coach tells us."
Beaver said the Red schedule is like a test. The Golden Hawks will face teams they normally missed because they had been in the lower conferences. Now, they get to play Wai'anae in a game that counts, instead of in preseason like when they met in 2000.
Even though the Golden Hawks are new to the Red, the Western Division's coaches feel they will be a contender in a race that appears to have no clear favorite. That means the Sept. 6 meeting between Nanakuli at Wai'anae will have implications it had in the 1980s. Since 1970, Nanakuli has beaten Wai'anae just once. That came in the Golden Hawks' championship year of 1983.
"There will be some inherent rivalry," Beaver acknowledged. "But I want to teach the kids that this is just a football game. I'm going to teach them as best as I can and there's only one way to play this game and that's to go hard. Be tough and be disciplined in what you do.
"But we have to worry about Roosevelt first."
The Golden Hawks kick-off their season against the Rough Riders tomorrow night at Roosevelt.
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at email@example.com or 525-8042.
OIA Red West capsules
COACH: Tumoana Kenessey, 4th season (19-9)
- OLB Ke'alii Basham (6-0, 230, Jr.)
- QB Kenny Amaral (6-2, 220, Sr.)
- DB Isaac Laupola (5-10, 170, Jr.)
- G Miles White (6-0, 270, Sr.)
- G Valasi Tagaloa (5-11, 260, Sr.)
- OLB David Veikuni (6-3, 270, Sr.)
- FS Chris Ganigan (6-0, 160, Jr.)
- TE James Bannister (6-1, 180, Jr.)
OUTLOOK: The Sabers lost most of their skill position players to graduation and are looking to quarterback Kenny Amaral for leadership of their T-formation offense, which has two returning guards in Miles White and Valasi Tagaloa ... Defensively, Campbell uses a 3-4 base, but will implement even and odd fronts. Linebackers Ke'alii Basham and David Veikuni return, as does defensive back Isaac Laupola, an OIA West all-star first-team pick ... "Hopefully, we can execute (on offense)," coach Tumoana Kenessey said. "We have to control the clock and keep the score close."
COACH: Jake Kawamata, 2nd season, 5th overall (10-25-1), including 1981, 1983-1984 at Campbell
- QB Jameson Ramiscal (5-9, 125, So.)
- WR/DB Tyrell Couch (5-11, 164, Sr.)
- DB Blake Furtado (5--8, 131, Sr.)
- DE Bernard Hay (5-11, 167, Sr.)
- FB Nelson Hernando (5-5, 180, Sr.)
- ILB Kaikoa Kinoshita (5-7, 243, Sr.)
- TB Cedric Thomas (5-10, 230, Jr.)
- ILB B.J. Fruean (5-10, 160, Jr.)
- C Pio Malagaoma (5-9, 252, Sr.)
- G Tonga Loumoli (6-1, 220, Sr.)
- T Joseph Lipano (6-4, 327, Sr.)
- T Kavan Bannigan (6-5, 325, Sr.)
- DT Reggie Nakata (6-0, 245, Sr.)
- G Freddy Ringor (6-0, 240, Sr.)
- TE Jonathan Scruggs (5-11, 232, Sr.)
OUTLOOK: The Mules use their typical two-back, I-formation to ignite their running game. But their big tailback, 5-foot-10, 230-pound junior Cedric Thomas bruised his ankle or shin on his first carry (for about 20 yards) in Friday's non-league game at Radford. Thomas led the team with 419 yards rushing and eight touchdowns last season. One of the strongest players on the team, Thomas can bench press 300 pounds five times. Coach Jake Kawamata has decided to use sophomore Jameson Ramiscal at quarterback, freeing Jonathan Scruggs to concentrate on tight end ... Defensively, the Mules' 4-3 alignment is led by linebackers Kaikoa Kinoshita and B.J. Fruean and linemen Reggie Nakata and Pio Malagaoma, who earned all-star status as an offensive lineman last year. Malagaoma also will play center.
COACH: James Millwood, 10th season (51-35-4)
- SB Aran Bisho (5-9, 150, Sr.)
- S Aaron Pooloa (6-0, 175, Jr.)
- DB Cory Lehano (5-7, 140, Sr.)
- RB Jordan Apduhan (5-6, 160, So.)
- RB Carlos Reneses (5-7, 180, Sr.)
- FB Peter Reneses (5-5, 190, Sr.)
- LB Mikhail Mabry (6-2, 225, Sr.)
- DL Jake Ingram (6-3, 190, Sr.)
- DT Kimo Duncan (5-10, 225, Sr.)
- OL Sene Ma'afala (6-2, 350, Jr.)
- OL Rob Mason (6-1, 300, Sr.)
- WR Darren Smith (6-3, 200, Sr.)
OUTLOOK: The Trojans are breaking in two new quarterbacks in junior Maka Kahoano, last year's JV starter, and senior Jared Tavares, who sat out last year. Both shared time in the 14-7 non-league win over 'Aiea. "I might do the same Friday (against Castle)," coach James Millwood said. Both have to be adept at Mililani's multiple formations that include run-and-shoot, option and counter plays. Both will have a tall target in the athletic Darren Smith (6-foot-3), an all-state goalkeeper in soccer ...Mililani's base defense is the 4-3 with safety Aaron Pooloa, lineman Jake Ingram and middle linebacker Mikhail Mabry.
Nanakuli Golden Hawks
COACH: Al Beaver, 4th season (16-11)
- OL/DL Keala Watson (6-4, 310, Sr.)
- TB/DB Kyle Beck (5-10, 155, Sr.)
- QB Albert Distajo (5-9, 160, Sr.)
- CB/WR Dominic Gomes (5-7, 155)
- C Richard Naeole (6-0, 285, Sr.)
- FS/WR Jimmy Afamasaga (6-0, 165, Sr.)
- S/TE Jeral Alapai (6-0, 185, Sr.)
- DE Rolando Celes (5-10, 190, Sr.)
OUTLOOK: The transformation of the Golden Hawks continues under fourth-year coach Al Beaver. By winning the White title last year, Nanakuli was promoted to the Western Division Red Conference for the first time since the inception of OIA classification in 1992. Beaver said playing in the Red will "give our guys more opportunities for exposure" ... With quarterback Albert Distajo and tailback Kyle Beck back, Nanakuli has experienced players for its option offense. A big blocker up front is Keala Watson, a Division I prospect, Beaver said. Watson scored 1,190 on his SAT and had a 3.9 GPA as a junior ... Defensively, Nanakuli uses a 4-3 with an athletic secondary that features safeties Jimmy Afamasaga and Jeral Alapai and end Rolando Celes.
Pearl City Chargers
COACH: Onosai Tanuvasa, 2nd season (5-3)
- TE Chazton Bertola (5-9, 185, Sr.)
- QB Jensen Cabanero (6-0, 180, Sr.)
- LB/RB Preston Chesnutt (6-3, 230, Jr.)
- DE Gabby Cuba (6-1, 215, Sr.)
- OL/DL Ross Dolfo (5-9, 250, Sr.
- DE Kealii Fuller (6-1, 230, Sr.)
- DB Steven King (6-0, 170, Jr.)
- G Ricki Morgenstein (6-1, 250, Sr.)
- SB Nathaniel Nasca (5-7, 155, Sr)
- SB/RB Michael Tanuvasa (5-7, 165, Sr.)
- OL/DL Robert Tanuvasa (6-3, 310, Sr.)
- WR Bennett Weeks (6-1, 165, So.)
- RB Michael Yamauchi-Yamate (5-7, 190, Sr.)
- WR Royce Yuen (5-11, 165, Sr.)
- SB Keone Peiper (5-7, 155, Sr.)
- OLB/S Travis Texeira (5-11, 180, Sr.)
OUTLOOK: The Chargers are making their debut in the Red since the inception of OIA classification in 1992. "It's the only way to go, knowing you're going to play the best guys," second-year Chargers coach Onosai Tanuvasa said ... Offensive coordinator Shane Tanuvasa said the Chargers will use a four-receiver set, but will shuffle an occasional two running backs into the mix. Quarterback Jensen Cabanero (48-of-105 for 642 yards, 6 TDs) will have a host of receivers in Nathaniel Nasca, Royce Yuen, Keone Peiper and Michael Tanuvasa, who was a running back last year. "Those guys are all pretty quick," Shane Tanuvasa said ... Defensively, the Chargers will lineup in a 4-3 with middle linebacker Preston Chestnutt, lineman Michael Tanuvasa, a transfer from San Diego, end Gabby Cuba and outside linebacker Travis Texeira.
COACH: Dan Matsumoto, 4th season (24-9)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
- WR Dillon Guzman (5-10, 165, Sr.)
- WR James Robinson (5-11, 160, Sr.)
- QB Uilau Faliuga (5-10, 205, Sr.)
- DB Chad Puha (5-10, 160, Jr.)
- RB Jared Laa (5-7, 155, Sr.)
- RB Chris Lave (5-8, 175, Sr.)
- DB Ronald Jimenez (5-9, 150, Sr.)
- LB Watson Mahaulu (5-8, 170, Jr.)
- DL Aaron Birn (6-0, 195, Sr.)
- DL Chris Medeiros (6-1, 290, Sr.)
OUTLOOK: The defending West co-champions will run the option behind returning starting quarterback Uilau Faliuga, who will keep, pitch or hand-off to running backs Jared Laa and Chris Lave. Wai'anae runs a base 4-3 defense anchored by linemen Aaron Birn and Chris Medeiros ... The Seariders will have to shake off their non-league loss to up-and-coming Kapolei, as they open against perennial East power Kahuku. "They took it pretty well," coach Dan Matsumoto said. "Even though it was preseason, it was still disappointing to lose to them. But that's water under the bridge. It's time to move on."
COACH: Sean Saturnio, 2nd season (4-5)
PLAYERS TO WATCH
- QB/DB Jonathan Cordeiro (5-10, 188, Jr.)
- QB/DB Austen Benito (6-0, 165, Jr.)
- RB Sandy Bishop (5-7, 190, Sr.)
- C Maifala La'a (5-11, 288, Sr.)
- SB Josh Hicks (5-5, 148, Sr.)
- SB Shane Sato (5-8, 154, Sr.)
- LB Alfred Faataape (6-0, 193, Jr.)
- DL Nu'u Sagapolutele (5-10, 237, Sr.)
- WR/DL Braddon Varde (5-9, 199, Sr.)
- SB/SS Stan Abasial (5-7, 175, Jr.)
- DL Curtis Masaniai (6-3, 292, Sr.)
- OL/DL Daniel Sei (6-0, 276, Jr.)
- OL/DL Frazer Nu'u (5-9, 295, Jr.)
OUTLOOK: The Marauders will have a number of players going two ways, especially in the early going as players sit through probation. Second-year coach Sean Saturnio's philosophy is to develop better citizens. "Instead of being a character, we want them to be people of character," he said. He said the players not only represent the school, but the Waipahu community. One of his paid assistants is Ha Hasun, who is the "academics coach." He will guide the students to prepare for college, coordinate study halls and develop mentoring groups with teachers, Saturnio said ... On the field, the Marauders will run the option with quarterbacks Jonathan Cordeiro and Austen Benito. While one is the quarterback the other will likely be in the defensive secondary. Defensively, Waipahu will show a 3-5 alignment that will take advantage of speed to overcome a lack of size. Former Oregon State player Patrick Ena, brother of Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Justin Ena, is the defensive coordinator.
This week's games
O'ahu Interscholastic Association
JV games at 5 p.m.; varsity to follow 25 minutes after JV games
Red (Division I)
- Wai'anae vs. Kahuku at Aloha Stadium
- Mililani at Castle
- Campbell at Kailua
- Nanakuli at Roosevelt
White (Division II)
- Moanalua at Kaiser
- Waialua at Radford
- Kalani vs. Kapolei at Leilehua
JV games at 4 p.m.; varsity to follow 25 minutes after JV games
Red (Division I)
- Waipahu vs. Farrington at Roosevelt
- Pearl City vs. Kaimuki at Kaiser
- Leilehua vs. McKinley at Moanalua
White (Division II)
- 'Aiea vs. Kalaheo at Kailua
Maui Interscholastic League
Both games 7:30 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium
- Lahainaluna vs. Baldwin
- Pac-Three vs. Maui
- Schurr (Montebello, Calif.) vs. Pac-Five at Kaiser, 7 p.m.
- King Kekaulike at Honoka'a, 7 p.m.
- Punahou vs. Kaua'i at Vidinha Stadium, 7 p.m.
- Iolani at Hawai'i Prep, 2 p.m.
- Kamehameha vs. Kapa'a at Vidinha Stadium, 7 p.m.