Former Ka‘u football player Robin Gomes recalled the years — decades — of losing to Konawaena, but his older brother Jeff, actually enjoyed the most recent victory by the Trojans over the Wildcats back in 1977.
When the Trojans ended that losing streak by toppling Konawaena over the weekend, 12-0, former players could finally breathe a sigh of relief.
“In 1977, we had a huge team, like almost 40 guys,” former player Jeff Gomes said. “We beat everybody in the first half (of the season). We even beat Hilo. But we had attitudes. Guys stopped coming to practice. Our halfback quit.”
Then-coach Bobby Barba stood his ground, but the Trojans fell apart in the latter half of the season. What could’ve been a promising ’78 season was derailed before it could begin.
“The following year, the seniors flunked out,” Gomes said of the first year of the DOE’s 2.0 grade-point minimum.”
Reduced to 20 underclassmen, the school cancelled the season for safety reasons.
“I was 145 pounds,” Gomes said of his sophomore season, “and I was one of the biggest guys.”
The Big Island Interscholastic Federation penalized the program with a two-year probation at the varsity level. Suddenly, Gomes’ high school career was over.
He’s now a woodworker in Hilo, reveling in the win over Konawaena.
“It’s awesome for the entire Ka‘u community and for all the alumni that are around the world,” said Robin Gomes, who was not quite in high school yet when the Trojans, including his brother Jeff, beat Konawaena.
Robin, like many of his teammates, now lives away from his home town. He’s a graphic artist in Honolulu.
“It’s such a small, tight-knit community. Everyone pretty much knows everyone.”
The same goes with Jeff.
“People ask me where I’m from, I tell ‘em, ‘I’m from Ka‘u.’ ”
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser