The players have been working out relentlessly.
Consistently. In roughly one month, they’ll be heading to California for opportunity. The format created by host Winner Circle Athletics and football players from Hawaii will be similar to the PTP College Showcase held in Utah last fall.
There will be no official game format, no score on the scoreboard, but the 1v1, 5v5, 7v7 and 11v11 battles will be fully padded, as they were in Utah. There will be no special teams as many of the top prospects of Hawaii and SoCal engage. College coaches will evaluate the showcase, as well as the combine scheduled the day before.
“It’s a showcase. Everybody’s trying to show their talent. It’s more of an individual thing, but we’ll be representing Hawaii as a unit,” Trench Dawgz Coach Whitley Fehoko said. “Everyone’s going up of their own free will, just giving these kids something while they’re on idle. The seniors, more so.”
There will be 35 spots open for Hawaii players, all to be confirmed through Trench Dawgz, a training group. Fehoko’s relationship with Jordan Campbell of Winner Circle led to the creation of this event.
“Winner Circle is trying to limit it because of COVID. It’s not at a public park. It’s a private facility, so it’s way more safer. You can only be there if you’re invited. Parents, coaches and players only,” Fehoko said.
Most of the Trench Dawgz come from public schools, where the postponed football season was cancelled. Meanwhile, the private-school Interscholastic League of Honolulu plans to begin its postponed football season in 12 days — Feb. 22. If that date is not pushed back, ILH players won’t be able to play in the showcase. One of the 10 Dawgz affected would be defensive standout Tevarua Tafiti of Punahou. Other TD players, like Kaeo Akana of Roosevelt, have no high school football season and are unaffected.
On Oahu, new case numbers have declined significantly with 21 new cases announced on Monday and 20 on Tuesday with no deaths statewide. The existing City and County of Honolulu tiered system requires 20 or fewer new cases for a seven-day period (Tier 4) before organized youth sports can restart.
One way or another, there will be football for those seeking it.
“If you feel like your junior is going to be idle, college coaches will be there at the combine. It’s a great chance to get on the stat sheet, and it’s free. They only thing they have to earn is the invite,” Fehoko said. “It’s strictly opportunity. I don’t benefit.”
Fehoko doesn’t have any children playing for the Dawgz, who lift, run and work out several times per week.
“I don’t get a dime. Thank God my wife (Mau) lets me go to workouts,” he said. “It comes down to time. It’s going by and these kids can never get it back.”
Aside from parents, players and coaches, the only other people on the premises will be carrying camera equipment. Winner Circle’s football league is being filmed for a Netflix docuseries. According to a December, 2020 article on NBC Palm Springs’ site, “Netflix purchased two plots of land in Riverside County and are funding to build football fields so this league can have a place to play.”
With high school sports in California shut down by the state — postponed by the CIF twice — Winner Circle has gained traction and momentum, even as the City of Chino sent a list of violations to the group. The state lifted stay-at-home restrictions last week and the governor expressed some optimism for the reopening of organized youth and high school sports.
WCA leases property in Chino, where games are played on one field. No bleachers and no goal posts.