This head coach has been at his program for decades, a stickler and lifer for the community and school.
Lincoln Barit has been with Waialua through pretty much a generation of players, wise and low key through all the ups and downs over the years. The past few seasons have been different in one respect. Barit decided to shutter the Waialua JV football program and have healthy numbers at the varsity level rather than struggle to avoid extreme problems in each.
“When we shut down the JV program, that helped,” he said.
It’s not unusual. Hawaii Prep used a similar approach to challenge for titles on the Big Island over the decades. At both programs, necessity was the mother of invention. For Barit, the current class of seniors were the first to experience Waialua’s straight-to-varsity expressway. Barit sees that necessity paying off now. He has a strong group, perhaps one of the strongest senior and junior crews since the days of quarterback Caleb Fore a dozen seasons ago.
From versatile junior lineman/specialist Matthan Hatchie to senior receiver/cornerback Lancen Kuni — who had two offensive TDs and one defensive TD in Saturday’s 33-8 win over McKinley — Barit is enjoying the maturity that comes with 22 seniors on the roster. Dayton Kaopua-Lee was one of several key stoppers defensively, solidifying a unit that is stocked with seniors. Waialua had five sacks against the rapidly improving Tigers, including four in the first half.
A whole lot of ninth and 10th graders dot that same roster, but the influence of older players has made a lasting impact on the youngsters.
Next season, there will be just six returning seniors, but among them will be talented QB Tevesi Toia. For now, the Bulldogs (4-2) are preparing for a regular-season finale with first-place Pearl City. Depending on how the final weekend shakes out, Waialua may need all the wins it can muster to qualify for the OIA D-II playoffs.
That heavy senior and junior leadership keeps coming through.