Hilo’s football team is currently on its best run in program history, reaching the last two HHSAA Division I finals after having never done so before 2017.
The Vikings prevailed 35-19 over Damien in 2017 before falling to Waipahu 42-22 in 2018. In retrospect, coach Kaeo Drummundo saw a young and inexperienced squad that fateful day last November at Aloha Stadium.
As the team turns the page to 2019 with most of its young core back, that inexperience has turned into a seasoned group with high expectations. Voters for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser prep football poll seemed to agree with that sentiment, ranking the Vikings as the ninth best team in the state, regardless of division. The Star-Advertiser Top 10 countdown story can be read here.
“Hopefully the players are hungry to get back to states but it’s going to take a lot of work over the next several months and a lot of progression,” Drummundo said. “We’ll take it a day at a time and try to build a strong foundation and just go from there.”
Ten players with starting experience return on defense, led by 2018 Star-Advertiser All-State second-team selection Kalen White at middle linebacker. On offense, Kilohana Haasenritter joins after transferring from Kamehameha-Hawaii following his junior season.
The 2018 BIIF Division II offensive player of the year joins a Vikings offense that already featured the reigning BIIF Division I offensive player of the year in Kyler Aguiar. Together, the two could potentially form one of the top receiving tandems in the state.
“Kilo’s a great talent and we’re very talented on offense,” Drummundo said. “It’s just trying to transition him in and getting him to feel comfortable.”
In May, Haasenritter made the rounds on social media after tweeting a scholarship offer made by Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich. In June, Haasenritter decided to take UH up on the offer and announced his commitment to suit up for the Rainbow Warriors, where he’ll see time as a running back and a slot.
“In that moment, I just couldn’t explain it,” Haasenritter said of receiving the offer. “It was just hard to fathom because I was so excited to have the opportunity and just God blessing me and my family helping me through this whole process. All the work that I put in just paid off. It was just a bunch of joy for me.”
With one year of high school football left, Haasenritter acknowledged that joining a talented Hilo team could lead to finishing his prep career with a state title. Ultimately, he also hopes his new teammates will find success in other areas off the field as well.
“As a team goal, I believe states is one of them. That would be just a mission complete,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we just know that there’s a lot of future goals, a lot of young men going on a journey and it’s just a stepping stone for all of us for future success hopefully.”
While Drummundo doesn’t shy away from discussing the big picture, he prefers a day-by-day approach. With that, he hopes the small steps lead to the ultimate prize at the end.
“To be totally honest, we try to be real short-sighted,” he said. “I want to just worry about today, tomorrow. Those long term goals, they’ll take care of themselves if we take care of our business each and every day. We work hard in the summer, we lift weights.
“If we attack those workouts the way we’re supposed to, attack our practices the way we’re supposed to, learn our schemes, learn our techniques, learn how to communicate, learn how to play for your brothers out there on the football field, those long term goals will be out there waiting for you, but we have to take care of what we can take care of today to even put yourself in a situation to capitalize when they’re there.”
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Top 10 preseason football countdown continues on Friday with No. 8.
>> No. 10 ‘Iolani