There’s something endearing about the two coaching Wendells in Hawaii high school football.
They’ve been around for a long while and are among the most respected guys in the coaching fraternity here. Their teams hardly ever play against each other, but they did Friday night.
We’re talking about Wendell Look of ‘Iolani and Wendell Say of Aiea, who took their teams out onto Na Alii’s rainy, puddled field for a regular-season finale.
And, despite the 30-3 final score, it was highly competitive. After two early touchdowns by the Raiders, Aiea kept it close at 16-3 until ‘Iolani finished it off with two fourth-quarter TDs.
Aiea had six takeaways to ‘Iolani’s two, but did not get it into the end zone.
Effort-wise, it was an even affair. Aiea continued to play until the end, with hard hits and a never-say-die attitude.
‘Iolani, however, rode the wave of Kaua Nishigaya, who romped for 109 rushing yards and scored three times, and Jonah Chong, who threw two TD passes.
The Raiders (8-2, 7-1 ILH D-I) will be off until Nov. 9, when they play a D-I state tournament opening-round game.
Look just finished his 28th regular season and stands at 196-132-3.
Say wrapped up his 27th season and is now 124-130-2 after finishing a 2-6-1 (2-5 OIA D-I) campaign.
The only time they’ve coached against either other was the 2009 state Division II semifinals at the Radford High field — a 21-7 Raiders victory. ‘Iolani then went on to beat Kauai 24-17 in the state final at Aloha Stadium.
Look and Say are two of only six Hawaii coaches to have coached at least 250 games, and this is only the third meeting ever between the two schools.
Here’s what Say, who is 62, had to say about Look, who is 58:
“Wendell is a good coach. We’ve coached together in some all-star games. We’re good friends, not just namesakes. He’s a good person.
“When we played them at Radford in states, they made a good comeback. It was a good game that could have gone either way. The baseball pitcher, (Jarrett) Arakawa, was their quarterback. He came up big. He got hurt and came back against us and they pulled out the win.
“Wendell always has his teams well-prepared. It was no different tonight. They’re not big compared to other teams in our league, by no means. But they’re very disciplined with what they do.
“And I know he was a typical ‘Iolani player, a good defensive player, a tough kid, not big. He was only about 5-9, 170 pounds and playing defensive end.
“It was a privilege to be honored together with Wendell by the National Football Foundation in about 2007 or 2008. In fact, I said in my speech that night what my youngest daughter said: “Do you have to be a Wendell to win an award: She also gave me another idea, so I said up there that we have a Say and we have a Look. Hear no evil, say no evil, see no evil. All we need is a Wendell Hear and we’ll be the three monkeys.”
After Friday’s game, Look had to board the team bus back to ‘Iolani, but he had enough time to talk about his friend, the other Wendell:
“We’ve known each other many, many years, even though we haven’t played against each other much. We’ve coached in all-star games and attended conferences together.
“He’s a funny guy, quiet. He seems like a professor-type of guy, he but he comes up with some stories. He tells you stories that will give you a little chill.
“You don’t have guys like Wendell any more. Nowadays, five years is a long time to coach. He’s been at it for 27.”
Look went home, and will undoubtedly be pouring over film and game-planning for states.
Say went up to the press box, microphone in hand, to personally say goodbye to his senior players and read some bio information and other fun stuff about them for parents and spectators.
It was a personal touch on something that could have easily been done by the Aiea P.A. announcer or a student, but the tireless Say stepped up and did it anyway.