FIFTH IN A SERIES
This summer, head coaches from all 28 Oahu high school varsity football teams are being asked to recount their football playing days.
One coach who has already been interviewed for this multi-part series pointed out what he thinks may be the value of this endeavor:
“A lot of times, you only hear about coaches when they’re getting released or are having a special season. It’s super hard to have a special season, so this should shed more light on them as people and their journey of when they were student-athletes. It’s going to bring more respect to the people who are doing this job. They didn’t all of a sudden become a high school coach because they coached Pop Warner. These guys have gone through it all, they’ve run the gamut of experiences.”
Some made it to the NFL. Others went to big colleges. Still others went the small-college route. They started as young’uns and got the bug, falling in love with football and taking pride in passing on their knowledge.
Along with the coaches’ look-back at their football-playing pasts, they also give their outlook on where their programs are at heading into the 2019 season.
COACH KALE ANE AND THE 2019 PUNAHOU BUFFANBLU
Kale Ane was the last guy on the team and had to switch uniforms with others. And he didn’t suit up every week.
That was when he was in fourth grade, playing Pop Warner in Kailua.
“I progressed to playing in eighth grade, barefoot football for Punahou,” he said. “We had four teams — internal teams playing against each other. That was just fun.”
Through that time, he was a defensive tackle and then a linebacker.
“The first time I put on a helmet and shoes, it was ninth grade JV football and I played linebacker and offensive lineman.”
And then Ane’s storybook got really going. The 1971 Punahou graduate played center for Michigan State and then six years with the Kansas City Chiefs and one with the Green Bay Packers. Among his NFL head coaches were Marv Levy and Bart Starr.
Ane can rattle off the top moments at each level.
In high school, it was beating Saint Louis for the ILH championship his senior year. In college, it was beating Ohio State when the Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 in the country his senior year.
“I made if to the NFL,” he said. “I didn’t know I was going to make it, so when I found out, that was pretty special. One of Kansas City’s Hall of Fame players, (defensive back) Emmitt Thomas, came up to congratulate me. That was pretty nice — to be at that stature and say congrats to a rookie.”
Ane said (offensive tackle) Jim Nicholson, who was also from Hawaii, made sure that the veterans did not mess with the rookies.
“It was an older club,” the coach said. “After practice, they wanted to get away from the field and not have anything to do with the rookies.”
Ane is proud of the fact that he came from the islands and he had that burning desire to prove himself.
“I always felt like I was an underdog,” he said. “Everybody was saying I was too small, too slow, not big enough. To prove them wrong was a huge motivator. When you are representing Hawaii, you can’t back down. It was no different for Marcus (Mariota) or Manti (Te’o) or anybody else. We can’t back down. We can’t make foolish mistakes. We are held to a different standard. And we all acknowledge that when we see each other.”
During his second year in the NFL, Ane went to a golf tournament on the Neighbor Islands featuring some NFL players.
“Russ Francis called me and asked me to come over because they didn’t have enough NFL players,” Ane said. “I was worried about staying in shape and figured I’d run the golf course. I went out when it was still dark at about 6 a.m. and I was complaining that nobody else was there. And then, I see four guys coming back — smoke (moisture) coming off their skin. They came up to me. They were two guys who ended up in the Hall of Fame and two guys who made All-Pro.
“They said, ‘What are you doing?’ OK, so now I’m embarrassed. They said, ‘We run at 5. Be here tomorrow.’ That was an incredible experience to see what it takes. They just did it. They didn’t tell anybody else. Yet, they get up. I was there at 4:45 the next day.”
One of those players, Ane said, was Gene Upshaw, the Oakland Raiders’ offensive lineman who became a Hall of Famer.
Ane followed the path of his father, Charlie Ane, a center and offensive lineman who starred at USC and was a two-time NFL champion with the Detroit Lions in the 1950s.
“My dad was a big guy,” the son said. “He is in six Halls of Fame. Everybody knows who he is. He was really good at not being overburdening or micromanaging me. He made me do things if I wanted to do them.”
After his NFL days, Kale Ane coached at Radford and then went to coach under Dan Morrison at Punahou.
“That was a great chance to come back to be a part of my alma mater,” he said.
Ane, who is about to begin his 21st season as the Buffanblu’s head man, was a longtime Punahou assistant who spent some time as head coach Bob Wagner‘s strength and conditioning coach at the University of Hawaii.
With 30-plus seniors back for this fall, Punahou wants to take a crack at the ILH championship that eluded them in a 45-21 ILH title game loss to Saint Louis.
“It was exciting to be part of interleague play last year,” Ane said. “We really enjoyed going out to different campuses to play — going back and getting the total high school experience. It was like Friday Night Lights, different places, new experiences. It was really great for all of us.
“I thought we did well and learned a lot last year. We had a great bunch of kids and I will miss all of them. We’ve got a good group of kids coming back and we hope to be as prepared as possible to play up to our potential. We want everybody to play as well as possible, to learn how to deal with adversity, to know that if you make a mistake, you can recover. That’s what coaches look for. It’s a big key because you are going to make mistakes whether you want to or not. We want to be as ready as possible. That’s our job as coaches — to help the kids get there. Team chemistry is huge and the margin of error is always small. We want them to be able to be internally motivated, to learn, to watch film, to ask questions, to do all of their running. It’s about the collaboration of players and coaches.”
2019 PUNAHOU BUFFANBLU AT A GLANCE
>> 2018 record and finish: 7-3 (5-2 ILH Open); defeated Kamehameha 35-0 in ILH Open playoffs; lost to Saint Louis 45-21 in ILH Open championship game
>> Head coach Kale Ane’s staff:
— Leonard Lau (offensive coordinator)
— Keola Cheng (offensive advisor)
— Alaka’i Aglipay (running backs)
— John Morris (quarterbacks)
— Jordan Caires (passing game)
— Nate Kia (offeneive line)
— William Moeawa (offensive line)
— Miah Ostrowski (wide receivers)
— Anthony DeBold (linebackers)
— Cullen Pang (defensive line)
— Keith Oda (defensive line)
— Kynan Pang (outside linebackers)
— Agenhart Ellis (defensive backs)
— Punahou Aina (special teams)
— Teetai Ane (strength coach)
>> Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State selections returning: Koa Eldredge (second-team REC), Alaka’i Gilman (second-team safety), Solatoa Moeai (third-team OL), Hugh Brady (third-team QB).
>> Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State selections lost to graduation: Tamatoa Falatea (first-team REC), Duke Clemens (first-team OL), Marist Liufau (first-team UTL), Maninoa Tufono (second-team LB), Tim Horn (second-team punter), Kaulana Makaula (second-team utility), Trent Shiraki (third-team linebacker), Kainalu Puu-Robinson (third-team cornerback).
>> Players with Division I FBS college offers: Solatoa Moeai, Sr., OL, 6-4, 290; Alaka’i Gilman, Sr., DB, 5-1, 190; Hugh Brady, Sr., QB, 6-3, 200, Koa Eldredge, Sr., WR, Punahou, 6-0, 185; Tevarua Tafiti, So., DE, 6-2, 185.
>> Among key returnees: Legend Matautia, Sr., LB, 6-0, 240
>> All-time state championships: 2 (both D-I, 2008, 2013)
>> All-time Prep Bowl (1973-1998) championships: None
>> All-time ILH championships: 26 (all D-I, including 1 co-championship*): 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1919, 1920, 1953, 1954, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1970*, 1971, 1976, 1977, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
>> 2019 conference: ILH Open
COMING NEXT IN “GLORY DAYS”:
Part Six: Coach Mike Fanoga and the 2019 Waianae Seariders
Previously in the series:
>> Coach Darren Johnson and the 2019 Campbell Sabers
>> Coach John Hao and the 2019 Castle Knights
>> Coach Eddie Klaneski and the 2019 Damien Monarchs
>> Coach David Tautofi and the 2019 Kaimuki Bulldogs