25th 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 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 KIP BOTELHO AND THE 2019 PAC-FIVE WOLFPACK
When Don Botelho is your father, there’s a good chance you will become a football player.
For Kip Botelho, that’s exactly what happened. He played for father Don at Pac-Five and then coached with him there.
Before that, Kip Botelho played for the Kaimuki Eagles in Pop Warner.
“I was introduced to football at an early age,” he said. “My dad was the head coach at Damien from 1965 to 1973, I think it was. As soon as I could walk, I was at the field, watching practice and hanging out and playing around on the field.
“As soon as I was old enough to play, I rode my bike down to the field and asked the (Pop Warner) coach if I could play. They told me I gotta get my parents to sign me up. After a couple of days and my begging, my mom finally signed me up. That was the start of three years with the Kaimuki Eagles.”
A 1980 Mid-Pacific graduate, Botelho played JV in his freshman year and varsity the next three.
“My dad was my varsity coach and let me tell you, that was no picnic,” Botelho said. “He used to get on my case every day. At first, I didn’t understand why. I figured it out, though, that he didn’t want to show favoritism. I used to get so upset. In practice, I would catch 10 passes in a row and drop one and then I would hear his voice, ‘Come on Botelho. You don’t know how to catch. Keep your eyes on the ball. ”
Botelho was fortunate to start his first varsity game, when the starting defensive back, Guy Seto, got injured.
“It was frightening, yet exciting to be starting in your first game,” he said.
As a junior and senior, Botelho played slot receiver and defensive back. The Wolfpack quarterback was Eric Morales.
Botelho remembers playing against friends who developed into rivals with the Manoa Paniolos in his Pop Warner years. At least four of them ended up at Kamehameha — fullback Malcolm Lutu, defensive back Carter Kamana, running back Boyd Yap and defensive end Waipa Parker — and that friendly rivalry continued.
Parker is on the current Pac-Five intermediate team staff.
“In fact, we’re all good friends today,” Botelho said.
When Botelho was a senior in the 1979 season, the Pac-Five program started to become a contender.
“We broke through,” he said. “It was our first winning season. We ended up 8-4 and played Kamehameha for the ILH championship and lost by three points. What’s funny during that game was we were attempting a field goal to tie it with seconds left. Parker, at defensive end, blocked it.”
Two years later, in 1981 (when Botelho was in college) Pac-Five won the ILH second-round title and played for the overall title and lost. But the upswing was on. The Wolfpack then won Oahu Prep Bowls in 1982 and 1985, both with Botelho on his father’s staff.
“My highlight in high school as a player was one game when I had three interceptions against Saint Louis and six receptions for 90 yards and I was named the player of the week,” he said.
“One thing that we always talk about is we played Kaiser in the preseason and beat them and they went on to to go undefeated the rest of the way and beat Kamehameha in the Prep Bowl,” Botelho said. “I’ve got a lot of friends who were on that Kaiser team. I live in Hawaii Kai. We say, ‘You guys won the Prep Bowl, but you didn’t beat us.’ They would come back and say, ‘We got the ring.’ ”
Botelho ended up playing at Merced College with many of those Kaiser players — defensive lineman Robert Bucknam, receiver Wendell Miranda, offensive lineman Orrin Kahalewai, defensive lineman James Kahalewai and linebackers Brian Spencer and Lyle Saffery.
Yap was a Cougars running back that year, having transferred for his senior season from Kamehameha. Rich Miano, who went on to play at the University of Hawaii and in the NFL and coached Kaiser to the 2013 Division II state championship, was a safety.
Among Botelho’s teammates on the Wolfpack in that 1979 season were All-State receiver Leroy Lutu (Malcolm Lutu’s cousin) and one of Botelho’s best friends — running back Quincy McCray.
Botelho also recalls some big-name players at Punahou at that time, including offensive lineman Mark Tuinei, quarterback Darryl Gabriel, and running back John Kamana.
“Tuinei played for like 16 years with the Dallas Cowbooys,” Botelho said. “It was frightening to be on the field around him because he was so massive. Kamana played for USC and the Rams.”
Instead of walking on at UH, Botelho went the junior college route.
“Freshman year at Merced, I remember going out for DB and it was a little intimidating,” he said. “There were guys wearing their All-State jackets from all over the country — 30 guys going out for 12 positions. It was eye-opening, but I went through the grind and ended up starting at free safety. I did well.”
In his second year, Botelho moved to cornerback.
“It was a good experience being away from home, on your own,” he added. “I kind of grew up a little more. I had a few moments in college. I made player of the week once when I had two interceptions and a bunch of tackles. I remember being honored at the Elks Club, with the grand poobah and all the members wearing those hats. It was a pretty fun experience.”
Botelho walked on at UH for his final two years of eligibility.
“One spring at UH, I was running at second-team corner and I tore my ACL,” he said. “After that, I was pretty much done. That’s how I got into coaching.”
Botelho started coaching the DBs for his dad in 1982 and has been with the Wolfpack ever since. He took over for Don Botelho as head coach to start the 2004 season.
Kip Botelho has keen memories of the the two Prep Bowl championship teams.
“In 1982, we were a running team with big kids,” he said. “Joe Onosai was the fullback. He was 6-3, 220 in high school. That team was a smashball type of team, with a good defense. My DC now, Junior Pale, was a defensive lineman on that team.”
Among the others on that team were linebackers Ricky Andrews (who went on to play in the NFL) and Rodney Leota, and tight-end/linebacker Eddie Hayashi, who was eventually part of Botelho’s staff for several years.
“The 1985 team was a totally different team, a full-on passing team,” Botelho said. “Garrett Gabriel was the quarterback, George Smith was the top receiver. That year we had Pio Sagapolutele (who went on to play for San Diego State, the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots). Pio came back and coached on our staff for a few years. Allan Villamor was also on that team and he is currently on our staff as our offensive line coach.”
On the first play of the game in the 1985 Prep Bowl, the Wolfpack scored on a sweep reverse pass for a TD, with five players from five different schools touching the ball.
According to Botelho, center Ron Clark from Hawaii Baptist centered the ball to Gabriel from Maryknoll. He tossed the ball on a sweep to running back Otis Johnson from University High, who handed the ball off on a reverse to wide receiver Smith from Academy of the Pacific. Smith then threw a 71-yard touchdown pass to slotback Terrance Hempelman from Mid-Pacific.
Botelho is proud of the fact that his team was in every game a year ago. He’s looking for that same effort this year.
“Last year, we were young with 40 sophomores and a quarterback who never played the position before,” he said. “I was happy with the outcome because they were so young. The games we lost were by a touchdown or less.”
With 30 returnees, Pac-Five is ahead of the pace from last year at this point.
“We’re concerned with a lack of depth up front, but that’s where we’re focused on getting better,” the coach said.
“With kids from all over the place at different schools, the number one thing is commitment. We’re trying to get 100 percent commitment every day. That’s what we preach. Without that we can’t move forward with other things we want to do.”
After commitment comes discipline, unity and trust, according to Botelho.
“Those are our goals in the beginning of the season,” he said. “We would rather be consistently good than occasionally great. We want the kids to compete in everything they do and be coachable, pay attention, focus and make the adjustments.
“We want to win every game we play, that’s what we’re playing for, especially this year since we can’t go to the playoffs (due to a rule stating that a league needs at least two representatives from a conference to qualify for states.)”
About the future of becoming eligible for states, Botelho said, “If we gotta move up to D-I (where there are two other ILH schools), we will. We just want to have an opportunity. It’s not fair and it’s not the kids’ fault that we are the only ILH team in Division II. If we step up, I think the kids will step up. We want to have a goal to play for. It’s tough enough getting kids motivated every day. The good thing is they’re not bothered by it. They don’t talk about it. Nobody is hanging their lower lip.”
2019 PAC-FIVE WOLFPACK AT A GLANCE
>> 2018 record and finish: 4-5, 4-4 ILH Division II
>> Head coach Kip Botelho’s staff:
— Junior Pale (defensive coordinator)
— Chris Bisho (co-offensive coordinator, offensive line)
— Gabe Nehl (co-offensive coordinator, quarterbacks)
— Derek Tengan (running backs, special teams)
— Alan Villamor (offensive line)
— Chris Lupenui (receivers)
— Jason Anzai (receivers)
— Travis Kaloa (receivers)
— James McClure (defensive line)
— Robert Walker (defensive line)
— Clyde Carvalho (linebackers)
— Keola Bradley (linebackers)
— Kaipo Pale (defensive backs)
— Mike Miura (defensive backs)
— Dean Kashiwabara (speed and quickness)
>> Approximate varsity and intermediate numbers: 59 varsity, 35 intermediate
>> Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State selections returning: None
>> Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State selections lost to graduation: Leif Fauntau (third-team OL)
>> Players with Division I FBS college offers: None
>> Among 2019 key returnees: Laitin Bradley, Sr., LB/RB 5-10, 188; Alex Heim, Sr., DB/WR, 5-9, 150; Max Torcia-Burke, Sr., OL/DL, 6-4, 218; Ian Canute, Sr., RB 5-7, 155; Angelo Coluccio, Jr., WR, 6-0, 155.
>> All-time state championships: None
>> All-time Prep Bowl (1973-1998) championships: 2 (both D-I — 1982, 1985)
>> All-time ILH championships: 2 (both D-I — 1982, 1985)
>> 2019 conference: ILH Division II
COMING NEXT IN “GLORY DAYS”:
Part 26: Coach Darren Hernandez and the 2019 Kapolei Hurricanes
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
>> Coach Kale Ane and the 2019 Punahou Buffanblu
>> Coach Mike Fanoga and the 2019 Waianae Seariders
>> Coach Bryson Carvalho and the 2019 Waipahu Marauders
>> Coach Mark Kurisu and the 2019 Leilehua Mules
>> Coach Pat Silva and the 2019 McKinley Tigers
>> Coach Kili Watson and the 2019 Nanakuli Golden Hawks
>> Coach Tim Seaman and the 2019 Kaiser Cougars
>> Coach Daniel Sanchez and the 2019 Farrington Governors
>> Coach Scott Melemai and the 2019 Kalani Falcons
>> Coach Lincoln Barit and the 2019 Waialua Bulldogs
>> Coach Savaii Eselu and the 2019 Moanalua Na Menehune
>> Coach Wendell Say and the 2019 Aiea Na Alii
>> Coach Sterling Carvalho and the 2019 Kahuku Red Raiders
>> Coach Abu Maafala and the 2019 Kamehameha Warriors
>> Coach Wendell Look and the 2019 ‘Iolani Raiders
>> Coach Robin Kami and the 2019 Pearl City Chargers
>> Coach Fred Salanoa and the 2019 Radford Rams
>> Coach Kui Kahooilihala and the 2019 Roosevelt Rough Riders
>> Coach Cal Lee and the 2019 Saint Louis Crusaders
>> Coach Darrell Poole and the 2019 Kalaheo Mustangs