GLORY DAYS: Coach Mike Fanoga and the 2019 Waianae Seariders

New Waianae football coach Mike Fanoga played at UTEP in the mid-1980s and has coached at more than 10 different colleges. Photo courtesy Mike Fanoga.


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.

Mike Fanoga as a senior at UTEP. Photo courtesy UTEP athletics.



Mike Fanoga is all about discipline.

Ask him about what makes a team click, he’ll say that word. Ask him about what his overall goal in reaching a player is, he’ll say that word.

So, it pretty much goes without saying that new Waianae football coach isn’t going to be enthralled with players showing up late or not doing the right things.

Not that Waianae has ever had a problem with that. But it doesn’t hurt to pound that message home to players who already have a good amount of discipline.

“That’s my main message,” he said. “I want them to believe in themselves and have confidence in themselves and believe in their ability.”

He also got a little more specific about what Waianae wants to do on the field, and it was more than a hint that his vision is to improve on last year’s 1-8 record, a low-water mark in Waianae football that is assuaged partly by the fact that it was the Seariders’ first go-’round in the highly competitive, iron-fisted world of OIA-ILH interleague competition.

“We want to compete with everyone, especially that ILH group,” he said. “We are working on getting them believing and having the confidence to do that.”

You could say Fanoga has been there and done that. He is the prime example of a coach constantly on the move and going to football programs that need his services.

Like many of Oahu’s other 27 coaches, he has an extensive playing background.

Before his high school years and then at UTEP as a linebacker, he played Pop Warner in Westminster, Calif., which is not far from Anaheim.

He recalls suiting up for the Hornets, Lions and Falcons, playing outside linebacker and inside linebacker and fullback. And he loved being the linebacker/safety type.

“I progressed from there, where there was a lot of good competition and teams at that young age when I learned the game,” he said.

It was on to Fountain Valley High near Huntington Beach, Calif.

“There, I played outside linebacker and was more like a rover and safety.”

He then played both inside and outside linebacker when he got to UTEP.

“We didn’t win a lot of games,” he said about those college days. “But we did compete as a whole group. At that time, there were a lot of good teams in our conference — BYU, San Diego State, Utah, Arizona, Arizona, Air Force. We were trying to win games, but we did not have any good winning seasons. Making big tackles and interceptions were the biggest moments for me. Those were the moments I looked forward to.

“I remember playing against Steve Young and trying to get an angle on him. He put a move on three of us going toward the sideline and all of us missed him.”

His coach at UTEP, Hal Mumme, had a big effect on Fanoga’s coaching career.

“Hal recruited me and gave me a chance as a coach,” said Fanoga, who coached with Mumme for about 15 years at UTEP, Iowa Wesleyan, Valdosta State, Kentucky, and New Mexico State.

“I wasn’t planning on being a coach. I started as a grad assistant and worked my way up.”

Fanoga also made stops at West Alabama (formerly Livingston), Western Kentucky (under coach Jack Harbaugh), Wyoming (under coach Dave Christensen), Benedict College, Virginia Union, Morgan State and Missouri Southern.

A Makakilo resident, Fanoga is married to Soana (maiden name Tupua), who grew up in Hawaii and graduated from Brigham Young-Hawaii.

“I saw myself as aggressive and tough and someone who did the things that we were told to do as players, playing with technique,” he said. “I hope to transfer those things to our players. We want them to be tough and aggressive. Right now, the kids — without pads — are catching it and understanding it. We had a mini camp (recently). They work hard and they want to do what’s right.”

Waianae offensive linemen Jace Filipo-Rodrigues (65) and tight end Adonis Puou (87) are a big part of the returning Seariders under first-year coach Mike Fanoga. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.


>> 2018 record and finish: 1-8 (1-4 OIA Open); Did not qualify for playoffs

>> Head coach Mike Fanoga’s staff:
— Garrett Hagin (offensive coordinator)
— Antonio Brown (co-offensive coordinator, receivers)
— Andy Tafiti (tight ends)
— Michael Ulufale (offensive line)
— Tyler Fabro (offensive line)
— Bernard Ramaila (linebackers)
— Mike Fanoga (defensive coordinator)
— Tau Salele (defensive line)
— Kainoa Evangelista (defensive line)
— Matt Murakawa (linebackers)
— Braeson Rosa (linebackers)
— Sasai Paogofie (safeties, special teams)
— Marcial Ayala (cornerbacks)

>> Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State selections returning: None.

>> Honolulu Star-Advertiser All-State selections lost to graduation: None.

>> Players with Division I FBS college offers: None.

>> 2019 key returnees: Titus Kahooilihala, Sr., OL, 6-6, 260; Adonis Puou, Sr., TE, 6-5, 205; Angus Ramaila, Sr., LB, 5-11, 225; Aramis Sotelo, Sr., DE, 6-1, 255; Sam Cook, Sr., S, 5-10, 190.

>> All-time state championships: None.

>> All-time Prep Bowl (1973-1998) championships: 4 (all D-I, including one co-championship* — 1973, 1977, 1978, *1980)

>> All-time OIA championships: 18 (all D-I — 1962, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1997)

>> 2019 conference: OIA Open



Part Seven: Coach Bryson Carvalho and the Waipahu Marauders


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


  1. Mahatma Gandhi June 27, 2019 6:46 am

    I remember back in the 1970’s, how great the Waianae football program was. Team color was Black then, no red, not dark blue as it is now. I remember them coming out in all black uniforms in the 1978 Prep Bowl against Waianae. Funny thing is, so many teams now incorporating black into their uniforms Waianae went the other direction. Best play ever by a Waianae football player:
    the hit DB Nate Fletcher (Palakiko) laid on Punahou’s star athlete in the 1977 Prep Bowl. I will never forget the ooohs and aaahs coming from the Waianae side.

  2. Jayme Wight June 27, 2019 9:38 am

    Mahatma, who cares about your memories of 1970s FB in Hawaii?

  3. HLI June 27, 2019 3:57 pm

    Good luck to Coach Fanoga.

    Lets see how we can transition all the success the west side has in its youth sports to the High School level. Hammers in baseball, softball, and football, come HS and flat tire. Lets get it going peeps.

  4. Coconut Wireless June 28, 2019 4:17 am

    many people care and appreciate all’s positive comments. Your Wight is all wrong.

  5. Alan Pratt July 1, 2019 12:16 am

    Mike Fanoga is a great man and coach. Good luck this year.

  6. SUSPENSE July 23, 2019 1:57 pm


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