NINTH 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 PAT SILVA AND THE 2019 MCKINLEY TIGERS
It was a simple task for Pat Silva to recall a top moment from the memory banks of his high school football career as a quarterback.
That would be his McKinley Tigers’ near upset of Waianae in the 1973 OIA championship game.
“We lost 13-6, but we had an 80-yarder called back,” Silva said. “They called holding against the tight end on the play. I had a chance to watch the video. It was really manini, questionable. Once I broke it off, the flag came out. That probably would have put us in position to win. It could have been 13-13. Waianae played a great game and we came up a little short. We were an option team. That could have been the game-winner, I like to think. Waianae went on to beat Saint Louis (6-0) for the Prep Bowl title the next week.”
Like many others from Hawaii, Silva went on to play at Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore.
“At Linfield, we were more of a multiple offense,” Silva said. “A lot of running was incorporated, but we pretty much threw the ball. In my junior and senior years, we set a lot of records in the passing game.”
When he got to small-college Linfield, the school used rubber footballs and Silva suggested switching to leather — and the change was made.
“I said, ‘Hey coach Rutsch (Ad Rutschman), these are the balls we used in PE,” he said. “The first game we changed, we went 23-for-33 for 310 yards and three TDs. That was against Western Oregon, a Division II team.”
Silva is a proud Linfield alum.
“I was going to go to Willamette,” he said. “Hawaii’s Tommy Lee (current Saint Louis assistant) was there. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out. They said my scores were too low. The year before, one of my teammates got into Willamette and he had lower scores than me. (McKinley coach) Herb (Moriyama) said, ‘Let’s try Linfield.’ Three weeks after applying, I got in.
“They’ve had 63 winning seasons in a row and counting, the most of any college. My four years there we took titles. My junior and senior years, we were ranked No. 1 in the country.”
As a junior, Silva’s Wildcats lost a heartbreaker to Cal Lutheran in the NAIA national semifinals. They were up 28-10 with eight minutes to go and lost 29-28.
As a senior, in another national semifinal, Linfield was up 23-17 with two minutes to go and lost 24-23 due a bad snap over the punter’s head.
“There were a lot of special moments for me and a number of championship teams over the years that I played ball,” Silva said. “Being part of a team is a priceless reward that you can talk about and share all the moments you went through together.”
Thirteen years ago, about 80 Linfield football alumni from the mainland came to Hawaii for a reunion. Another one, with about 100 people coming in, will happen next year, according to Silva.
“We’re calling it Hana Hou, the final reunion,” he said. “I’m trying to share this type of thing with our kids at McKinley. High school is great and if you can get a chance to play in college, it’s even better. That’s the only thing we can do, share our knowledge and experience. People took that extra step for me, coach Herb sending that application and coach Ad taking me on board.”
Silva has a lot more McKinley memories, too.
One of them is a 57-yard touchdown run that put the Tigers ahead of Kahuku 7-6 in 1973.
“Both teams were undefeated and the team that won the game was going to be in position for the OIA East title,” Silva said. “I remember on that run seeing this red flash coming around to my side of the field. Oh no, I cut back at the 20. He turned. I cut back again. That was at the old stadium and that guy may have been the greatest athlete to ever play the game from Hawaii, Pisa Finai. You can put Kurt Gouveia up there and guys like Manti Te’o. Pisa went on to play at BYU and he became a pro boxer, going 13-0. We ended up beating them 14-6.”
In his Pop Warner days, Silva played Bantam football for the Palolo Vikings, even though he was a sophomore in high school.
As a junior, he wasn’t going to try out for football, but eventually did when Moriyama invited him based on a tip from PE teacher Joe Tom Sr.
In the early 1980s, Silva was an offensive coordinator under coach Nelson Maeda at Castle and then he became the offensive coordinator at Farrington under Skippa Diaz for most of the 1980s.
In 1989, Silva helped head coach Charlie Kaaihue at McKinley and then coached basketball for the Tigers for a while.
Then, it was back at Castle as the offensive coordinator in 1993 and ’94 and as head coach in 1995 and ’96. In 1997, Silva was the quarterbacks coach at Linfield.
After that, he took a break from coaching before returning as the Roosevelt head coach from 2009 to ’11. He’s been the McKinley head man since the 2017 season.
After going 1-7 two seasons ago, the Tigers went 4-5 in 2018. Alexandria Buchanan, who is a rare female quarterback, is back for her senior year.
“We’re looking forward to the season ahead,” Silva said. “We’re low on numbers, so we’re hoping that prior to the start of the school year we can round up more freshmen.
“For us as a staff, more so for me being an alumni, we want to make sure the kids have the right attitude, and that starts in the classroom. Unfortunately, I already know that when the season starts, we’ll have some on academic probation. I was hoping that by now, they would understand the importance of maintaining grades. We’re looking for a large number of kids to step up during that period of time. We do have pretty decent football players coming back, with a number of skill position kids. Our concern is on the line. We have unproven linemen.
“Overall, we’re taking positive steps. The kids are starting to understand what the system is about. Hopefully, that will transform into more success.”
Like Linfield alum Mark Kurisu, the head coach at Leilehua, Silva is a believer in running many of the same schemes Linfield uses on both sides of the ball.
As a matter of fact, Silva was on the Linfield staff when Kurisu was a senior safety.
Can the Tigers get to that .500 mark or beyond in 2019?
“We believe winning will take care of itself,” Silva said. “If you work hard, good things will happen. If you use your god-given abilities, good things will happen. If you make the right decisions on and off the field, follow the system, be in the proper position with 10 other guys around you, you can accomplish things.
“We talk to the kids about how important it is to become a better person in life. We want them to reach out to people they’ve never met — a new teacher, a classmate or an administrator. Who’s to say that when you need a job, the person that you said hello to isn’t in a position to hire you?”
2019 McKINLEY TIGERS AT A GLANCE
>> 2018 record and finish: 4-5 (1-5 OIA Division II).
>> Head coach Pat Silva’s staff:
— Jody Tyrell (defensive coordinator)
— Bryan Miyamoto
— Saffery Silva
— Josh Meadows
— Tui Vaaena (offensive coordinator)
— Scott Mosher
— Malcolm Mills
— Zack Kalashian
>> Approximate varsity and JV numbers: Varsity 34, JV 27
>> 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.
>> Among 2019 key returnees: Zion Williams, Sr., WR/DB/RET, 5-8, 160; Franklin Pham, Sr., LB/WR, 5-9, 170; Alexandria Buchanan, Sr., QB, 5-6, 135; Quincy Owens-Barnes, Jr., DB/WR, 5-8, 140.
>> All-time state championships: None.
>> All-time Prep Bowl (1973-1998) championships: None.
>> All-time OIA championships: None.
>> All-time ILH championships: 7 (all D-I — 1921, 1923, 1929, 1933, 1937, 1938, 1947)
>> 2019 conference: OIA Division II
COMING NEXT IN “GLORY DAYS”:
Part 10: Coach Kili Watson and the 2019 Nanakuli Golden Hawks
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