There’s good news and bad news for the Waialua football team.
We’ll start with the bad: the Bulldogs will not have a junior varsity team this season due to a lack of players.
But, all is not lost. The Waialua varsity team (1-0) has a healthy 53 players on the roster going into Friday’s 6 p.m. Oahu Intersholastic Association Division II matchup at home against Kalani.
Varsity head coach Lincoln Barit said Thursday night that he wishes the Bulldogs could have a JV team so the program can grow the way it’s designed to be done (players develop and gain experience at the JV level before moving up).
“In spring ball in May, we had 18 on the JV, but by the time tryouts came, it was down to six, and those players are now on the varsity,” Barit said.
About 10 sophomores this season played on the varsity as freshman last year and are ineligible to go back down to JV.
Altogether, Waialua has 30 returning players and that number has been bolstered by a large crop of seniors and juniors who did not play last season.
“Many of those juniors and seniors who did not play last year are good athletes,” Barit said.
Junior varsity head coach George Hatchie and three of his assistants have moved up to Barit’s varsity staff, which now totals 12.
Hatchie is the father of the 6-foot-5, 306-pound Micah Hatchie, who played for Waialua and went on to star as an offensive tackle for the University of Washington before being signed and released by the Pittsburgh Steelers this summer.
Another bright spot for Waialua this year is depth at lineman. Barit said that last year the Bulldogs had about six on the O-line and four on the D-line.
“We usually struggle getting players there,” he added.
Right now, Waialua has seven linemen on offense and eight on defense.
Running back and linebacker Mila Lele and center Kaimi Kamai are among the Bulldogs’ key returnees this fall.
Barit also said sophomore Nathan Hatchie, a middle linebacker and tight end, will be a player to watch. He is George’s son and Micah’s brother.
Last Saturday, Waialua visited Honokaa on the Big Island and came home with a 32-14 victory.
The Falcons opened the season losing in the final seconds to Pac-Five, 16-14.