Hernandez on how June Jones joined Hurricanes

June Jones was intrigued with the numbers Taulia Tagovailoa was putting up early during the Kapolei quarterback's freshman year. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
June Jones was intrigued with the numbers Taulia Tagovailoa was putting up early during the Kapolei quarterback’s freshman year. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Darren Hernandez might need a new phone or at least a new phone number.

The Kapolei football head coach has been inundated by calls and messages the last two weeks since he announced on TV that June Jones would be joining the Hurricanes as the offensive coordinator for the 2016 season.

“It’s been a crazy two weeks. So many people wanted to give well-wishes. I feel like chopped liver,” he joked via telephone Wednesday.

So, how did what seemed impossible happen? Jones, who turned poor Hawaii and SMU teams into successes and also was the head man with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and San Diego Chargers, going to Kapolei as an assistant? No way!


Well, in a nutshell, it’s all about the quarterback. Yes, he has a knack for finding the good ones, and, apparently, now he’s going to them instead of the other way around. He wants to mentor Taulia Tagovailoa, who will be a sophomore next season.

Here’s how Hernandez described the initial contact:

“During the season, Taulia was making his first start against Mililani and he threw for 394 yards. We got beat badly, 67-21, but he threw three touchdowns in the first half. June heard about it, called me and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me, a freshman throwing for so many yards (against the defending state champions).’ He was also impressed that he had 60-plus attempts.

“He (Jones) was intrigued. He came down to watch him practice, stayed in the background and watched the offense. He was very impressed with what he saw. He even came over and helped us as an offense, tweaked a few things that we were doing. In Taulia’s next game, against Moanalua, he threw about 70 passes for 464 yards and four TDs.”

At the end of the season, Kapolei offensive coordinator Galu Tagovailoa — Taulia’s dad — stepped down so he can concentrate on watching both of his sons as a father and not as a coach, according to Hernandez. Tua Tagovailoa, Taulia’s brother will be a senior quarterback at Saint Louis next season and has 15 Division I scholarship offers.

“My first idea would be that I would be the OC,” Hernandez said. “And I had planned to meet with June anyway to go over our offense. He said he had lots of time on his hands and suggested that he could be the OC. I wasn’t about to say, ‘Sorry, I have other plans.’ ”

Jones went 112-94 as a head coach in college and 22-36 in the pros.

Taulia Tagovailoa went 216-for-386 for 2,784 yards with 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as a freshman. Think of what Jones — a jedi master of the run-and-shoot — might be able to do to help Tagovailoa improve.

“He’s a smart kid, he watches a lot of film, he’s very accurate,” Hernandez said.

In the OIA playoffs at Kahuku, one of the best defenses in state history, Tagovailoa thew for 356 yards in a 56-10 loss.

“He had four interceptions in that game, but only two were his fault,” Hernandez said. “The other two were to spots where the receiver was supposed to be. It was in the toughest, bar none, place to play in Hawaii and on a soft, muddy field.”

Hernandez has known Jones for years, but the two have never coached together.

“I’ve always struggled getting a consistent offensive coordinator,” Hernandez said. “People say June coaching at Kapolei is a step down. It’s not about going down. Football is football. He loves Hawaii. He wants to be in Hawaii. It’s a natural fit.”

Added Galu Tagovailoa: “It’s unreal that Taulia is going to be coached by one of the best college coaches. It’s a blessing for our family.”


  1. Action Jackson January 21, 2016 8:14 pm

    People saying “they love Hawaii, wanting to be in Hawaii” sounds like they love the Big island. The Big island aka Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, Molokai, and Lanai is nothing even remotely close to Oahu. The outer islands are mellow, Oahu is not.

  2. Tutu Kane Ale January 22, 2016 2:20 am

    So that means Kapolei will be 2016 Hawaii State Football Championship,…guarantee; if not then Darren and June will look to the Big Island Hawaii for coaching vacancies in 2017?
    Now that makes good I love Hawaii mellow sense,…great dream planning like last resort before going to JV coaching?

  3. H-Man January 22, 2016 8:17 am

    Nice reporting. Good article.

  4. hi808 January 22, 2016 8:24 am

    Kapolei needs more then a new OC, they had 4 in the past 4 years and still got sasa from Mililani.

  5. hi808 January 22, 2016 8:30 am

    Vae Tata at Kahuku is a former College Defensive coach. Will be fun to watch him and June Jones (kahuku vs. kapolei) battle it out on the field. Tata already took care of Rob Lees run-n-shoot offense at St. Louis and im sure will handle JJ. Next will be for Chip Kelley to come to Hawaii after the 49ers release him.

  6. SimpleSimon January 22, 2016 11:49 am

    Coach Jones and his system are long gone. No need to bring back old schemes that people don’t want anymore (because they don’t work). Kapolei will continue to be the most over-rated Hawaii High School Football Team of all time!!!

  7. rrfl January 22, 2016 11:52 am

    really another master of the run and shoot. When are these people going to learn DEFENSE wins championships!!!

  8. hi808 January 22, 2016 3:10 pm

    In 2014 Kapolei was the hosting school for the NFL pro bowl so the NFL helped donate money for their field turf. This year Kahuku is the hosting school and the NFL said sorry we aint got money for you guys. #StillTheEnemyofthestate

  9. Petey January 22, 2016 4:27 pm

    First off, my cousin works for the Pro Bowl when they are in town. The NFL never donated money to any school. Kapolei does not have “field turf”, but regular grass. So you are wrong about that. Also, how can you claim Kahuku is the enemy of the state when they have 16 OIA championships since 2000 and has sent more players to college and the NFL then any other school by a wide margin. They have the best players, so it only makes sense that they have the most titles. Kahuku is the best football program in the state by far and it’s not even close.

  10. hi808 January 22, 2016 4:48 pm

    eh Petey your cousin the security guard dont know nahhhhhtin! I am on the board of alumni and the NFL promised some funding for a weight room back in May 2015 for the upcoming 2016 pro bowl, just like they did for Kapoleis field in 2014, but now nahhhhhhhhtin! We will continue to play in mud and lift weights on wooden benches cause the cushion all ripped up.

  11. Paper Crane January 22, 2016 7:31 pm

    Yeh Darren you may still be struggling whereas when June is in charge as offensive coordinator like that’s the same as being the head coach so don’t kid yourself or your viewers because June want to be in charge or to have full control just watch and see whereas June is your senior and and will always be your senior and his 3 tier level of coaching come with having much more playing or coaching experiences and like his attributes arrive from the old and the new school but anyway it’s worth a try and like they say win or lose it’s still a win for experience;…flashback whereas June Jones wasn’t motivating happy at SMU since he didn’t have full control with his kind of coaching concept therefore he left after struggling to convince the hierarchy at SMU.

  12. Jeezy33 January 22, 2016 8:27 pm

    SimpletonSimon: You leave Lily Kahumoku’s baby daddy alone. June Jones has done great things for Hawaii. You have done nothing in your entire life and know nothing about football or scouting recruits. I do.

  13. Action Jackson January 23, 2016 2:03 am

    ….. Common for ex college coaches to go back to HS their roots. The Lee’s@Kalani, Miano @Kaiser, Jones@Kapolei, Morrison@Roosevelt, Pohai@Baldwin. Maybe Wagner can go help out @KS Hawaii. The teams really need ex college calibur coaches to step up their game.

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