In case you missed it in the Star-Advertiser breaking news section, Kahuku has hired Vavae Tata as its new head football coach.
Tata has some tough shoes to fill. Lee Leslie, who took over for Reggie Torres last year, went 9-3 with an OIA Red division title. Kahuku lost to state champion Mililani in the OIA final and advanced to the state semifinals before losing to Punahou by a field goal after holding a fourth-quarter lead.
Torres went 11-2 and won a state title in his first year at Kahuku in 2006, replacing Siuaki Livai. Livai went 2-5 in his first season at Kahuku in 1996 but never had another losing season over the next nine seasons.
Tata was hired as the defensive line coach at Vanderbilt in January of 2014, but was arrested for DUI a month later and was moved into a non-coaching role as an assistant in player development. Tata was also charged with felony DUI in 1997 as a student at UCLA after an accident in which he and two others were injured.
Tata got the job over the other finalists that were David Te’o (Kamehameha assistant, former Kahuku assistant), Sterling Carvalho (Kahuku assistant, former Waialua assistant) and Asai Gilman (executive director of Education 1st).
Other applicants for the job included Livai; Kahuku assistant Tommy Heffernan Sr.; Kamehameha assistant and former Kahuku assistant Byron Beatty; Kapolei assistant, former Kailua coach and former Kahuku assistant Darren Johnson; Kahuku junior varsity head coach James Kammerer (who held the title of interim varsity head coach until Tata’s hire); and former Dixie State head coach Greg Croshaw.