David Tautofi‘s connection to Las Vegas continues to get stronger.
The Kaimuki coach is bringing his football team there for a game this year, and it just so happens it’s against Jordan Solomon‘s new team. Solomon was Kaimuki’s starting quarterback last season and has since transferred to Sierra Vista, which will play the Bulldogs on Sept. 7.
In two seasons with Kaimuki, Solomon threw for 3,364 yard and 37 touchdowns and rushed for 351 yards and seven more scores.
“Jordan moved back home to Vegas,” Tautofi said. “That is where his family is all at. His family wanted him to finish his school up there. His dad actually said there’s a chance he might come back (to Kaimuki). That would be wishful thinking on my part. We’ve got to prepare for the season without him, but I know he will always be a Bulldog at heart.”
Tautofi recently got a chance to watch Sierra Vista training.
“It was good to see them,” he said, referring to Solomon and Tautofi’s nephew Jahsiaah Maiava, a senior who played two seasons at Kaimuki and is now at Sierra Vista. “Jahsiaah was their defensive player of the year and team MVP.
“Watching them (train) was a humbling and proud moment as a coach to see those two boys running the practice as captains and leading the team — the way we’ve been pouring it into them here at Kaimuki. It’s awesome to see that. We’re trying to build champions in these kids. They are the leaders of tomorrow. To see them do it in a foreign land and drawing people to them by the way they do things and the way they are, it was truly humbling. And it’s a sign of what we’re doing at Kaimuki. We have something special going on at the school beyond the wins.”
Sierra Vista’s Mountain Lions went 6-3 in 2017, including a 43-0 losts to Nevada power Bishop Gorman. Kaimuki went 5-4, losing 7-0 to Pearl City in the OIA Division II semifinals. Solomon passed for 3,364 yards and 37 TDs in his two seasons as the Kaimuki quarterback.
“The one thing I saw from Jordan and Jahsiaah is their confidence and the way that they were leading the team and how they played. Their heart, their fearless, confident attitude — and it’s contagious. It’s something special that islanders have.”
Tautofi, a Kaimuki alum, is a former UCLA defensive end and a former coach at Calvary Chapel Christian School in Las Vegas.
Tautofi said he went to dinner with Solomon and Maiava.
“They asked if they could come and sing the alma mater with us after the game,” Tautofi said. “I told them sure, they’re always going to be Bulldogs at heart, but that the only reason they have a chance against us is because of them two. It was a great reunion.”
Tautofi said some of his former coaches at Calvary Chapel are now with Sierra Vista, including offensive line coach William Maiava.
Two seasons ago, another Las Vegas school, Faith Lutheran, visited Hawaii to play Kaimuki. The game was pushed to a Sunday due to a hurricane threat, and Faith Lutheran won 49-18 at Aloha Stadium.
In 2015, a Las Vegas high school player, linebacker James Gentile, moved to Hawaii to play under Tautofi in his first year as the Bulldogs’ head coach.
“The program he was playing for shut down,” Tautofi said. “It was his only option. We started 0-3 and went all the way to the OIA (D-II) championship game.”
Tautofi said many of his Kaimuki players have never been on a plane.
“It will be really special for the kids,” he said. “They’ll get to experience so much more than the game. They think of Las Vegas the same way think of Hollywood. It’s going to blow their minds.”
The Bulldogs will work out at Bishop Gorman and will take a tour of UNLV.
“It will help build a different perspective and mind-set and hopefully give them more encouragement and confidence so they say, ‘I can do this,’ ” the coach said. “Sometimes their mentality is, ‘That’s too big for me.’ I played for UCLA and I do not say that to glorify me. I say it because if someone like me could do it, you can do it.
“Seasons come and go, but the future for these kids still exists. If we can save these kids before it’s too late, it’ll be worth it. Kaimuki has a high crime rate. There was a big hostage situation in Palolo recently, just as we were getting ready for a barbecue sale for a youth program. There are robberies and everything. It’s crazy. The kids come through the system. If we can make make a difference in one’s life, that life can make a difference in another’s. That’s all we can do. The message is for some kind of hope for the kids.”