Every year, numbers are low, but the Kaimuki Bulldogs find a way to make success happen.
The Bulldogs suited up roughly two dozen players on Thursday, and came away from a tri-scrimmage with Campbell and Damien with plenty of material to work with. There was the good, like an 80-yard touchdown run by returnee Naomas Asuega-Fualaau, and a smooth 1-yard keeper for a TD by quarterback Jayden Maiava. Asuega-Fualaau, who rushed for 970 yards and 14 TDs last season, was one of the many ironmen playing both ways.
“Aw shoot, there’s really not much to think other than just compare what you thought would happen when you go in, and now we can go back and look at film,” Bulldogs coach David Tautofi said. “Today we just wanted to get as many reps as we could, get as much as a we can on film.”
The tri-scrimmage began at 5:30 p.m. and finished up at 8:19 p.m., giving coaches plenty of opportunities to examine their depth charts.
“This will give us a good look, especially being a D-II team, playing against the speed we saw today. It’s good for us,” Tautofi said.
Last year’s Bulldogs overcame low numbers to go 10-3 overall, including 7-0 in OIA D-II regular-season play. The Bulldogs lost to Roosevelt in the title game, but rebounded with a 28-27 win at Kamehameha-Hawaii in the opening round of the state tournament. They fell to Kapaa 20-12 in the semifinal round at Vidinha Stadium in Lihue.
This season is quite a challenge after the graduation of several key players, including two-way lineman Sama Paama (Washington).
Maiava, who has scholarship offers from Auburn and Tennessee, showed tremendous poise and skill at quarterback on Thursday. His ability to make pinpoint passes while on the move was impressive. So was his touch on a variety of intermediate and short passes, and the arm strength is undeniable. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound transfer from Sierra Vista (Las Vegas) had some struggles, though, when protection collapsed.
“He saw the difference in mainland football to Hawaii football, seeing the aggression. A lot of the boys from Campbell are guys he knows from when he was growing up,” Tautofi noted. “Mentally, his composure, learning to control his emotions when he’s frustrated. I saw a lot of that today, where he was good at keeping his composure, but at the same time, being a good steward with the rest of his teammates.”
Kaimuki came out strong, but attrition took its toll on the many two-way players. The challenge never ends, though. The Bulldogs will scrimmage three-time defending Open Division state champion Saint Louis on Saturday, 9 a.m., at the Crusaders’ field.