Kurisu vows to keep Leilehua moving forward

Mark Kurisu was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach in November, the day after Nolan Tokuda stepped down. Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Mark Kurisu was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach in November, the day after Nolan Tokuda stepped down. Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Mark Kurisu has lots of experience as Leilehua’s defensive coordinator and so the Mules probably won’t skip a beat now that he is the new head coach.

Kurisu, who took over in November after veteran coach Nolan Tokuda stepped down, is already putting his stamp on the successful program.

“This is a tremendous opportunity,” Kurisu said Wednesday in what is believed to be his first public comments since he got the promotion. “I have big shoes to fill, being the head coach at a school that has had so many great coaches, including Hugh Yoshida and Nolan. We have a strong staff, a mix of old and new, some alumni and former players. I’m pretty excited about moving forward.”

Kurisu, the Mules players and other coaches are in the process of helping to repaint and restore the weight room and locker room. The new paint — green and yellow — replaces the old green and white and more accurately reflects the school’s official colors.

Another change will be on the team’s green helmets. On one side will be the regular yellow “Mules” script and on the other side will be the Mules script with an inlaid American flag.

“Our yellow is to reflect the community,” Kurisu said. “The flag is to honor the military. We have a lot of military families that have always been a big part of our success. They are committed to serving our country and we don’t want to forget that. Our school began with military roots.”

The back of the helmet, opposite the player’s jersey number, will be an F-cubed design (F to the power of 3).

Kurisu said it stands for faith, family and future.

“Faith doesn’t have to mean religion,” he said. “It can. It’s also about faith in other people, your teammates, your team. Family is also your team and your friends and your family and your hanai grandma and grandpa. Future is making the right choices to fulfill your goals.”

Kurisu was the Mules’ acting head coach in 2011, when Tokuda took a year off, going 10-1-1 and losing to eventual state champion Kahuku 13-10 in double overtime in a Division I state tournament semifinal.

Kurisu was a big part of the 2007 team that won the D-I state title and the 2004 team that finished as the D-I state runner-up.

“Nolan has had a huge impact on the success of Leilehua football,” Kurisu said. “People see that he works really hard and that inspires others to work hard.”

Tokuda is still at his job as a Leilehua assistant athletic director and is expected to be a candidate for the athletic director position. Athletic director James Toyota will be leaving the post after this school year.


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