Coaches at the receiver position got their look, hours worth of reps, at the Polynesian Bowl Combine on Saturday.
By the end of 7-on-7 competition, nearly seven hours after the day had started, Leilehua senior Keawe Andres stood before his peers. The 5-foot-10, 167-pound pass catcher was named one of the top five players at his spot, one of five co-MVPs. The pronouncement in the announcement was slightly puzzling.
“They said ‘No. 161, Kiwi Annndrez,’ ” Andres recalled.
His confusion gave way to realization.
“I was kind of shocked. There’s a lot of talent at the Combine. All the glory is going to God and all the coaches who pushed me to my limits. It was a good experience, one of my first camps ever. I was kind of preparing for it. I was doing extra work with coach Samson (Anguay), extra work at Leilehua with my coaches, being prepared for a long day, sleep early, stay hydrated. Getting hydrated was really helpful,” he said of the hot day.
Anguay has trained many young athletes through the pandemic, and perhaps he was cautious about his selections. However, Anguay got an added confirmation about Andres from a notable observer.
“Tua’s dad, Galu (Tagovailoa) told me, ‘Pick this kid. This kid is good.’ That’s an accomplishment for Keawe because you have someone’s son who made it to the NFL and he picked (Andres),” Anguay said.
Andres has his own breakdown of the many talented passers at the Combine. Well, at least two of them.
Best deep ball: Tuli Tagovailoa (Kapolei).
“I only had two quarterbacks throwing to me. I kind of grew up with Tuli. We kind of have a connection. My brother (Kona) used to train with Tua and Taulia. Tuli was always there. His ball got way better, nicer, more crispy.”
Best intermediate pass: “Either John-Keawe (Sagapolutele) or Tuli.”
Best sideline pass: “Tuli for sure.”
Best touch: “Tuli.”
In the constant ebb and flow of drills and 7-on-7s, the pace was sometimes frenetic.
“I couldn’t find my quarterback, Xander Muyot,” Andres said. “It was crazy because John’s arm got stronger since the last time we threw ball together, when Kona was his sophomore year.”
Later, in Wahiawa, Andres celebrated in a practical, low key way.
“Saturday night, I had a big Dong Yang plate and soda. I went to sleep, kanak attack,” he said.
By Sunday, Andres was back on a field. This time, not with Anguay, one of the skill-position gurus of recent times, but with a former coach from Lawrence Tech (Mich.).
“I’ve been working with Cory Lacanaria. I think he stopped coaching this year. I think he’s playing pro ball,” Andres said. “He’s here for the summer. Almost every Sunday, I’ve been working with him. Usually it’s just me, but I’ve started to bring more Leilehua people, receivers and DBs.”
The Mules were slated to play in the Open Division last year, but the pandemic ended what could have been a Cinderella success story.
“Last year was supposed to be the dream team of Leilehua. This year, everyone’s saying, last year they could’ve done it way easier. We were in Open, playing our rival team (Mililani) and playing the big dogs,” Andres said.
His high school career, following the footsteps of older brother Kona, got off to a painful start. Kona Andres was a often thrilling playmaker at quarterback. Keawe suffered a broken femur as a freshman, and has persevered with grit and passion.
“It’s kind of a secret, but Leilehua is always going to be small-town tough guys who push through to the fourth quarter, be humble and give the glory to God. We have a lot of veterans from when we won the JV championship in 2018 and ’19,” he said.
Andres hears about transfers taking place across Oahu. That would never happen in his home. Especially not to arch rival Mililani, arguably the toughest Open Division program in the OIA.
“I would never transfer to Mililani. Never. I’m always going to bleed green and gold,” Andres said, noting transfers from other schools to the Trojans. “It’s crazy, every day they have to drive from Ewa Beach to Mililani.”
As for Kona Andres, his life took a turn away from football soon after high school. He and his girlfriend began raising a family, and his hobby, cutting hair, became a job.
“He’s opening a barber shop pretty soon. But when he started out, he started cutting my hair, I was his dummy. He used to mess up my hair. He got better junior year and then he started cutting everybody’s hair. Basically everybody on the football team, all his friends at school. Fridays were packed at our house,” Andres recalled.
But the house was a bit too crowded.
“At first, it was cool because it was just little bit people. Then he started cutting hair at Trends barber shop. (Now) he’s at a barber shop at Pearl City, and the guy’s helping him get his license and helping him get his own place,” Andres said.
The days of being a practice model for his brother are long gone. Andres feels fortunate to get his cuts for free.
“Every week, he cuts my hair. I have to pay him — I have to sweep the barbershop to get a free cut from him,” he said. “He charges a lot.”
Keawe Andres’ Lockdown Staples
Top 3 movies
1. “Blue Hawaii”
“I watched it almost every day from fourth grade to six grade. My grandma (Karen Germano) had 40 or so Elvis movies. You know that scene where they’re swimming at Hanauma Bay, the main actress, she couldn’t swim. My great-great-great auntie (Jan Shizuru) was the (stunt double) swimmer, and my grandma was in love with Elvis Presley. Every time we used to watch moves, Papa always got jealous. He used to say, turn it off, I don’t want to hear you talk about how cute he is. He was joking around, but I like that movie because my grandma was kind of my best friend. She would tell me where all the spots are (in the movie). She would tell me, ‘This is Wahiawa, this was Waikiki, this was Kunia Road.’ That road is super scary.”
2. “The Outsiders”
“I used to watch that with my other other papa (Patrick Andres). It’s kind of like ‘Rumble Fish’. This was my favorite. I connected it with Pony Boy, the main character because I grew up in the ghetto. The rough part of Wahiawa, Ohai Street, behind Walgreens.”
Nearby Whitmore Village, Andres added, is a tough place, too.
“Whitmore Village, they say you come in with a lot and you leave with less. Whitmore is a small little town. It’s really nice. There’s a place, we just call it Filipino restaurant. It’s really good. It’s kind of like a hidden spot. Only Wahiawa and Whitmore people know about it. If you’re sick, you gotta go there to get the chicken soup.”
3. “Friday Night Lights”
“The movie is based on a Texas football team, a true story. I watched it every Friday night before Kona’s game. The first time I saw it, I cried because of the ending.”
Top 3 TV shows
1. “Last Chance U” (Netflix)
“Every year, it’s a new team.”
2. “Spongebob Squarepants” (Nickelodeon)
“I think they stopped. I think they have 18 (seasons). I grew up on Spongebob and it always caught my eye. It made me want to watch more because my dad (Donavan) said I couldn’t watch it. ‘You’re not learning anything from it. They’re just doing random things.’ But it always caught my eye. They don’t teach anything.”
3. “The Three Stooges”
“I got introduced to them from my uncle (Daniel Andres), my dad’s brother. My dad and my uncle like Three Stooges because it’s classic. I only watched it because me, my brother and my cousin used to be called Three Stooges. My brother, Kona, had the bowl cut.”
Yes, Kona, now a popular barber. Life is a circle.
Top 3 food/snack/drink
1. Chicken cutlet (homemade)
“Grandma Karen made this. Funny story. It really isn’t chicken cutlet. I was a picky eater when I was young, and I would only eat chicken and pizza. She told me it was chicken, but it was actually pork. I found out a year ago. I was at my other grandma’s house and I asked her for chicken cutlet. She said she only had pork cutlet, so I called my mom and said I don’t want to be here for the sleepover. My mom (Jennifer) said, ‘You always ate pork cutlet. You never ate chicken cutlet before.’ I asked Grandma Karen, ‘Why’d you lie to me? That’s really messed up!’ I guess my mom told my grandma, so my grandma was laughing.
“I eat pork cutlet. I’m not that picky anymore. I’d pick pork cutlet over chicken cutlet.”
“Basically, any type of pizza. My top one would be Domino’s. Pepperoni and Italian sausage. My top frozen pizza is DiGiorno or pizza rolls.”
“My dad makes the best steak. Frying pan or the grill, it doesn’t matter. He said he has a special seasoning. I like it medium rare.”
Top 3 music artists
1. Tupac – “Picture Me Rollin”
2. Biggie Smalls – “Notorious B.I.G”
3. Kalapana – “Nightbird”
“My dad’s side are Kalapana fans.”
New life skill: cooking
“I just have to learn how to cook for college, so I started to cook on my own. I can cook shrimp, steak, not as good as my dad. Microwave stuff. I can make my own pizza. Bought the dough, the sauce and ingredients.”
“To God, to my family, to my coach Samson, and my entire coaching staff at Leilehua. To my 2021 football teammates.”