Kili Watson is not that far removed from high school and now he is a high school football head coach.
Last month, Nanakuli announced a transfer of power, so to speak, from Keala Watson to his brother Kili to lead the Golden Hawks.
Unlike some other head coaching changes, this was not a big shakeup. As a matter of fact, Keala, a former standout for the University of Hawaii, still shows up to help whenever he can for the players’ informal offseason workouts.
No reason was given for the change and the Watson brothers would like that to remain private. It appears Keala has other things in his life to focus on, and it’s quite possible that he may return as head coach some day.
Kili (whose real name is Kieran) plans to continue building the program the way Keala did it — treating it like a rallying point for the tight-knit community.
“I’ve been (an assistant) with Keala from the beginning,” Kili said during a phone interview Thursday. “Right out of high school, it was a volunteer thing for me. Actually, I was helping during the spring of my senior year.”
Kili was a tight end at Kamehameha, where he graduated from in 2012. At that time, Keala was the JV coach before moving up to varsity for the 2013 season.
“Since we started, I’ve really bought into Keala’s mission of making change in the community,” Kili said. “That’s kind of what made coaching more satisfying for me. Beyond X’s and O’s, it’s mentoring our youth. Now I’m in the position of being head coach and it makes it a little more desirable. I plan to continue what he started.
“We have an offseason program and it’s been a smooth transition. We’re doing what we normally do. One difference this year is more of our boys are playing other sports. It has it’s pros and cons, but I think it’s more of a pro, more so with academics. It keeps them accountable.”
After being highly competitive in Oahu Interscholastic Association Division II, Nanakuli went 0-8 last season after moving up to D-I, where they will be again this season. The Golden Hawks were within two touchdowns in four of their eight losses.