New McKinley football coach full of zeal

While being interviewed for a Honolulu Star-Advertiser story that announced his hiring as the new McKinley football coach, Sam Cantiberos used a word that captures his essence.


Cantiberos was referring to what he’d like the McKinley football program to be — so positive and uplifting that “people want to hop on board.”

Well, Cantiberos, 38, can tell you a thing or two about infectiousness. He is four years removed from chasing his biggest dream, a dream that got away.

Making it to the NFL is not possible for everyone on the planet, but it never stopped Cantiberos from trying, all the way up to age 34. The passion he has for football (since being “infected” with a love for the sport at a young age) will now be funneled into the Tigers’ program.

He was a standout running back/slotback for McKinley, graduating in 1994.

“I was being recruited as a D-I college player,” he said. “But I found out I was missing a science credit and was not eligible. I went the JC route and it was unsettling. I jumped around from JC to JC, trying to get to Division I. It took so long that my eligibility ran out. I stayed the course, trying to make the NFL and needed to find an outlet, so I played semipro football in California.”

Cantiberos said he’s been to “tons” of combines. He said his fastest 40 was a 4.19 (with a handheld timer in Las Vegas) and that he benched 225 pounds about 35 times. He became a player/coach in semipro ball and he also landed with teams in Nevada and Oregon. His fastest 40 in high school, he said, was a 4.23 with a handheld timer.

Cantiberos’ playing weight was 220 pounds and, in the four years since seriously training, his weight shot up to 280.

“I’ve lost 40 pounds recently, down to about 240, but I plan to get down to 215 — when practice starts and I’m running around with the kids,” he said.

Cantiberos, who takes over for Joe Cho, will try his hand at building an “elite” program at McKinley.

It won’t be easy. The Tigers went 0-7 a year ago and haven’t been an OIA contender for years.

“I want what every coach wants,” he said. “I would like to create an infectious, positive culture, where it effects the whole school — the basketball, baseball and track teams — and the community.”

Cantiberos plans on installing a multiple-set offense and is a true believer in adapting to what kind of players are on the roster. Eventually, and ideally, he would like to run an up-tempo offense.

“From what I’ve heard, we don’t have the biggest players around, so it’s possible our biggest strengths will be speed and conditioning,” he said.

Got that, McKinley Tigers players? Here you have a new coach with a lot of zeal. So, just in case you missed it, he mentioned “conditioning.”

Be ready.

On defense, Cantiberos will likely have with a 4-3 set that flexes into a 3-4 and a 5-2.

At any rate, schoolwork is high on his list for the players.

“Education is first,” he said. “I learned it the hard way (missing science credit).”


  1. Les Ching February 10, 2015 7:13 pm

    The fastest 40 yard dash time ever is 4.24. A good coach needs to be honest with himself and others.

  2. redalert293 February 10, 2015 8:33 pm

    Its nice to see a program get a boost of Zeal from a new hiring but he wont be able to do it by himself, He needs friends and family on his staff that have sons and nephews willing to transfer into the program and give it a boost. Mililani and Kaiser are your best examples.

  3. Hiilei February 10, 2015 9:15 pm

    seams like everybody is transferring to another school that will give them a better chance or it could just be that certain schools have better coaches that know how to utilize a player. I agree with Redalert293 about Mililani and Kaiser but adding Kahuku and Kapolei to the list

  4. Q Res February 11, 2015 1:31 am

    Mr. Cantiberos spent his freshmen year of high school at St. Louis, where I had the privilege of knowing him and, becoming a close friend. He is a great athlete, but an even better person. Good luck coach Cantiberos. I’ll be rooting for you.

  5. Micromachine February 11, 2015 6:17 am

    Hopefully they can turn around the program. It’s been a long time since they have been competitive…and a 4.19 40? Fastest 40 ever documented was a 4.2

  6. mentirosa February 11, 2015 6:23 am

    lol this dude claims that he ran his 40 faster than any other player in NFL history except for Bo Jackson?? come on, man.

  7. Nick Abramo February 11, 2015 1:26 pm

    Hello, I just spoke to Sam again today and he did not back down. He added that the 4.19 was with a hand-held timer in Las Vegas and that it would round off to a 4.28 or 4.29. He texted me a photo of a story from the Honolulu Advertiser when he was in high school, and the writer attributes Cantiberos saying his 40 went down from 4.4 to 4.2. Yes, it is him that is saying it — to the reporter then and to me now — and yes I can understand how people may doubt it. … He said that when he’s in shape this fall, anyone is welcome to come down and watch him run a 40. He think it will be good motivation for the kids. He also says that he thinks he could do a 4.4 and that he will be turning 39 soon. He plans to run in Hawaii’s Fastest Human race. … Now of course it certainly is hard for anyone to comprehend how someone without a name like Jerry Rice or Bo Jackson could run that fast. It’s possible that he’s not telling the truth. But, this man said he tried to make the NFL and never gave up on that dream until he was 34. He said he trained specifically for the 40 because speed is his thing. … If there are tons of unbelievers, I can press him for more documentation of his time. He went to “tons” of combines and maybe there’s something in writing that would help people understand where he’s coming from — and either verify his words or not.

  8. Sam Cantiberos February 11, 2015 3:11 pm

    Hey everyone. Well, I wasn’t expecting this starting my high school football coaching career. lol. So even though I feel that I do not need to address this. I will for good measure.

    To be honest, it really doesn’t matter how fast I ran the 40 yard dash in high school at 17 years old or how fast I ran the 40 yard dash well into my 30’s. Right now in my career, it’s not about me. It’s about the student-athletes that I will have the privilege of coaching at McKinley. I want to be clear on that. Moving forward…

    I’m sure no one would believe that I’ve seen players throw 80 yards with a 3 step drop, seen players bench 225 well over 50 times and I have even seen players run 40 times faster than the documented times of Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders, Chris Johnson, Darrel Green — the list goes on and on. The people I have seen do this all have the same thing in common with me: we never gave up on the dream of playing in the NFL, we trained countless hours to get to the big show, and it never happened. We all never made it.

    I’m sure everyone knows that it is not easy to get into the professional level. There are countless individuals that I have met on my football journey that had tremendous athletic ability and physical attributes. But for one reason or another, they never got their shot. These are the people that you never hear about. After a while, they, like me, are sitting on the couch watching football on Sundays and wondering what went wrong, asking themselves, “What if I did this or that?” and just wishing they could be out there playing.

    That’s why the Semi – Pro level exists. Because it facilitates the needs of football players who can’t give up the game. The age range for players are 18-45. There are no tv reporters, our games aren’t broadcasted, the newspapers don’t care, no hype, no nothing. Our crowd consists of some friends who have time to go to the game and wives and girlfriends who are forced to attend. But to us playing in the game, it doesn’t even matter. We just can’t fathom the thought of giving up football. There is always a chance in our minds.

    In my twenties, I started sending out VHS tapes to every NFL Team at least twice a year to no response. Then it became DVD’s to every NFL Team to no response. Then you come to the realization when you are 34 years old, that it’s over. You have no chance. The next thing you know you end up turning all of your football memories into a BBQ because you realize that you have failed. Consequently, you put on 60 pounds as an excuse not to play because you know you can’t compete being out of shape.

    I’m also sure most of you on this forum know at least one person who should have played in the NFL because they are an amazing athlete and they are not. Not everyone who is amazing makes it, and that’s just life. Anybody here knows Terrell Sinkfield? Probably not. I didn’t know about him until I typed in “fastest 40 yard dash” on Google. He ran a 40 at his pro combine in 4.19 seconds. According to my 10 second research, that’s the fastest documented time. He’s not in the NFL.

    So with that being said, on a personal note, I am oddly motivated by all of this. So here is what I propose. I was at 280 lbs in January. I am now down to 240 lbs. Sometime in July, I will post a date on the football website inviting all of you to come down to McKinley. With 5 months to train, I am guessing I can get get my 40 time down to a 4.4 at around 205-220. I will run two 40 yard dashes. If I don’t run a 4.4 (which is respectable for a 39-year-old man), I will buy everyone there pizza and soda, and we can hang out and talk story. Either way it should be fun for everyone 🙂



  9. Joe February 11, 2015 3:24 pm

    That’s nothing. NBC’s Brian Williams says he ran a 3.99. In all seriousness, the fastest 40 yard time in NFL combine history was run by Chris Johnson @ 4.24 seconds. To say the claim of 4.19 is a stretch would be an understatement.

  10. Joshua Noga February 11, 2015 4:48 pm

    Mahalo Coach Cantiberos,

    I recently loss a lot of weight (almost 6olbs in 60 days) which I thought was impossible so I will not say what is possible or not possible. Mahalo for your invitation I will be there this summer with my stopwatch to watch a 39 year old run a 4.4 40-yd dash. Hell in my book if you come anywhere near sub 4.6 your a winner. If you haven’t tried Purium I got a $50 gift card for you go to code: ulumanaia because I want to see you do it. Mahalo for your inspirational story, I am a GOV but I am excited to watching your Tigers play this season. GO GOVS!!!

  11. Guest February 19, 2015 12:03 pm

    Congratulations on getting the job Coach. But I think you should be focusing on rebuilding that program and not focusing on what you use to run the 40. I know your intentions are to inspire, but it’s already becoming a distraction for you. Word of advice, stay away from these forums/website. No matter what you do, there will always be those who are not happy. A good thing about coming in to coach a 0-7 team is that you can either remain 0-7 or you can better. Personally I hope your team gets better. Wish you nothing but success for you an your program. But coming on here defending your past will not help you. Let your work with the kids speak for you. After all it’s THEIR TIME TO SHINE. mahalo.

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