Bryant Moniz has been through all kinds of adversity, but nothing stopped his will.
Now he gets back to football at the high school level as the new offensive coordinator at Moanalua. New head coach Vince Nihipali confirmed the hiring on Wednesday.
Moniz knows the underdog path well. Growing up in Wahiawa, playing through the Mililani Pop Warner system, becoming an All-State quarterback for Leilehua under then-coach Nolan Tokuda, overcoming injuries to start at Hawaii, then playing four seasons in the CFL, the road has been busy and rewarding.
Moniz left that world, retiring as an athlete. His wife and three children, back home in the islands, needed him, and he needed them.
“For me, it was my family. My last season up there (in the CFL) was hard for me being away from them. I can create something for them, make some top dollars, but it came down to I’m missing out on valuable time, missing birthdays, missing things as a dad. I felt it was time to step away from the game and do my duties as a dad,” he said.
For the past few years, he has run a football academy for youngsters like his oldest son in the 6-12 age range. His oldest child is 11, and the youngest is 2.
“My first job is being a dad. My wife works 9 to 5. My schedule, I can set it so I can take our kids to school, pick them up, take them to their sports. It’s fun. I really enjoy it,” Moniz said on Thursday morning.
Nihipali saw Moniz, who graduated from Leilehua in 2006, play during those years. They had a mutual friend in Saint Louis offensive line coach Rob Crowell.
“I was looking for someone like him, someone who’s great with kids. I got his number and gave him a ring. I met with him last Friday and we talked football a good two-and-a-half hours,” Nihipali said. “We have a lot of common, know a lot of the same people, a lot of the same philosophy about football. We meshed pretty well and he told me he’d get back to me in a day. Twelve hours later, he said, ‘Let’s do it.’ ”
The ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic has put a crimp in the coaches’ offseason plan.
“It’s a weird time. A tough time. I’m overly anxious and I can’t even meet the boys,” Moniz said. “I’m ready to get going and they keep pushing back the date to return to school. With a new staff, any training the kids are on their own.”
At Leilehua, he prospered in a hybrid offense that borrowed from disparate schemes from Florida State and the San Francisco 49ers. He got hurt running a read-option play in preseason against Kamehameha. That collarbone injury cost him his entire junior season. He rebounded as a senior, then went on to UH, where he was at the bottom of the depth chart.
“Coach Ron (Lee) and Coach (Nick Rolovich) were a big part of it, being in their offices, just trying to listen, absorb and learn. I’m thankful to them for giving me their time,” Moniz said. “Learning the mental aspect, the pre-snap reads, knowing where the defense is going, who we’re trying to attack.”
The CFL, Moniz said, offered a different landscape.
“The game is much different. There’s definitely a learning curve. A lot of studying. Our offensive coordinator would input 15 new plays each week just for the team we’re playing,” he recalled. “Whereas at UH, it was this is what we do, learn it, execute it and be great at it.”
Moniz has his own offensive playbook. It won’t be a big difference from what he thrived in at Hawaii — the four-wide, or run and shoot — but he is also flexible.
“Any good OC will play to the strengths of his players. If you have two good running backs, you can’t run a single running-back offense, or you convert one to receiver. If you QB isn’t the best passer, you run RPO. You have to adjust to your personnel,” Moniz said. “I have my own thoughts and things I want to do. I’ve been pretty fortunate to have played for all the biggest names of the run-and-shoot. June Jones in Canada. Ron, Mouse Davis. Anybody whose name is associated with the shoot, I’ve learned a lot of knowledge from.”
The primary intangible he wants from the offensive unit should lead to tangible results.
“I want work ethic. I want them to understand what it takes. Coach Vinny put it like this. I’m self-made, not that I did it on my own, but I worked my butt off to get up the depth chart at UH, to overcome injuries to play in the CFL. I fought my way and worked hard,” Moniz said. “When I get out there, they’ll see it takes a lot of hard work to be successful at everything. We want to coach up great young men. You’ve got to bust your butt in the weight room, film room, and be focused and paying attention at practice.”