New Radford head coach Passos looks ahead

Safety Jonah Soakai, pictured preparing for the Division II state championship game in November, will be a key returner for Radford under new coach Lon Passos. Cindy Ellen Russell / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Safety Jonah Soakai, pictured preparing for the Division II state championship game in November, will be a key returner for Radford under new coach Lon Passos. Cindy Ellen Russell / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Lon Passos had a bit of a chuckle when he was told we at Hawaii Prep World heard he was the new Radford football coach.

He knows what he’s in for, and he’s looking forward to it.

As outgoing coach Fred Salanoa knew during his 13 years at the helm, it can be an all-consuming task to coach a high school football program.


“It’s a bigger job now,” said Passos with a little bit of of a ‘what am I getting into’ joking laugh. “I was doing some before (as an assistant under Salanoa and as one of the school’s two assistant athletic directors), helping Fred with things like grade checks. Now I’ll be doing ‘all.’ ”

Passos is a 1991 graduate of Damien, where he played center and the other offensive line positions. He’s from Waialua.

“I was the first to arrive and the last to leave practice before, so that’s not going to change.”


Eric Lalau, who was a linebacker on Radford’s 1981 Prep Bowl championship team under coach John Velasco, will be Passos’ defensive coordinator.

Passos said he plans to run an offense similar to the spread, no-huddle that was run under Salanoa. He will leave the defensive plans up to Lalau.

Four players are among those who will lead the Rams — the defending Division II state champions — into Division I next season, according to Passos. They are senior offensive lineman Talatonu Von Koptel, senior defensive backs Sipa Leafa and Jonah Soakai, and junior defensive tackle Aaron Faumui. Von Koptel is a three-year letterman and Leafa and Soakai have two years of varsity football under their belts.


“We have a big task (moving up to Division I),” Passos said. “It’s our job as coaches to get them ready. It will be a lot of work.”

Passos added that having four Radford administrators or teachers around in unofficial capacities will be a big help — principal James Sunday, vice principal Albert Hetrick, athletic director Kelly Sur and Salanoa (resource teacher). Sur is a former Rams head coach and Sunday and Hetrick have been Radford football assistants in the past.

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