In the land of purple people with a purpose, Robin Kami is the instiller.
Kami was a youth coach for years before entering the Chargers program, and in the years since becoming head football coach at Pearl City High School, the constant has been simple: Team.
The Chargers are 4-0 in Oahu Interscholastic Association Division II play after a 21-7 win over previously unbeaten Waipahu on a wet Saturday night at Aiea High School’s field. The Chargers have all the earmarks of a supremely prepared team. Five different running backs shared the load as Kami and his staff turned an early 14-0 lead into a walk into a sprint. Isaiah Asinsin, their tall, poised quarterback, rushed for 65 yards on just six carries and probably could’ve had more.
Most of Pearl City’s biggest gains early on were on Asinsin scrambles out of the pocket after his receivers had cleared the field. Up two TDs, Pearl City put the game on chill mode and took practically all risk out of the equation. The Chargers were more than willing to ground and pound out of their pistol formation. And when that didn’t move the chains, defensive lineman/special teams monster Zion Tupuola-Fetui (6-foot-4, 240) was a major weapon as a punter.
Tupuola-Fetui, who nearly blocked a few punts and also caught a two-point PAT pass, punted six times with a long of 55 yards. The junior averaged 35.5 yards per punt despite soggy conditions, playing the entire game on defense and engaging in special teams.
It was textbook, controlling the game with defense, kicking game and a deliberate offense that was in anti-hurry up mode. Unlike a wild offensive show put on by Saint Louis and Punahou one night earlier that featured 62 offensive plays by the Crusaders and 75 by the Buffanblu, Pearl City controlled the clock and their fate. The Chargers ran the ball 38 times for 168 yards. Only six of the carries were of 10 yards or more, including four by Asinsin, but they plugged and pounded along, keeping Waipahu’s offense on the sideline.
“We did really good, execute our plays, execute our blocks as an O-line, pretty much, but I think we’ve got to do a better job at finishing,” senior right guard Jasen Pong said. “We’re not the biggest offensive line compared to their line, but we work together as one.”
Pearl City finished with 54 plays for 217 yards of total offense. Waipahu finished with 64 rushing yards on 24 carries, and Braden Amorozo was 7-for-22 with a pick and 133 passing yards. Keeping Waipahu to 46 total offensive plays was a big factor.
“I was surprised at how we played in this weather,” Kami said. “We stuck with our game plan. We were going under center (after the rain fell), but we decided to stay with the shotgun. Our center (Roman Moeone) did a great job. Our defense did a great job.”
One of Kami’s major gifts is an ability to teach his teams to sell out for their teammates. There is no superstar system in place.
“We depend on everybody. The quarterback does his job. The receivers do their job. The running backs run. Everybody chips in,” he said. “We rotate everybody. They run hard at practice and everybody gets a chance to play.”
The Chargers have remained competitive and challenging for the OIA D-II title despite the graduation of talent year after year.
“We’ll take a couple of days off,” Kami said, referring to next week’s bye. “They did a good job. We have to take it one game at a time. Don’t get big-headed about it for one win. There’s a lot of games left to play.”
Pong, a 6-1, 250-pound senior, is as grounded as any Charger.
“We have to keep working hard. We have two weeks off, and then McKinley,” he said. “Waipahu gave us a hard rub today.”