Dom Ahuna won’t call plays from the ‘Iolani sideline, but his coaching efforts could be a key to the Raiders’ season.
Ahuna oversees the Raiders’ strength and conditioning program, which figures to prove vital in maximizing a shallow depth chart.
“Coach Dom does a great job with us in the weight room and conditioning wise. It’s tough but it’s going to be worth it,” senior quarterback Tai-John Mizutani said.
Mizutani said much of the emphasis of the training program is on injury prevention which takes on added significance with a 36-player roster and a sizable percentage slated to contribute on both sides of the ball, particularly on the line of scrimmage.
“We have to focus more on perfection and just because our numbers are so small we just can’t get hurt,” said senior defensive lineman Jake Angelo. “That’s a big thing for us. We don’t have as may backups, we have 10 less players than last year and last year was still kind of rough.”
‘Iolani annually relied on quickness and precision to offset smaller numbers and voters ranked the Raiders 10th in the Star-Advertiser’s preseason poll. Wendell Look said that emphasis is “times a hundred because of the numbers situation” as he enters his 27th season as head coach.
Mizutani returns for his third year as a starter with an experienced receiver unit headlined by senior Justin Genovia, a second-team All-State selection last year. Junior defensive backs Kaua Nishigaya and Kyler Mento are among the most experienced members of the defense after breaking into the lineup as sophomores.
While the Raiders may be short on numbers — in depth and stature — those who committed to the preparing for the season have already earned the admiration of the veteran coach.
“I give these kids so much credit and respect these guys so much,” Look said.
For ‘Iolani’s complete season preview in today’s newspaper, click here.