Savai’i Eselu steps down as Moanalua football coach

Savai’i Eselu made quite a mark during his time as Moanalua football coach. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

The brain drain from Hawaii to the mainland may never end.

They know it well at Moanalua, where football coach Savai’i Eselu is taking a big step to the next level. After guiding Na Menehune on the gridiron for the past four years, including an 18-3 record in the past two seasons, Eselu will be announced as the new tight ends coach at San Diego State.

Moanalua will make an official statement once SDSU makes the hiring official. Moanalua players met with Eselu on Friday. Former players like senior slotback Rudy Kealohi found out through the grapevine.

“I heard about it around school. He told the players, the upcoming players for next year,” Kealohi said. “I’m actually happy for him because he’s a great coach. That’s what he deserves, a chance to help his family. He’s been working hard for our program.”

Kealohi was on the JV team during his first two years, then was a starter on varsity the past two.

“He told us to focus on our path and he would do anything to help us,” Kealohi said. “He could coach at any level. He’s inspirational. I wouldn’t have the work ethic I do if he didn’t inspire me to become a better player. He had a lot of challenges, but he stuck with it.”

Moanalua went 10-2 last season and won its first OIA Division I title, edging Leilehua 21-20 in double overtime for the championship. Na Menehune lost to eventual finalist ‘Iolani in the state tournament.

Eselu went 27-16 in four seasons as head coach of Na Menehune. His .680 winning percentage is the best out of any of the 10 head coaches in school history and his 27 wins trail only Arnold Martinez, who spent 11 seasons in charge.

Martinez led Moanalua to its only other league title in football — in Division II in 2009.

Eselu played tight end at Cal, where he graduated in 2011 with a degree in Sociology.


  1. Maureen February 2, 2020 6:18 am

    Thank you for taking my precios grandsons and the entire Menehune footbal team to be CHAMPIONS 2018 and 2019, with and without the title. looking forward to hearing greater success to your new team. God bless you and your family.

    How awesome would it be if you coached them again, there at your new home!!! Anything is possible!!! Aloha!!💖

  2. Da troot February 15, 2020 8:37 am

    Anyone when confirm da accuracy? TE coach at San Diego State? Nuting on da SD website. Nuting when Google. Get more to him leaving, when heard Moanalua admin told Eselu da mada no can, too much complaints on him and da mada. Team mom lol. & parent when come on da field after last game to fight him. Plenty Problems.

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