Stylin’ and profilin’: Media ranks helmets

Damien's white helmet at the press conference had a Lion King-ish Mufasa design that had a definite Wow Factor. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Nov. 14, 2017)

While coaches went through their Hawaii High School Athletic Association pre-championship round meeting at Aloha Stadium, media members got a close up of the championship and runner-up trophies.

They also go to admire the details of each helmet, all six of the programs that reached the final round of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships. Protection can be a work of art.

Back in the 1990s, gauging the fashion meter of each team in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation was part of the fun for this pupule sportswriter. From town to town, community to community, each team’s colors and designs were different and nicknames represented something that went back in time, decades in the making.

This isn’t about 240-pound running back Baba Ignacio donning Honokaa’s wondrous shiny yellow pants of the ‘90s. It’s just helmets, and I got plenty of feedback from new and old friends today.

Here are ballots of final-round helmets.

KITV Sports Anchor Brandi Higa is a fan of all the helmets on display. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Nov. 14, 2017)

Brandi Higa, KITV, “Sportsaholic”
1. Hilo Vikings. “This helmet smells like it has cologne in it. I like the glitter sparkle.”
2. Kahuku Red Raiders
3. Saint Louis Crusaders
4. Damien Monarchs
5. Lahainaluna Lunas
6. Konawaena Wildcats

Star-Advertiser Dennis Oda took a selfie of himself wearing a Hilo Vikings helmet. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Nov. 14, 2017)

Dennis Oda, Star-Advertiser photographer
1. Hilo Vikings
2. Lahainaluna Lunas
3. Kahuku Red Raiders
4. Saint Louis Crusaders
5. Damien Monarchs
6. Konawaena Wildcats

KITV’s MG Montemayor, like many of the media waiting for the coaches press conference, was mesmerized by the stickers on the Hilo helmet. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Nov. 14, 2017)

MG Montemayor, KITV, “Duchess of the Gridiron”
1. Hilo Vikings. “I like the color scheme and the extraness of the stickers.”
2. Damien Monarchs
3. Saint Louis Crusaders
4. Kahuku Red Raiders
5. Konawaena Wildcats
6. Lahainaluna Lunas

The Wildcats of Konawaena have an-house, recent design. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Nov. 14, 2017)

Reed Shimizu, Cover2
1. Hilo Vikings
2. Damien Monarchs
3. Kahuku Red Raiders
4. Lahainaluna Lunas
5. Saint Louis Crusaders
6. Konawaena Wildcats

The Saint Louis Crusaders have used this logo for decades. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Nov. 14, 2017)

Spencer Honda, Scoring Live #uniwatch808
1. Damien. “The number helps us I.D. players.”
2. Hilo Vikings
3. Kahuku Red Raiders
4. Konawaena Wildcats
5. Saint Louis Crusaders
6. Lahainaluna Lunas

Kahuku’s new-school design is classic and iconic. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Nov. 14, 2017)

David McCracken, Hawaii News Now
1. Kahuku Red Raiders. “It’s simple. I like that. It has a ‘Remember the Titans’ feel.”
2. Damien Monarchs
3. Saint Louis Crusaders
4. Hilo Vikings
5. Lahainaluna Lunas
6. Konawaena Wildcats

Six teams will take the field Saturday at Aloha Stadium and three will be crowned state champions. Photo by Dennis Oda/Star-Advertiser.

Paul Honda, Hawaii Prep World/Star-Advertiser
1. Hilo Vikings. I’m a big fan of these merit-based stickers, going back to the era of the 1970s and ‘80s when Hawaii had mini-Warriors on their white helmets. Hilo, with goldenrod helmet-horn emblems, has a nice royal blue sparkle to their paint work. It’s art. Plain and simple, it’s something Hilo alums would love to decorate their caves with. The Robert Medeiros/Casey Newman/Tod Bello-era yellow helmets of the 1990s were distinct. These current hats are art. Pupule rating: 3.9 (out of 4 stars).

2. Damien Monarchs. The helmet that was brought to the stadium today had a Mufasa metallic gold and deep purple design on the right side, and the player’s number on the left. This is not what the Monarchs wear on the field, but this helmet alone was WOW. Pupule rating: 3.5 (out of 4 stars).

3. Kahuku Red Raiders. This has basically stayed the same over the years, but the nice touch here is the Native American look with a Polynesian shark-teeth vertical design on the face. Art is art and this works for me. Pupule rating: 3.3 (out of 4 stars).

As classic as it gets. The Lahainaluna Lunas helmet is historic to the nth degree. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser (Nov. 14, 2017)

4. Lahainaluna Lunas. Sometimes, basics and history blend together to make a strong, bold statement in a style that is simple and elegant. This helmet is worthy of every former player’s trophy case. The first English school west of the Mississippi, an iconic logo that goes back nearly two centuries. It fits the mode of the program and the personality of its coaches and players. Pupule rating: 3.0 (out of 4 stars).

5. Konawaena Wildcats. The old-school Wildcats of the ‘80s and ‘90s had a very Boston Celtics simplicity to the uniform design, and it still holds true in some ways. The current kelly green jerseys have stripes at the biceps, whereas the old uniform was plain green and no stripes. The helmet used to have no stripes, just white from the crown to the facemask. This look has three stripes, which I tend to like, though green and black are not my favorite color combination. The art of the Wildcat is original, designed by a relative of Coach Brad Uemoto.

He noted that the nickname came from a trip to Honolulu by the team in 1928. Back then, they were the Konawaena Knights — wearing blue uniforms — having formed just two years earlier. They played Saint Louis at the old Honolulu Stadium, and a radio announcer said, ‘This team plays like Wildcats.’

“Boom, the name stuck,” Uemoto said.

The current helmet gets bonus points for being original art and at least trying to do something unique. Pupule rating: 2.8 (out of 4 stars).

6. Saint Louis Crusaders. The logo is a part of the football program’s lore. It’s ancient and part fun, part historical. There were real Crusaders back several centuries ago, and as one on-air personality mentioned, nobody fights like that if he’s wearing armor. I never thought about that. There may come a day when a new logo or design graces the navy blue and red helmet. Until then, this is much like the Boston Celtics leprechaun logo at midcourt, or Penn State’s plan, yet well-branded style of fashion. You know it’s Saint Louis when you see it. Adding some glitter to the helmet paint, or updating the logo — not top priorities. Understandably so, for the defending champions. Pupule rating: 2.5 (out of 4).


  1. Jus Saying November 15, 2017 12:42 pm

    Just a correction Bruddah Paul, that is the same helmet and design that Damien wears on the field.

  2. wafan November 15, 2017 6:21 pm

    The St. Louis Crusader is a take off of the ND Fighting Leprechaun.

  3. Paul Honda November 15, 2017 8:51 pm

    Thanks for the correction, Jus Saying. That means the regular DM logo is on the left side where the number was on this helmet.

  4. Choloropicrin November 16, 2017 12:09 am

    Didn’t the Crusaders have “Saints” for decades? And the newer logo as of more recent?

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