Darren Hernandez walked sternly on to the Kapolei football field when the stadium announcer gave the fans a nod that the team was heading out of the locker room.
He was immediately followed by linebacker Tyler Vasega holding a huge sledgehammer over his shoulder and walking a proudly like Paul Bunyan holding his ax. A few seconds later, the rest of the players ran single file out to the field to warm up for their game against Campbell.
By the end of the night, Kapolei owned the victory, 38-0, and they owned the sledgehammer, which will be given to the winner of the Kapolei-Campbell game in perpetuity.
Hernandez and Campbell head coach Amosa Amosa got the go-ahead from Sabers athletic director Sam Delos Reyes and Hurricanes AD Darren Camello to up the ante in this already intense rivalry.
“We want to bring the fun back to the kids and the community,” Hernandez said. “When I was the head coach at Campbell, I hired Amosa as my offensive coordinator. We are good friends. This is for the spirit of the game. It’s the ‘Sledgehammah’ Showdown.”
The trophy is one of two new to the westside. Hernandez also set up the War Club Trophy with Waianae head coach Walter Young. The name of that game will be “The Clash for the Club,” and Kapolei hosts Waianae for the right to hold that trophy Saturday night.
The trophy ideas came to Hernandez, who recalls playing for Campbell against Waipahu in the Caneknife Classic. When those two schools play in football, they get to keep the Caneknife Trophy, which is wrapped in a reversible cloth — one side blue and yellow for Waipahu and the other side orange and black for Campbell.
The ‘Sledgehammah,’ which was made by Sake Ikuvalu Hafoka Valu and Monika Uliafu Vehikite, weighs about 50 pounds and was carved out of one slab of monkeypod wood, according to Hernandez. It has the Kapolei logo on one side and the Campbell logo on the other.
Both Amosa and Hernandez said that the sledgehammer was fitting to signify the building up of the Kapolei and Ewa area. Kapolei is the second city and Ewa has seen its share of growth and renewal.
“It’s an awesome, beautiful piece of art,” Hernandez said.
“It’s kind of a symbol of the working class and the Second City being built,” Amosa added.
Hernandez hopes it brings more significance to the rivalry.
“Of course, we want that hammer,” Amosa said.
Not until next year, at least, unless the teams meet in the postseason.
As for the War Club Trophy, Waianae’s Young said, “It’s cool. I think it’s awesome and gives the kids something to strive for.”
The War Club Trophy is a Hawaiian leiomano, or shark’s tooth war club, and it has the Kapolei and Waianae logos on it. It was carved out of Hawaiian koa wood by Jonah Kaawa, Hernandez said.