There is so much in common between the Trench Dawgz and Sin City Legendz, it was destiny for them to meet.
The team from Honolulu, Trench Dawgz, pulled away for a 31-13 win over the Legendz on Saturday in an exhibition club game at Bullhead City, Ariz. In Hawaii and Las Vegas, public high school football was cancelled, leaving only private school teams playing exhibition games and scrimmages in Honolulu.
For the Dawgz, the voyage involved hours in the air, through the the desert and just a few hours in the air-conditioned confines of Anderson Auto Group Fieldhouse.
By the end, the Trench Dawgz overpowered the Sin City Legendz, 31-13, in Bullhead City, Ariz. Junior quarterback Jayden Maiava showcased his arm strength and pocket mobility, throwing touchdown passes to Blaze Kamoku and Lilio Kaluna, and Brandon Teixeira ran in a TD on a fake field goal attempt. New addition Kyler Halvorsen drilled one field goal, a four points and nailed touchbacks on each kickoff.
“It was a lot of fun,” senior defensive end/linebacker Jackie Johnson said. “I had a couple of sacks, but they weren’t really running up the middle at all.”
One of his sacks came as a down lineman, which Johnson was familiar with as a player at Roosevelt. He took to middle ‘backer quickly.
“We had to adjust because of our personnel. I only really started practicing it a week to two weeks before the game. I feel more comfortable there every day. I had to cover guys. It was all knew to me, but it was fun,” said Johnson, who will play at Lawrence Tech next season.
Most of the team returned to the islands on Monday night. It was a voyage and a half, really, with the flight to Los Angeles last Tuesday followed by a four-hour drive to Las Vegas. After some workouts with 702 Blessed and Sasa Squad, the Dawgz headed to Bullhead City, less than two hours away.
Alex Lemalu returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, and the Dawgz never trailed. Sin City tied it at 7-all on a long run. The running back reversed field in the backfield on his way to the score.
“Our defense started slow, but we came around,” said Kaeo Akana, who finished with three sacks. “We knew they were quick, so we had to take better angles. He broke contain on me. He had me that play. That was my fault.”
Bullhead City, Akana added, reminds him of Kona.
“It looks like a normal city. They have a casino,” he said.
After the game, they headed right back to Las Vegas for the night, and then faced traffic when they returned to L.A., an eight-hour commute in the four vans rented by the team.
“Kaeo’s grandfather drove our van,” Johnson said.
For Akana and Johnson, and offensive lineman Iapani “Poncho” Laloulu, the game was the culmination of more than a year’s work in the “iron church”, on the beach, on the roads of Pauoa Valley.
“(Sin City), they were all right. They were decent, but I knew they weren’t on the same level as us. They didn’t put in the work that we did,” Akana said.
The original Dawgz worked through the first lockdown, lifting weights in a home gym, running Ala Moana beach a few morning each week.
“We ran in the sand with Coach Jon (Kahooilihala) and his Kolo, his son,” Johnson said.
“I’m definitely going to miss the grind. It was a different type of grind. Nobody was watching. Nobody was doing anything because of COVID,” said Akana, a junior defensive end with more than a dozen scholarship offers.
He plans to take a break for the first time since the pandemic began. The same goes with Johnson.
“Just a little break. We stressed our bodies, so I’ll go back to what we did during COVID time, lifting and eating. Drink a lot of protein shakes between meals,” Akana said.
Johnson might catch up with some fishing time.
“Kaeo is going to start doing college visits. I’m going to spend time with family,” he said. “I think we handled the pandemic well. A lot of people were stressing out.”
Meanwhile, the Trench Dawgz have begun their JPS Oahu high school division season without two of their originals.
“Coach Whit (Fehoko) wants us to do what’s best for us,” Johnson said. “He loves us and always respects what we do. I know they’re getting a lot of new guys. It’s a culture with Trench Dawgz. The boys bring it and when you’re around it, you start picking up the vibes.”
Video by AG Sports Video