Few places on Oahu have gone unchanged over the decades.
Waialua remains as vibrant and serene as ever, in its quiet, understated way. Lifetime residents — and coaches — would have it no other way. When the Waialua Bulldogs face Waipahu on Friday night for the OIA Division II football championship, they’ll be chasing history. Waialua placed first the OIA Blue in 1992 when the league had Red, White and Blue Conferences. There were no conference playoffs. Instead, the top four teams in the Red (toughest division) and top four in the White (second toughest) qualified for the league-wide playoffs, along with the top top from the Blue.
(Note: Current OIA Executive Director Raymond Fujino said the league recognizes Waialua as a conference champion.)
Waialua has not won a league championship title since 1955 — the days of the Rural Oahu Interscholastic Association. The coach then was Toshi Nakasone, namesake of the on-campus field today.
“I think it will mean a lot to this community and it will bring back the pride into our hometown,” longtime coach Lincoln Barit texted.
Under Barit, who is in his 15th season as head coach, the Bulldogs have already achieved a gem for the school, reaching the D-II state tournament for the first time. Even when they had a stout team with Caleb Fore at QB, they didn’t quite reach the postseason.
“Ironically, Caleb’s (senior) year, we fell short and lost to Waipahu,” Barit recalled.
The team a few years back that featured mammoth linemen Graham Crowley (BYU) and Micah Hatchie (Washington)?
“We never made the playoffs,” Barit wrote.
The current edition of the Bulldogs has played well enough, played clutch enough, edging Kaimuki last week to reach the OIA title game. Vestiges of success in the past are standing in the present. Hatchie’s younger brother, Matthan Hatchie, is a stellar two-way lineman/wide receiver who blocks kicks, punts and knocks in PATs. The defense has been steel-tough, and the offense has talent with RBs Risein Campbell and Howard Nahooikaika, and QB Tevesi Toia.
Still, their best game still hasn’t been played in Barit’s eyes. It could come soon. For now, the focus is on the title game, and the gratification of reaching states is real.
“Being from a small town and succeeding is a big accomplishment,” Barit texted, “and it couldn’t have been done without the support of our community and the hard work and commitment of our players, coaches, students, faculty, parents, alumni and everyone that helped along the way.”
Waialua football championships (with coaches)
All titles ROIA
1941 Gordon Tewksbury
1947 Tom Higa (title shared with Kahuku)
1952 Toshi Nakasone
1953 Toshi Nakasone
1954 Toshi Nakasone
1955 Toshi Nakasone
(Note: Mahalo to our friends from Waialua for the information about the Blue Conference championship.)