NINTH IN A SERIES ON SPRING FOOTBALL PRACTICES ON OAHU
It’s a new era for Waianae football, and the path the Seariders follow in the near future starts now during spring drills under first-year coach Walter Young.
Many devoted fans of the Waianae program remember the 18 Oahu Interscholastic Association championships from 1962 to 1997. They also recall the 14 Oahu Prep Bowl appearances, including three titles and one co-title, from 1973 to 1998.
Since the state tournament started in ’99, the Seariders have been to just one Division I state championship game, in 2010, despite fielding winning, competitive teams throughout that time.
But the prideful fans know there is great potential for their dedicated football players.
It’s Young’s intention to give the community what it wants — a football contender, and more, every year.
“We’ve got a bunch of good kids, enthusiastic, upbeat, ready to go,” Young said during a Friday morning practice. “A good, positive attitude.”
Young is coming off a title season with the Seariders JV team. He says it’s a big plus that the players moving up are familiar with his system, but is fully aware that JV championships don’t necessarily transfer to varsity titles.
“A lot is riding on discipline,” the coach said. “I’ve sent some kids home from practice already for their grades. Discipline includes schoolwork. You’ve got to do everything you’re supposed to do if you want to be a high school football player.”
Young said the Seariders will employ their customary wing-T option offense as a base and add to it. He expects to be passing the ball a bit more than in the past.
One thing Waianae won’t do, however, is get to the line as fast as possible on offense, something that is all the rage throughout the country.
“We want the clock to run to shorten the game to our advantage,” Young said.
That type of game plan is dependent on a defense doing its job, and Waianae has always been a tough customer when it comes to defense. Last season, Waianae finished 5-4 and lost to Farrington in the OIA quarterfinals.
“Things are going good and everyone is hustling,” 6-foot-3, 240-pound senior defensive end Joey Nu‘uanu-Kuhi‘iki said during Friday’s session. “Coach Young brings a lot of fire and attitude. He’s a new coach and we are depending on him.
“We just want to be getting better. We came up short last year and we can probably make it farther. That’s our goal.”
Middle linebacker Jaylen Gonzales is a returning playmaker and can’t think of a better way to spend a Friday morning than on the practice field.
“It’s been a long year,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this (spring practice). We’re all tight and coach (Young) pushes us a lot. It’s only for the better. I feel ready and feel the motivation and the defense is getting hyped. We work extra hard to get the ball to the offense.”
And that’s exactly the ball-control, time-management plan. The defense has to get the ball back for the offense to do its thing.
Safety/outside linebacker Ikaika Paaoao-Ahina and cornerback Mosiah Brame are among the other key returnees on the defensive side of the ball.
When the fall season starts, guards Levi Jenks and Jonah Maga will anchor the line.
Three players will compete for the starting quarterback job — Royce Carrick, Jorell Pontes-Borge and Jaren Ulu.
Carrick and Pontes-Borge saw some action behind starter Ioane Kaluhiokalani, now graduated, a year ago. Ulu is up from the JV team.
Tight end Kanai Mauga, another player moving up from the JV team, is a capable receiver, Young said.
Veteran running back Jurick Valdez, a senior, is loving spring drills so far.
“We’re one step ahead of where I thought we’d be,” he said. “Coach concentrates on conditioning. We run more and we’re getting more in shape, and that should help us last through the fourth quarter.”
Not that Waianae has ever had trouble in the fourth quarter. The Seariders have proven throughout the years that they never give up.
“We’re working more on footwork and we have more high-tech practice equipment,” Valdez added. “Last year was more about ball control. Now our footwork is a lot better.
“Last year we only made it to the (second round of the) playoffs. This year, we want to at least make it to the semifinals and try to make it to the championship.”
Previously in the series on spring football practices —
PART 1 >> KAHUKU, May 18 practice: http://www.hawaiiprepworld.com/football/first-day-of-practice-like-christmas-for-tata/
PART 2 >> ‘IOLANI, May 19 practice: http://www.hawaiiprepworld.com/football/iolani-football-team-cranked-up-for-d-i/
PART 3 >> PUNAHOU, May 22 practice: http://www.hawaiiprepworld.com/football/punahous-primary-football-pieces-still-in-place/
PART 4 MILILANI, May 26 practice: http://www.hawaiiprepworld.com/football/mililani-drives-to-steer-clear-of-being-average/
PART 5 KAISER, May 27 practice: http://www.hawaiiprepworld.com/football/kaiser-eager-for-oia-and-state-football-ascent/
PART 6 CAMPBELL, June 1 practice: http://www.hawaiiprepworld.com/football/amosa-campbell-want-a-bonding-like-no-other/
PART 7 NANAKULI, June 2 practice: http://www.hawaiiprepworld.com/football/nanakuli-perked-up-to-repeat-in-oia-and-more/
PART 8 PEARL CITY, June 4 practice:http://www.hawaiiprepworld.com/football/pearl-city-determined-to-stay-gripped-near-top/