HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
High school football kicks off
The nonconference seasons begins with games tomorrow
If anyone has a busy time this weekend, it might be Lincoln Barit.
The longtime Waialua coach will be juggling trips and cars, and he'll even get to enjoy luxury accommodations on the Big Island.
"We're staying at the Honokaa Hilton," Barit said in his interpretation of the Bulldogs' weekend quarters. The Bulldogs will stay at historic Lester Bryan Armory, Honokaa's adopted gym for decades.
Waialua is one of many teams suiting up for nonconference games this weekend. Other notable games include defending state champion Kahuku against Punahou tomorrow at Aloha Stadium, Damien at Kapolei, and Saint Louis versus McKinley in a battle at Kaiser. All three games kick off at 7 p.m.
Last year, Waialua had one of its finest seasons in a long time. The Bulldogs barely missed the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Conference playoffs. They finished in a tie for the final spot, and the berth was decided by a coin flip.
Barit won't let his team, which includes nine returning starters on offense, dwell on what could have been. A win in the second-to-last week of the season would have made the difference, he noted, but the 'Dogs fell to Kalaheo.
This season, the team gets a treat by traveling into the heart of Dragon country for a Saturday contest at 7 p.m. Honokaa is long known for providing tough competition on the field and a hearty atmosphere off it. Honokaa's coach, former Saint Louis guru Ron Marciel, has a team that has lost many players to graduation, just like Waialua.
Jacob Barit, a standout linebacker at Saint Louis, will be in action tomorrow. That means his dad, Lincoln, will take his team to Honokaa tomorrow morning, catch an afternoon flight back to Honolulu and watch the Saint Louis-McKinley game. The coach will then hop on an early Saturday flight back to the Big Island. The trips to Honokaa include 40-mile treks to and from Hilo Airport.
The team, however, will be happily stationed in Honokaa. Despite a Division II
designation, the Bulldogs have one of the more versatile quarterbacks in the state with Caleb Forte. All four starting receivers return, including 6-foot-4 Joshua Whittaker.
Kahuku, meanwhile, is out to defend its title while introducing a new coach. Reggie Torres isn't familiar on the varsity level when it comes to football, but his near two-decade stint as a championship wrestling coach is unmatched. The Red Raiders are huge up front, but are ringing in first-time starters in many offensive skill positions.
Defensively, Kahuku lost a ton of talent, including twin playmakers Kevin Unga and Devin Unga. They were two of the nine Red Raiders who signed with Division I colleges in February. Still, defensive leader Kaniela Tuipulotu expects much of the same dominant Kahuku defense.
"We'll be solid. We're not as experienced, but we got guys who can step up," he said.
Once a 215-pound freshman, Tuipulotu transferred to Kahuku before his sophomore year and moved from running back to defensive tackle. He was 251 pounds as an All-State junior, but is now 290 pounds and still has impressive speed. Because the coaching staff hasn't yet ruled out the possibility of using him as a bulldozer back in goal-line situations, Tuipulotu switched numbers from 50 to 1.
Punahou, which won its first Interscholastic League of Honolulu championship last season in 28 years, has holes to fill defensively. Offensively, however, the Buffanblu return a large number of talented speedsters, led by All-State receiver Miah Ostrowski. Quarterback Brett Kan, who nearly led the Buffanblu to a comeback win over Kahuku in the state title game, is also back for his senior year. Punahou's potent run-and-shoot offense will give Kahuku plenty to think about in the first nonconference game for both squads.