Kamehameha shaped by 4-a-days


POSTED: Sunday, August 09, 2009

For years, Kamehameha relied on a bread-and-butter ground attack that resulted in plenty of wins.

Fans wanted more, though. Even with a state championship in 2004, fans clamored for something different.

In the past two seasons, they got something a bit different. David Stant's flexible approach to offense brought in pistol sets, wide splits between center and guards, and an affinity for passing the ball.

Alas, the best-laid plans didn't lead to a state title last season. Kamehameha played tough against some of the state's best teams, including eventual HHSAA champ Punahou, but finished 4-4 in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.

Momentum is building, though, and Stant's prints are all over the program. The third-year head coach has a balanced defense and a lethal offensive weapon in running back Ryan Ho. Can the Warriors go aerial as much as Stant would like? That remains to be seen. One thing is certain: The Warriors are in great shape.

Stant put the team through four-a-day practices at camp earlier in the week.

“;I thought it was going to be crazy, but once we saw the schedule, it wasn't as crazy,”; running back Ryan Ho said. “;We had about 60-something snaps (at each practice).”;

The constant reps were needed for a team with so many first-year varsity players.

With steady play from the offensive line, the Warriors will contend. For now, they are the No. 6 team in the Star-Bulletin Preseason Football Top 10. Ho and his teammates aren't paying much attention to rankings, though.

“;I just try to avoid it and keep our team focused. It's not about what people think,”; the senior said.

2008: 7-5 (4-4 ILH). The Warriors finished seventh in last year's final Top 10.

On paper: Kamehameha has six starters back on offense and another half-dozen returning on defense.





        With the high school football season approaching, the Star-Bulletin is counting down its preseason Top 10:

10. Waianae
        9. 'Iolani
        8. Mililani
        7. Kapolei
        6. Kamehameha
        5. Tomorrow
        4. Tuesday
        3. Wednesday
        2. Thursday
        1. Friday







Aug. 21at Kailua
Aug. 29at Waianae
Sept. 5'Iolani*
Sept. 12Punahou*
Sept. 26Damien
Oct. 3Saint Louis*
Oct. 9Pac-Five*
Oct. 24Word of Life
Oct. 31Saint Louis*
Nov. 5Punahou*


        *-at Aloha Stadium

2008 (7-5)
        » Kamehameha 35, Kahuku 0
        » Kamehameha 26, Kapolei 18
        » St. John Bosco (Calif.) 23, Kamehameha 14
        » Kamehameha 13, Davis ( Utah) 6
        » Saint Louis 28, Kamehameha 20
        » Punahou 28, Kamehameha 6
        » Kamehameha 48, Damien 0
        » Kamehameha 9, 'Iolani 0
        » Kamehameha 45, Pac-Five 7
        » Kamehameha 45, Pac-Five 7
        » Saint Louis 55, Kamehameha 28
        » Punahou 21, Kamehameha 14





Ho rushed for 1,128 yards in 11 games as a junior—only two other backs in the state amassed more yardage—and scored 11 touchdowns. He also pulled in 13 passes. The Warriors are keeping his workload to a minimum in preseason. He had just a handful of carries in a scrimmage against Mililani on Thursday, but was powerful and elusive, breaking a few tackles on his way to a scoring run of about 40 yards.

“;He's the guy we've got to go to,”; Stant said. “;Ryan's special. We don't feel we need to see what he can do now. We need to see our other running backs. We're five-deep there.”;

One of those reserves, Keanu Ruelke, is a sprinter on the track team. He was a rocket during Thursday's scrimmage, turning a screen pass into a big gain.

Another trackster, Matt Mitravich, has been impressive in preseason.

“;He approached me one day and said he wanted to try out for football,”; Stant said of the 6-foot-2 senior. “;He catches everything.”;

The O-line, with left tackle Chris Brown and right tackle/center Blaze Ryder, doesn't have a set quarterback to protect just yet. Three passers are still battling for the starting spot. Mike Kukahiwa and T.C. Campbell are seniors. Christian Akana is just a sophomore.

“;It's about going through progressions and not locking on to one (target),”; Stant said. “;If they read it, there's going to be someone open. Rhythm, read, rush and run.”;

Landon Aano (5-9, 225), Keko'o Weisbarth-Tafaoimalo (5-8, 230), Beau Yap (6-1, 225) and Koa Ka'ai (6-3, 230) give Kamehameha four returning starters to the defensive line.

Inside linebacker Kawika Stant (5-10, 205) and cornerback Chaz Bajet are two more key components to Kamehameha's complex scheme, which is a direct relative to the Desert Storm defense that was prominent at Arizona in the 1990s.

“;You have to be smart and the line's got to be quick off the ball,”; said Stant, who played in the system as a defensive tackle at UH under then-defensive coordinator Rich Ellerson. “;It's not like a 4-3, where you just line up (in more or less set positions) and hit and have all these pukas.”;

The skinny: Stant is practically obsessed with the task of eliminating mistakes. Dropped passes. There were 52 last year. Penalties in pivotal situations.

“;We're more in control this year,”; Bajet said. “;We can still be aggressive, but we're playing as one unit instead of individuals.”;

X factor: Place-kicker Tarra Gabriel has range up to 40 yards off a snap.

“;The sound of the ball off her foot is different,”; Stant said. “;The boys know she's a great soccer player. She lifts (weights) when we lift. She does everything and she likes to compete.”;

Another new contributor could be Wave Ryder, who moved from wide receiver to safety in the offseason. The 6-2, 190-pound senior looks the part, but faces a steep learning curve.

“;He's doing really well, but we don't know how he's going to react in a real game,”; Stant said. “;He has speed and he's so raw, sponging everything up. No bad habits.”;