An Honest
Day’s Word

By Joe Edwards

Wednesday, June 23, 1999

Hawaii getting
a real, live

THIS and that to chew on over lunch:

The alumni list at the American Football Association's Minor League Hall of Fame is one that will turn your head.

Johnny Unitas.
Coy Bacon.
Bob Kuechenberg.
Eric Swann.
Otis Sistrunk.
Bill Walsh.
Vince Lombardi.

On Saturday, you'll be able to include Hawaii's Sonny Souza on that list.

Souza, a major on the Honolulu Police Department, will be one of five coaches, 11 players and a handful of others who will gain induction into the Minor League Hall in Canton, Ohio.

It's a place Souza never thought he'd be. But there he is, after coaching semi-pro football in Hawaii.

He currently guides the Leeward Chiefs and the Hawaii All-Stars, but Souza has been coaching one sport or another for more than 30 years. Little League baseball, high school football. It doesn't matter, Souza says, he just likes having an effect on the lives of young people.

"I love to coach sports," Souza said. "I've been involved in (coaching) sports ever since I moved to Honolulu.

"I started out in the '60s with the Little League program."

That he is coaching and reaching young people is no surprise. That he is doing it through football is, somewhat.

Souza, you see, never played football growing up on Kauai.

He played baseball and basketball and paddled outrigger canoe.

His mother, though, wouldn't let him play football, he said.

"I guess it was because I was her only son and she didn't want me to get hurt," he chuckled.

Souza played his first organized football game in Korea in 1956 after he joined the Army. He also played while stationed at Fort Polk in Louisiana.

Souza also has coached intermediate and high school football. He was an assistant at Mililani when Maa Tanuvasa was a standout there.

Coaching, Souza says, also is "a way to extend myself as a police officer into the community."

There won't be a televised induction ceremony Saturday as there is when the NFL guys are enshrined. But after that day, we'll all be able to call Maj. Sonny Souza a real, live Hall-of-Famer.


Speaking of football, I'm excited about a state prep football playoff.

Even if the neighbor island teams can't hang with the likes of St. Louis, I say the playoff is a good idea. If Maui High, for instance, should beat one of the Oahu teams in the first round, it's something players, their families and classmates will remember forever.

On the other hand, I have an idea that might have been more intriguing.

Turn the Oahu Interscholastic Association into two conferences. Not East and West, but power-based as it is in football now.

Play the conference seasons. Then throw the top four OIA teams in with the top four ILH teams to form a Class AA playoff.

Take the top four teams from the weaker OIA conference, the Big Island Interscholastic Federation champ, the Kauai Interscholastic Federation champ and the Maui Interscholastic League champ and a wild-card team from one of the three neighbor islands and play the Class A playoffs.

Play both the A and AA title games at Aloha Stadium on the same day. Double-header.

Now that would be a Prep Bowl, huh?

Joe Edwards is sports editor of the Star-Bulletin.

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