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Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, September 8, 2000

P R E P _ F O O T B A L L

Waimea in
bloom on the
Garden Island

The Menehunes' blue collar,
smash-mouth program has been
a success for many years


By Nick Abramo

If the University of Hawaii football team had a hard time aligning itself with Rainbows, then the Waimea High School football team just might get offended being associated with flowers.

The Menehunes hail from the Garden Island, and their football program is always in bloom.

See any weeds growing? The coaches make sure to pluck them before they become a problem. Head-cases, egomaniacs or individualists need not apply.

The Menehunes have won eight straight Kauai Interscholastic Federation championships, and have produced fine petals year after year.

They are favored to win the KIF championship and a state tournament berth again this year.

The Menehunes usually have a handful of sizeable linemen, over 6 feet and 200 pounds, but the team is typically made up of small players from the small, proud, tight-knit agricultural west side of Kauai.

"The hard work and the discipline that our boys have is a reflection of our community," said coach Jon Kobayashi, who returns for his eighth year. "We're usually not very big, and we live in a blue collar place. The parents are not architects and lawyers, and they're out there working hard at their jobs every day."

Opposing teams, even if they are bigger or more talented, are always in for a competitive contest against Waimea. Just ask anyone from Punahou, a highly respected Interscholastic League of Honolulu team, or Konawaena, the favorite to win the Big Island Interscholastic Federation title this year. Both teams were felled by the Menehunes in the preseason this year. Or ask anyone from Kailua, a top Oahu Interscholastic Association team whom the Menehunes beat in the first round of the states a year ago.

And there is a glorious history, back to the days of coach Richard Doi, who handed the baton to Tommy Rita and down the line to Pat Pereira, among others.

Waimea fans fondly remember an upset of OIA power Waianae in a preseason game in the 1970s.

According to longtime Waimea supporter Mike Koerte, Waimea coaches are making sure the team's state ranking, which has been as high as No. 4, isn't going to the players' heads.

"The coaches are approaching it like, 'You guys better work like you deserve it,' " Koerte said. "There is definitely no celebrity-type atmosphere concerning the rankings. It just makes them work harder to deserve the honor."

On offense, Kobayashi talks highly of the line which includes tight end Austin Alquiza (6-2, 260), tackles Abraham Apilado (6-4, 280) and Larry Mata (5-9, 163), guards Robert Badua (5-8, 228) and Jordan Banquel (5-4, 160), and center BJ Mariano-Hardy (6-0, 190).

Waimea's other impact players include running backs Jessie Sablan (5-10, 175), who made a splash in the state tournament last year, transfer Joshua May (5-10, 200), Brandon Perreira (5-7, 155), who also plays linebacker, and Chesley Barba (5-4, 134), who doubles at defensive back.

Among the other top performers for the Menehunes include linebacker Ikaika Cabral (5-9, 175), defensive linemen Mike Koerte (5-7, 190) and Mark Ruiz (5-10, 190), and defensive backs Dane Koga (5-4, 130), Aldon Emayo (5-5, 140) and Timmy Chang Wo (5-7, 160).

The Menehunes went 5-0-1 in the KIF last year and 8-1-1 overall, including preseason and postseason games. The only loss was to eventual champion St. Louis in the state semifinals, a game Kobayashi said was invaluable for the experience and knowledge gained.


COACH: Kelii Morgado.

LAST YEAR: 3-2-1 KIF, 4-4-1 overall.

OUTLOOK: The Red Raiders, low on numbers and depth but high on skilled athletes, will be trying to build on their season-ending 0-0 tie with Waimea last year.

Morgado is in his second year of trying to build a program with players who can show a deep commitment to the team. He says the 30 varsity players who have stuck it out through the summer are changing the program for the better.

"We now have a committed, stronger, cohesive team," Morgado said. "From last year to this year, we have a totally different team. We've made quite a few changes in the coaching staff, too."

With 11 starters out for various reasons, Kauai lost, 7-0, to Hawaii Prep and 54-0 to Calvary of Orange County, Calif., in the preseason.

To make a run at the title, Morgado will look to leaders such as senior center Dustin Abrazado (5-8, 225) and senior defensive end Jonathan Wong (6-2, 250).

Another key player is senior linebacker and offensive tackle Chris Speegle (5-9, 160).

Other top Red Raider performers include senior wide receiver and defensive back Anthony Babila (5-7, 170), junior linebacker Dustin Goias (5-5, 150), junior running back Jameson Smith (5-6, 170), and senior noseguard Kaiku Jerves (5-6, 175).

Senior Jeremy Yeats (5-9, 155) and junior Kamoi Refamonte (5-9, 140) are the quarterbacks.


COACH: Gordon Muramaru.

LAST YEAR: 0-6 KIF, 2-6 overall.

OUTLOOK: Muramaru, the first-year coach, has been successful wherever he goes.

He was a member of the 1980 University of Hawaii baseball team that made it to the College World Series, and he helped turn around the fortunes of the Kapaa baseball team -- from perennial last-place finishers to contenders.

And Muramaru is no stranger to football. In his six years as junior varsity coach, he led the Warriors to two KIF JV titles. He has also been a varsity football assistant.

The new head coach will be the first to tell you the success of the program depends less on him and more on how hard the players work.

"The team that works hardest will win," he said. "And that's what we want to do. That's our goal, to win the KIF championship."

The Warriors went 1-1 in preseason games, losing, 20-7, to Lahainaluna and beating Honokaa, 27-7.

Among the offensive leaders are linebacker/running back Kalani Miyashiro (5-7, 165), running back Dahson Gonzales (5-9, 170), wide receiver Dustin Maglinti (5-8, 140), linemen Bryshaun Kameenui (5'10, 235), JR Davis (5-4, 170) and Bradley Wakuta (5-5, 170), receiver/fullback/cornerback Allen Iloreta (5-4, 160), quarterback Dustin Mundon (5'9, 160), and tight end Darren Lacaden (5-10, 180).

Some key defensive players are backs Tyler Wakuta (5-4, 160) and Christian Dye (5-6, 145), linemen Kalika Wong (6-0, 200), Manuel Untalon (5-7, 180), Isaiah Sarsona (5-8, 170) and Keoki Rapozo (5-10, 210), and linebacker Kaulana Poe (5-9, 180).

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