Sean Kalima, left, and his Castle team will face St. Louis, which his father Shawn Kalima, right, coaches for, on Friday.

Kalimas to clash
at state football

Father and son will be on opposite sides
of the field Friday night

By Jason Kaneshiro

Sean Kalima grew up surrounded by Crusaders.

As a child, Sean would accompany his father, Shawn, to the St. Louis School football field, strap on his toy helmet and shoulder pads and run drills with the team.

Friday night, Sean will again share the field with St. Louis players, but this time he'll be on the sideline opposite the Crusaders -- and his father.

Sean, now a junior defensive end at Castle, will take the field with the upstart Knights as they face St. Louis for the state championship at Aloha Stadium.

Meanwhile, Shawn, a St. Louis assistant for the past 17 years, will be busy helping guide the Crusaders into their fourth consecutive state title game.

State title game

Who: St. Louis vs. Castle
When: Friday, 7:35 p.m.
Where: Aloha Stadium

"I don't know how many dads get the opportunity to be on the same field with their son, whether it's on the same team or across the field," Shawn Kalima said. "It'll be a special moment, that's for sure."

In his first varsity season, Sean has been a part of Castle's remarkable postseason run as the Knights have exceeded all expectations in winning the Oahu Interscholastic Association championship and advancing to the school's first state title game.

Sean saw playing time this season as a reserve defensive end, but a broken bone in his right hand has sidelined him for the last four weeks. He played with a cast in Castle's state quarterfinal win over Hawaii Prep on Nov. 22, but sat out last week's 27-21 triple-overtime thriller against McKinley in the semifinals.

Sean hopes to get the cast off this week and to see some action against St. Louis.

Despite the injury, Sean is grateful to be a part of the excitement the Knights have sparked on campus and around Kaneohe. He said fans lined up along Likelike Highway to greet the team after the Knights defeated Kailua in the OIA championship game.

"(Castle students) congratulate us after every game," Sean said. "Even people we don't know that we see in public, you wear this (Castle football) shirt and they thank you and congratulate you."

As the Knights prepare for their shot at winning the school's first state football crown, Sean said he's not sure what emotions will be running through him as kickoff approaches on Friday.

But his father, a veteran of four state championship games and 13 Prep Bowls as St. Louis' defensive ends coach, has a pretty good idea of what Sean will be feeling when the teams run out of their tunnels.

"He's going have the butterflies, he's going to be excited," Shawn said. "The band's playing, the crowd's behind them. It's going be new for him and he's going to enjoy the whole atmosphere."

As awkward as it may be to see Sean playing for the opposing team this week, Shawn said having his son on the same squad might have posed bigger problems.

"It would be difficult and I don't think it would be fair to him, because I'd probably be more critical of him," Shawn said. "I don't know if I'd be able to be all that objective when it came to him."

Watching Castle's roll through the OIA and state playoffs from a distance, the long-time defensive coach has an appreciation for what the Knights have accomplished his season. The Castle defense has bedeviled opposing offenses with its aggressiveness and speed in leading the Knights far beyond what was expected of them this season.

"Their defense is just outstanding," Shawn said. "They come in waves and they have a lot of fire and a lot of intensity. They have sound fundamentals and they tag you, they'll come up and rock you.

"(Sean's) having fun and you can see that in all the kids at Castle. That's what you see, they have fun out there and that's a credit to Coach (Nelson) Maeda and his staff."

Both father and son said they don't talk much football around the house and vow they won't try to pry secrets out of the other this week. But Shawn said he will have a bit of advice for his son in the days leading up to the championship game:

"Like we tell all of our players, you may never get another opportunity, so make the most of it."

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