Kailua names football

Gary Rosolowich is Kailua High's new football coach, the school's athletic director Mel Imai said yesterday.

Rosolowich, 48, played football for Boise State in college and was a defensive back and kick-return specialist for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League from 1977 to 1981.

A Hawaii resident for 17 years, including 13 in Kailua, Rosolowich's only coaching experience was from 1982 to 1984 in Canadian junior football -- a place for budding players ages 17-22 to prepare for a shot at the pros without going to college.

He's been wanting to get back into coaching for a long time.

"Opportunities to coach haven't been that plentiful in Hawaii," Rosolowich said. "Things came together for me in the last few months. It seemed like the right thing to do as far as applying for the Kailua job."

Imai didn't give an exact figure, but said "a good amount of people" applied for the job that opened up when Darren Johnson resigned April 26.

Johnson, who is still employed at the school as an educational assistant, left amid turmoil to pursue a college degree. He was accused by assistant coaches of undisclosed inappropriate behavior, but was cleared of all allegations by Imai and principal Francine Honda.

"We spent all Saturday interviewing and we think the panel did a thorough job finding somebody to help Kailua get back into the right light," Imai said. "I'm sure some people out there aren't going to be too happy with our choice, because certain people have their certain favorites on who they think should be the coach. But we think we have the right guy to get us back to where we need to be within the community."

Rosolowich is self-employed, working for MicroSoft on an independent basis as an implementation project manager.

"Besides his experience playing football on the pro level, we were impressed with the manner in which he goes about things, his organizational and his managerial skills," Imai said.

One of Rosolowich's first duties is to pick a staff. Imai said it's possible some former assistants would be hired back to maintain continuity for the players' sake.

Rosolowich looks forward to the challenge of coaching one of the most successful football programs in the state. Johnson took the Surfriders to the state tournament in four of the last five years.

"I want to try to build on the success that they already have here," said Rosolowich, who has occasionally watched Kailua and Kalaheo games over the years. "There's always new levels to go to. There'll be a transition period and transitions aren't always easy. New changes will be introduced and I'm confident the changes will be positive."

Rosolowich isn't committing to offensive or defensive systems yet, but it's doubtful he'll stray far from the powerful running game Johnson developed.

"I'm a big believer in utilizing and maximizing the talent you have when deciding what types of offense and defense you run," he said. "We're not going to throw the ball 100 times if we have a running back who can run the ball."

Defensively, he leans toward an "aggressive, make-it-happen" style.

Rosolowich's debut is more than three months away, Aug. 28, when the Surfriders open the season against Kamehameha at Aloha Stadium. The game is part of a doubleheader that also includes Saint Louis vs. Kahuku, a rematch of last year's Division I title game.

Kailua lost to Baldwin in the first round of the state tournament last year and finished 8-3-1.


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