Q&A: Kahuku coach Makoa Freitas on Kapolei
Kahuku head coach Makoa Freitas coached up running back Enoch Nawahine during a game against Campbell. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.
Kahuku and Kapolei, now this is a pairing that rings the bell for fans of both football programs. It was just a decade ago when the Hurricanes rode into Carleton Weimer Field and shocked Big Red 14-7 in the OIA playoffs, ending the Red Raiders’ season.
The teams meet on Friday night in the OIA quarterfinals. First-year Kahuku head coach Makoa Freitas’ work never ends.
“I’m an accountant at BYU-Hawaii. I go to work, go to meetings, practice and back to work to finish up and fit in film time and whatnot,” he said.
Life is busy, but the former Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman chatted with Hawaii Prep World on Thursday afternoon.
HPW: Kahuku (almost) never loses at home. Is there a sense of added confidence because of this or do the players focus strictly on day-to-day tasks?
Freitas: I think there’s a sense of urgency knowing that if we lose this game, we’re done. Everybody’s aware that the last team (at home) we lost to was Kapolei. Playing at home, I guess it kind of gives an advantage, but we’ve still got to come out and play.
HPW: Most of your current players probably don’t remember that 2007 game.
Freitas: Our D-line coach, Paipai Falemalu, that was his senior year. We also had Coach Keala Santiago and I think David Te‘o was coaching, too.
HPW: Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez says his team needs a perfect game to keep this close. What’s your mantra this week with the team, the same as usual or different from the regular season?
Freitas: We want to keep it consistent. I think Coach Hernandez is being modest. The last two years, they moved the ball on us. The score might say one thing, but they moved the ball on us. This year, they have a really good defense. They’re a 4 seed, but they really shouldn’t be. Any team with that much talent, you’ve got to be concerned. We try to keep things the same, but up the urgency. We try to keep the same schedule. Our offensive line and running backs will have a big challenge with that front. Some of the games they lost, like that Farrington game, it was a pick-6 and special teams. Farrington’s offense only scored twice.
HPW: Is (quarterback) Sol-Jay Maiava healthy and playing this week?
Freitas: Sol-Jay is good to go.
HPW: How about running back Wes Maiava?
Freitas: We’ll play it by ear with him.
HPW: What has been the most improved aspect of your team since Day 1?
Freitas: The precision of the passing game. We have a good quarterbacks coach, good wide receiver coaches and we’re able to come together and get that going. It’s nice to see. It’s good to have balance. If they bring more guys than we can block, it’s good to keep them honest.
HPW: You spent time playing in the NFL. What’s the biggest difference between the NFL and Kahuku football?
Freitas: It’s the maturity level. High school, you have to teach. You have to mold them. The teaching aspect is big in high school. In the NFL, if the guy isn’t getting it, you fire him. Over here, you’ve got to teach them and reinforce your teachings. We’re lucky to have a lot of great kids who pick it up really fast. A lot of people point to the speed, but I think it’s about learning how to play faster. Some people say we’re not as fast as a state, but a lot of our players go to college and play as true freshmen.
HPW: What makes you happiest about being a high school coach in Hawaii?
Freitas: It’s to see the growth from the kids, not just on the football field, but in the class room, the maturity level, to see them grow.