Coaching Change @ Kahuku
What is that adage? "The only constant in life is change." Kahuku football has experienced that several times in the past few years in regards to its head football coach. Actually since 2013 the Kahuku varsity football team has had 5 different head coaches. For almost any other program in the state and maybe even the nation that kind of uncertainty would definitely undermine the success of the program. @ Kahuku . . . not so much.
After losing @ home for the first time in nearly 11 years combined with consecutive regular season losses for the 1st time since 1996 - at the very least the mood of Red Raider Nation is that they're a little concerned. And yet I believe @ the end of the season our boys will be in familiar territory - competing for a state championship.
Why do I believe that? In my interactions with 1st year head coach Sterling Carvalho I have seen boldness in him to initiate change - which was perfectly demonstrated by his mid-season switch of offensive coordinators. Daring to make that kind of major change is a characteristic common to our great Red Raider coaches. And because of it they took the standards and expectations of their era and raised them to the next level. If Sterling doesn't actually win the State Championship this year it'll come real soon.
During the Clarence Lavarias era Kahuku did ok. When Lester Souza took over then we did a little better. However, in 1988 some administrator decided that a coach from outside our community should be the head coach. He was not the right person for the job and Kahuku struggled through one of its toughest seasons finishing with a 3 and 7 record.
Ironically, a mainland white boy by the name of Doug Semones would take over as coach in 1989. In his very 1st year at the helm he orchestrated Kahuku to its 1st OIA title in 17 years and its 1st appearance in the Oahu Prep Bowl - the de facto state championship at the time. OIA Championships and Prep Bowl appearances soon became the standard. However, after frustratingly close losses in several Prep Bowls coach Doug decided to pursue greener pastures in 1996.
Semones' departure opened the door for Siuaki Livai to take the helm. After an initial losing season in 1996 and being banished to the White conference the following season Coach Livai would go on to change the landscape of high school football in the 808 state. His first goal was regaining the OIA title and getting back to the Prep Bowl and he accomplished that in the 1998 season. In the 1999 season Kahuku was again OIA champs and played in the newly minted Hawaii High School Athletic Association State Championship tournament. They would reach the championship game only to lose another close one. Coach Siuaki, however, was not discouraged and achieved his next tier goal in the 2000 season when Kahuku became the only team not named St. Louis to win the final Hawaii high school football game in the last 15 years. Kahuku won again in 2001 to "Leave no doubt." Then winning State championships became the standard.
Coach Reggie Torres kept up the standard. Even one year wonder Lee Leslie got us to the HHSAA semi-final. And as we know Vavae Tata won the state title his first year and lost it the 2nd year. Makoa Freitas was also able to get Kahuku back to the title game in his one year stint.
Here and Now
Unfortunately a pattern has been set in the last few off seasons as we've become accustomed to guessing on whether or not the current coach is going to keep his job. And relatedly who is going to be the new coach. All the while our young men have been left to suffer in limbo. Or have they?
Interestingly enough in the recent merry go round of coaches the emphasis has been on the changing of coaches when the situation organically became about coaching change. Then the naturally resilient spirit of our community and the inherently strong families within it dictated to their young men - whether through conduct or inference - that you'll be fine. And they have been! So what might've looked like a train wreck of a season just a few weeks ago has turned into an opportunity for these young men to mature as a team. They no doubt have developed individual traits that endear them to each other. And through all the chaos that change can bring this team has been unphased, undaunted, undeterred . . . and yes . . . on the cusp of another state championship quest!