What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

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What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

Post by ChadFukuoka »

I’ve been wondering this. It can’t purely be location/geography/size because smaller and more rural towns have had success over the long term. Waianae and Kahuku have historically done very well, despite being located in relatively isolated areas. It’s far from the North Shore or Waianae coast to other parts of the island, yet there is still a ton of community pride and local sports pride in both places.

Leilehua has also historically done well. Although Wahaiwa is a small town itself, and with a lot of military kids coming and going, you’d think stability would be a problem in building a successful roster, and program, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Waipahu had some nice runs in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, etc, when that part of the island was mostly cane fields, and less developed than it is now.

Is it just a matter of good coaching? Building a strong youth/developmental program? What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Good coaching or having natural talent in the area?

In recent years, some teams like Mililani have risen to the top with bringing in talented transfers, so that could also be a reason, although this would probably apply to more recent programs.

I’m not familiar with neighbor island teams on Kauai, Maui, or the Big Island, so maybe things are different there.

I ask because it seems like location/geography/economics/population are not natural barriers to a winning football program. But some parts of Oahu, like the Windward side with Castle/Kailua/Kalaheo have never really experienced sustained football success, despite being in a relatively wealthy area and being in a decent place to live (nice beaches, fairly upscale demographics)

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Re: What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

Post by poidog »

some random thoughts related to your question:

-population changes have a big impact on things. Campbell is a very good team now, but 25 years ago they were not. the population there has grown significantly and with such a large enrollment they have a good pool of talent to draw from. it is important to have a big enough talent pool that you can survive your best athletes being poached by other schools and to have enough community pride so that kids want to play for the home team. The ewa plain now has enough talent to field two good teams in Campbell and Kapolei. There's also a wide range of family types and income levels to where there's a good balance of backgrounds - too rich and maybe you lack some toughness (a lame generalization, but has some truth to it) and if too poor you might not have as many kids who played organized ball or received quality coaching at clinics, etc at early ages. This goes beyond football as their basketball team has had success lately as well. Waipahu is a big place, but they don't seem to have quite the same kind of range of backgrounds and types of athletes as their neighbor, which makes them a solid D2 team but not strong enough to be a D1 contender on a regular basis.

-Coach name and clout. Mililani has a lot of the same population advantages that Campbell has, and has had them for longer. Yet in the 90's they were not that great (My Kalani Falcons beat them at their own Homecoming in 1995!). the thing that changed between then and when the current string of success started was the coaching situation. Coaching changes at public schools can swing a team's win/loss record in crazy ways. Some of it is just the result of better coaching (fundamentals, strategy) but a lot is due to the ability to attract transfers/keep players from transferring. Kalani had a nice run in the OIA White while the Lee brothers were just assistant coaches, but as soon as they left so did a bunch of their better players (some transferred to Radford). Kaiser was making some noise under Rich Miano, but everything ended in an instant when he left as well. Kailua had success under Darren Johnson. Kahuku has had some fluctuations in their success as their coaching situation has changed over the years. Coaching public high school football is truly a labor of love, and there just isn't a great system for grooming great new coaches so the disparity between teams with good coaches and teams with volunteers who care a lot but aren't especially great at coaching football is huge.

-talent gaps are bad for everyone involved. one a school falls on hard times on the field, it's hard to turn things around. Oahu needs three real classifications so that less successful schools have motivation to continue to participate in football and to give their athletes less reason to transfer. the OIA and ILH really need to merge at some point. A Waialua doesn't get any better playing against someone like Kapolei, but having Damien on the schedule in a meaningful game every season gives them a reason to train a little harder in the spring and to show up for fall camp. not every transfer transfers just to be on a winning team - some just want to be playing meaningful football in a situation where they won't put themselves at extra risk because of low turnout or other things. D3 champions are still D3 champions.

-football has evolved. When I was young, we looked up to Kahuku, Waianae, and Farrington. They were known to be tough, athletic, and really good at football. I think that has mostly stayed true, but teams like Mililani and Campbell have caught up because they are good at playing a more modern style of football that isn't solely dependent on having all the biggest linemen. Sure, we see more passing from everyone these days, including the three i mentioned, but the playing field has leveled a bit in this regard.

I don't even watch high school football that much these days, so I might be way off...

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Re: What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

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ChadFukuoka wrote: Fri Sep 10, 2021 12:18 pm I’ve been wondering this. It can’t purely be location/geography/size because smaller and more rural towns have had success over the long term. Waianae and Kahuku have historically done very well, despite being located in relatively isolated areas. It’s far from the North Shore or Waianae coast to other parts of the island, yet there is still a ton of community pride and local sports pride in both places.

Leilehua has also historically done well. Although Wahaiwa is a small town itself, and with a lot of military kids coming and going, you’d think stability would be a problem in building a successful roster, and program, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Waipahu had some nice runs in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, etc, when that part of the island was mostly cane fields, and less developed than it is now.

Is it just a matter of good coaching? Building a strong youth/developmental program? What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Good coaching or having natural talent in the area?

In recent years, some teams like Mililani have risen to the top with bringing in talented transfers, so that could also be a reason, although this would probably apply to more recent programs.

I’m not familiar with neighbor island teams on Kauai, Maui, or the Big Island, so maybe things are different there.

I ask because it seems like location/geography/economics/population are not natural barriers to a winning football program. But some parts of Oahu, like the Windward side with Castle/Kailua/Kalaheo have never really experienced sustained football success, despite being in a relatively wealthy area and being in a decent place to live (nice beaches, fairly upscale demographics)
@ChadFukuoka:
I think any area that has lots of Polys will usually produce good football teams. Why? Polys tend to be bigger and more physical. Notice that both Waianae High and Kahuku High are located in geographic areas that have lots of Polys. I don't think it matters that those areas are "isolated."

Regarding Leilehua High: First of all, Wahiawa actually isn't that small a town; also, if I'm not mistaken, Leilehua High also serves kids from Whitmore Village. Yes, Leilehua High also serves Army kids from Schofield Barracks. And indeed, many of those kids come and go, because the parent(s) ship-out to wherever the Army assigns them. So yes, Leilehua High has lots of turnover, but football is a national sport, and the rules of the game are pretty much the same in every state. If there's an Army kid who's a good player, he can pretty much just plug-into Leilehua High's team.

Waipahu High is something of an enigma. First of all, it has a large student body. If I'm not mistaken, it's the second- or third-largest high school on the island, by enrollment. Also, almost every year, they have lots of Polys on the football team. Yet, they haven't made as big a splash as you would think. I mean, they don't suck, but they're not as good as you'd think they'd be, given their large student body and the large number of Polys on the team. Not only that; they usually have good size physically. Yet, look: They're not even in Open. That's why I said that that school is something of an enigma. I guess it might have something to with coaching, but I don't think their coaching actually sucks.

As for your "chicken v egg" question, I'd say that a school really has to have football talent if it's going to get very far. Even the best coaches aren't magicians; they can do only so much with whatever kinds of players they have.

Regarding Mililani High, I think they've reached prominence because of recruiting. I think many of the Polys who have been on their team the past several years, were recruits. Not all, of course, but I would say many, if not most.

As for the outer islands, I've never paid much attention to them, so I can't contribute much about them. I'm basically "Oahu-centric."

In your last paragraph, you seem to suggest that schools serving wealthy areas should have an advantage. To that I'd say: Not in football. If you look at the Oahu high schools that have had strong football teams for several decades, almost none of them serve wealthy areas. Consider the wealthiest areas on Oahu: Diamond Head, Portlock, Waialae-Iki. Diamond Head has been served by Kaimuki High and Kalani High; I mention both schools because the geographic boundaries of those schools have shifted several times over the last 40 years. Waialae-Iki is served by Kalani High, and Portlock is served by Kaiser High. Of those three schools, only Kaiser High had really good football teams (back in the late-'70s to early-'80s). But, very few of their football players came from Portlock. I think that back in the late-'70s to early-'80s, most of Kaiser High's best players came from Waimanalo. Waimanalo kids usually go to Kailua High, but I think Kaiser High siphoned-off most of Waimanalo's good players because of the success of their football team. After all, Waimanalo isn't really that far from Kaiser High; Kaiser High is the "adjacent" high school (after Kailua High). Of course, some good football players did come from Hawaii Kai, but I suspect more of them came from Waimanalo.
Last edited by HS Football Fanatic on Fri Sep 10, 2021 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

Post by ChadFukuoka »

HS Football Fanatic wrote: Fri Sep 10, 2021 5:55 pm
ChadFukuoka wrote: Fri Sep 10, 2021 12:18 pm I’ve been wondering this. It can’t purely be location/geography/size because smaller and more rural towns have had success over the long term. Waianae and Kahuku have historically done very well, despite being located in relatively isolated areas. It’s far from the North Shore or Waianae coast to other parts of the island, yet there is still a ton of community pride and local sports pride in both places.

Leilehua has also historically done well. Although Wahaiwa is a small town itself, and with a lot of military kids coming and going, you’d think stability would be a problem in building a successful roster, and program, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Waipahu had some nice runs in the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, etc, when that part of the island was mostly cane fields, and less developed than it is now.

Is it just a matter of good coaching? Building a strong youth/developmental program? What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Good coaching or having natural talent in the area?

In recent years, some teams like Mililani have risen to the top with bringing in talented transfers, so that could also be a reason, although this would probably apply to more recent programs.

I’m not familiar with neighbor island teams on Kauai, Maui, or the Big Island, so maybe things are different there.

I ask because it seems like location/geography/economics/population are not natural barriers to a winning football program. But some parts of Oahu, like the Windward side with Castle/Kailua/Kalaheo have never really experienced sustained football success, despite being in a relatively wealthy area and being in a decent place to live (nice beaches, fairly upscale demographics)
@ChadFukuoka:
I think any area that has lots of Polys will usually produce good football teams? Why? Polys tend to be bigger and more physical. Notice that both Waianae High and Kahuku High are located in geographic areas that have lots of Polys. I don't think it matters that those areas are "isolated."

Regarding Leilehua High: First of all, Wahiawa actually isn't that small a town; also, if I'm not mistaken, Leilehua High also serves kids from Whitmore Village. Yes, Leilehua High also serves Army kids from Schofield Barracks. And indeed, many of those kids come and go, because the parent(s) ship-out to wherever the Army assigns them. So yes, Leilehua High has lots of turnover, but football is a national sport, and the rules of the game are pretty much the same in every state. If there's an Army kid who's a good player, he can pretty much just plug-into Leilehua High's team.

Waipahu High is something of an enigma. First of all, it has a large student body. If I'm not mistaken, it's the second- or third-largest high school on the island, by enrollment. Also, almost every year, they have lots of Polys on the football team. Yet, they haven't made as big a splash as you would think. I mean, they don't suck, but they're not as good as you'd think they'd be, given their large student body and the large number of Polys on the team. Not only that; they usually have good size physically. Yet, look: They're not even in Open. That's why I said that that school is something of an enigma. I guess it might have something to with coaching, but I don't think their coaching actually sucks.

As for your "chicken v egg" question, I'd say that a school really has to have football talent if it's going to get very far. Even the best coaches aren't magicians.

Regarding Mililani High, I think they've reached prominence because of recruiting. I think many of the Polys who have been on their team the past several years, were recruits. Not all, of course, but I would say many, if not most.

As for the outer islands, I've never paid much attention to them, so I can't contribute much about them. I'm basically "Oahu-centric."

In your last paragraph, you seem to suggest that schools serving wealthy areas should have an advantage. To that I'd say: Not in football. If you look at the Oahu high schools that have had strong football teams for several decades, almost none of them serve wealthy areas. Consider the wealthiest areas on Oahu: Diamond Head, Portlock, Waialae-Iki. Diamond Head has been served by Kaimuki High and Kalani High; I mention both schools because the geographic boundaries of those schools have shifted several times over the last 40 years. Waialae-Iki is served by Kalani High, and Portlock is served by Kaiser High. Of those three schools, only Kaiser High had really good football teams (back in the late-'70s to early-'80s). But, very few of their football players came from Portlock. I think that back in the late-'70s to early-'80s, most of Kaiser High's best players came from Waimanalo. Waimanalo kids usually go to Kailua High, but I think Kaiser High siphoned-off most of Waimanalo's good players because of the success of their football teams. After all, Waimanalo isn't really that far from Kaiser High; Kaiser High is the "adjacent" high school (after Kailua High). Of course, some good football players did come from Hawaii Kai, but I suspect more of them came from Waimanalo.
Would you say it’s primarily a ethnic demographic/cultural thing? In the sense that certain areas have ethnicities such as Polynesians who are generally big in size, and that translates well into football?

Looking at other sports, when I grew up and attended Aiea, both Aiea and Pearl City were good at baseball, and demographically, both schools had a lot of good Asian players. So maybe baseball is a sport where pure size doesn’t matter as much. The whole Aiea/Pearl City/Moanalua/Radford area is another part of Oahu, that outside of Radford’s OIA championships in the 60’s and I think a couple more in the 70’s, haven’t really experienced a lot of football success at the top level either.

As for my last paragraph, I didn’t mean that being wealthy makes someone better at football. I’d assume wealthier areas would be more stable in terms of people not constantly leaving the community, and I’d think a stable community would lead to decent schools, and community investment in school programs or sports. But maybe the demographics of those areas just don’t produce football talent?

But then again, a school like Mililani was relatively bad in football from their foundation in the early 70’s, up until the 2000’s. Now they are good. They have a ton of transfers to make up for a possible lack of homegrown talent. So why can’t teams like Kaiser/Kalani, Castle/Kailua/Kalaheo, Aiea/Pearl City/Radford/, in those parts of the island, without a lot of natural football talent (if that’s the problem), build up their programs like Mililani, or even Campbell/Kapolei has done?

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Re: What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

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@ChadFukuoka:
Yes, I would say it's a demographic/cultural thing. As I had mentioned, Polys are generally bigger, and tougher. Of course, those are important characteristics for a very physical contact-sport like football.

For decades, Japanese kids have excelled in baseball; it's become something of a stereotype. And, Aiea High and Pearl City High have lots of Japanese kids, especially Pearl City High. That's why those two schools usually have good baseball teams.

As for wealth and "stability," I'd say neither is of extreme importance when it comes to football. It may be politically incorrect to say, but, look at the schools that have had the best football teams for the past 40 years; almost none of them serve "wealthy, stable" areas. Stability might be important in the sense that you can't have good players constantly leaving a school's geographic area. But, you can have wealthy, stable areas, and you can have non-wealthy, stable areas. Take Waianae High, for example. The geographic area Waianae High serves is not wealthy, but it's still quite stable in the sense that you don't really have tons of people constantly leaving the area. I think there's a sense of, "Well, Waianae isn't a wealthy area, but it's my home town, I grew-up here, and I'm confortable here."

I'd say the eight schools you mentioned in your last paragraph are victims of a catch-22. Look at all of them: Kaiser High, Kalani High, Castle High, Kailua High, Kalaheo High, Aiea High, Pearl City High, Radford High. At the moment, none of those schools has a kick-butt football team. So, how can the HCs at those schools recruit? They have no "carrot" to draw kids over. Yet, without good players, how can you have a kick-butt team? That's a classic catch-22.

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Re: What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

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HS Football Fanatic wrote: Fri Sep 10, 2021 6:28 pm @ChadFukuoka:
Yes, I would say it's a demographic/cultural thing. As I had mentioned, Polys are generally bigger, and tougher. Of course, those are important characteristics for a very physical contact-sport like football.

For decades, Japanese kids have excelled in baseball; it's become something of a stereotype. And, Aiea High and Pearl City High have lots of Japanese kids, especially Pearl City High. That's why those two schools usually have good baseball teams.

As for wealth and "stability," I'd say neither is of extreme importance when it comes to football. It may be politically incorrect to say, but, look at the schools that have had the best football teams for the past 40 years; almost none of them serve "wealthy, stable" areas. Stability might be important in the sense that you can't have good players constantly leaving a school's geographic area. But, you can have wealthy, stable areas, and you can have non-wealthy, stable areas. Take Waianae High, for example. The geographic area Waianae High serves is not wealthy, but it's still quite stable in the sense that you don't really have tons of people constantly leaving the area. I think there's a sense of, "Well, Waianae isn't a wealthy area, but it's my home town, I grew-up here, and I'm confortable here."

I'd say the eight schools you mentioned in your last paragraph are victims of a catch-22. Look at all of them: Kaiser High, Kalani High, Castle High, Kailua High, Kalaheo High, Aiea High, Pearl City High, Radford High. At the moment, none of those schools has a kick-butt football team. So, how can the HCs at those schools recruit? They have no "carrot" to draw kids over. Yet, without good players, how can you have a kick-butt team? That's a classic catch-22.
But there’s also been cases of a football team becoming good after previously being bad. Mililani for example, was bad up until their recent success they are now experiencing. Kaiser was relatively bad before Ron Lee took over. So it’s theoretically possible to build up a program from scratch. Or from the bottom.

Do you think it’s just those schools’ athletic departments not focusing on football? That they are good at other sports, like what I mentioned with baseball, or less mainstream sports like swimming/water polo/paddling, and football isn’t worth the investment it would take to become good?

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Re: What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

Post by ChadFukuoka »

poidog wrote: Fri Sep 10, 2021 4:23 pm some random thoughts related to your question:

-population changes have a big impact on things. Campbell is a very good team now, but 25 years ago they were not. the population there has grown significantly and with such a large enrollment they have a good pool of talent to draw from. it is important to have a big enough talent pool that you can survive your best athletes being poached by other schools and to have enough community pride so that kids want to play for the home team. The ewa plain now has enough talent to field two good teams in Campbell and Kapolei. There's also a wide range of family types and income levels to where there's a good balance of backgrounds - too rich and maybe you lack some toughness (a lame generalization, but has some truth to it) and if too poor you might not have as many kids who played organized ball or received quality coaching at clinics, etc at early ages. This goes beyond football as their basketball team has had success lately as well. Waipahu is a big place, but they don't seem to have quite the same kind of range of backgrounds and types of athletes as their neighbor, which makes them a solid D2 team but not strong enough to be a D1 contender on a regular basis.

-Coach name and clout. Mililani has a lot of the same population advantages that Campbell has, and has had them for longer. Yet in the 90's they were not that great (My Kalani Falcons beat them at their own Homecoming in 1995!). the thing that changed between then and when the current string of success started was the coaching situation. Coaching changes at public schools can swing a team's win/loss record in crazy ways. Some of it is just the result of better coaching (fundamentals, strategy) but a lot is due to the ability to attract transfers/keep players from transferring. Kalani had a nice run in the OIA White while the Lee brothers were just assistant coaches, but as soon as they left so did a bunch of their better players (some transferred to Radford). Kaiser was making some noise under Rich Miano, but everything ended in an instant when he left as well. Kailua had success under Darren Johnson. Kahuku has had some fluctuations in their success as their coaching situation has changed over the years. Coaching public high school football is truly a labor of love, and there just isn't a great system for grooming great new coaches so the disparity between teams with good coaches and teams with volunteers who care a lot but aren't especially great at coaching football is huge.

-talent gaps are bad for everyone involved. one a school falls on hard times on the field, it's hard to turn things around. Oahu needs three real classifications so that less successful schools have motivation to continue to participate in football and to give their athletes less reason to transfer. the OIA and ILH really need to merge at some point. A Waialua doesn't get any better playing against someone like Kapolei, but having Damien on the schedule in a meaningful game every season gives them a reason to train a little harder in the spring and to show up for fall camp. not every transfer transfers just to be on a winning team - some just want to be playing meaningful football in a situation where they won't put themselves at extra risk because of low turnout or other things. D3 champions are still D3 champions.

-football has evolved. When I was young, we looked up to Kahuku, Waianae, and Farrington. They were known to be tough, athletic, and really good at football. I think that has mostly stayed true, but teams like Mililani and Campbell have caught up because they are good at playing a more modern style of football that isn't solely dependent on having all the biggest linemen. Sure, we see more passing from everyone these days, including the three i mentioned, but the playing field has leveled a bit in this regard.

I don't even watch high school football that much these days, so I might be way off...
The coaching thing makes sense. But it also seems coaches are willing to coach at public schools that aren’t their alma mater. So maybe it’s just a matter of successful programs and athletic departments being able to find the right personnel to build their team? Or being able to build off their success once they do find a good coach, and he eventually leaves, they are able to find another one just as good.

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Re: What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

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@ChadFukuoka:
Even though your most recent post wasn't addressed to me, if I could chime-in: I've long been intrigued about the matter of coaching one's alma mater. Speaking just for myself, I get a nice, warm feeling when a coach is coaching his alma mater. It reminds of that old comedy sitcom from the late-'70s, "Welcome Back, Kotter", which is about a guy (Kotter) who returns to his alma mater to teach.

But of course, not every high school can find a coach who is an alumnus of the school. But then again, there's no requirement that the coach be an alumnus. I'm not saying that the a coach has to be an alumnus; of course, he doesn't have to be. I'm saying only that, to me, there's something really nice if he is. There's a sense of connection. There's a sense of, "I'm one of you; we're all students or alumni of this school".

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Re: What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

Post by ChadFukuoka »

HS Football Fanatic wrote: Fri Sep 10, 2021 7:15 pm @ChadFukuoka:
Even though your most recent post wasn't addressed to me, if I could chime-in: I've long been intrigued about the matter of coaching one's alma mater. Speaking just for myself, I get a nice, warm feeling when a coach is coaching his alma mater. It reminds of that old comedy sitcom from the late-'70s, "Welcome Back, Kotter", which is about a guy (Kotter) who returns to his alma mater to teach.

But of course, not every high school can find a coach who is an alumnus of the school. But then again, there's no requirement that the coach be an alumnus. I'm not saying that the a coach has to be an alumnus; of course, he doesn't have to be. I'm saying only that, to me, there's something really nice if he is. There's a sense of connection. There's a sense of, "I'm one of you; we're all part of the same school family".
There might be a sense of connection if a coach is at his alma mater.

But less successful programs would almost have to go outside their alumni network to get better. If a school has a losing football program over the years, they likely have had less good players who played for them. And coaches in the past who probably weren’t as good as those at other schools.

So to change the losing culture, a school would have to be able to find a coach that’s great at rebuilding, or recruiting players, to be able to turn things around. A traditionally unsuccessful program would need to think outside the box with both hiring and possibly their on the field schemes, to reverse the trend.

So being selective with finding alumni to coach a team would probably work better at a successful program, that has had great players in the past, who can be turned into or are already good coaches.

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Re: What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

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@ChadFukuoka: Well, now you're talking about a conundrum. Obviously, alumni want their alma mater to have a good football team. Question is: How far should the school go to get one? Should the school hire the best coach it can find, or only the best coach who's an alumnus? I suspect most schools would hire the best coach it can find, whether he's an alumnus or not. But, that can create awkward situations. For example, Kahuku High hired Vavae Tata as HC in '15, I think. Not only is Tata not a Kahuku alumnus; he's a St Louis alumnus. Of course, St Louis School is one of Kahuku High's rivals. Not only that; one year Tata coached Kahuku against St Louis for the state D1 title, and won. But, don't you think that was kind of awkward? I would think it was at least a little awkward for Tata to coach against his alma mater. And, wasn't it a bit awkward for Kahuku alumni? I mean, Kahuku alumni were rooting against St Louis, yet the Kahuku HC was himself a St Louis alumnus.

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Re: What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

Post by ChadFukuoka »

HS Football Fanatic wrote: Fri Sep 10, 2021 8:27 pm @ChadFukuoka: Well, now you're talking about a conundrum. Obviously, alumni want their alma mater to have a good football team. Question is: How far should the school go to get one? Should the school hire the best coach it can find, or only the best coach who's an alumnus? I suspect most schools would hire the best coach it can find, whether he's an alumnus or not. But, that can create awkward situations. For example, Kahuku High hired Vavae Tata as HC in '15, I think. Not only is Tata not a Kahuku alumnus; he's a St Louis alumnus. Of course, St Louis School is one of Kahuku High's rivals. Not only that; one year Tata coached Kahuku against St Louis for the state D1 title, and won. But, don't you think that was kind of awkward? I would think it was at least a little awkward for Tata to coach against his alma mater. And, wasn't it a bit awkward for Kahuku alumni? I mean, Kahuku alumni were rooting against St Louis, yet the Kahuku HC was himself a St Louis alumnus.
I don’t necessarily think so. If you’re a fan of a particular team, you want them to perform their best and hopefully win as much as possible. You’re cheering for your team, and the players, coaches, and staff associated with them.

Once Vavae Tata became the Kahuku head coach, he committed to making the Kahuku football team the best they could be. Obviously, winning a state title proved that. His allegiance was purely for Kahuku, and I’d assume the Red Raider fans supported him, regardless of his alma mater.

I think once coaches decide to coach at a particular school, their commitment is fully focused there. They’re not going to not give their best, or do anything to sabotage their team, just because they went to school somewhere else.

I’d assume principals, athletic directors, and administrative staff just want to find the best candidate for the job.

There’s more of a loyalty to your alma mater, and it’s sports teams, than someone with a regular, non-coaching job, might have to their prior employers or places they worked at. But I’m not so sure that for a coach, it matters that much if you didn’t go to that school.

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Re: What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

Post by HS Football Fanatic »

ChadFukuoka wrote: Fri Sep 10, 2021 7:00 pm
HS Football Fanatic wrote: Fri Sep 10, 2021 6:28 pm @ChadFukuoka:
Yes, I would say it's a demographic/cultural thing. As I had mentioned, Polys are generally bigger, and tougher. Of course, those are important characteristics for a very physical contact-sport like football.

For decades, Japanese kids have excelled in baseball; it's become something of a stereotype. And, Aiea High and Pearl City High have lots of Japanese kids, especially Pearl City High. That's why those two schools usually have good baseball teams.

As for wealth and "stability," I'd say neither is of extreme importance when it comes to football. It may be politically incorrect to say, but, look at the schools that have had the best football teams for the past 40 years; almost none of them serve "wealthy, stable" areas. Stability might be important in the sense that you can't have good players constantly leaving a school's geographic area. But, you can have wealthy, stable areas, and you can have non-wealthy, stable areas. Take Waianae High, for example. The geographic area Waianae High serves is not wealthy, but it's still quite stable in the sense that you don't really have tons of people constantly leaving the area. I think there's a sense of, "Well, Waianae isn't a wealthy area, but it's my home town, I grew-up here, and I'm confortable here."

I'd say the eight schools you mentioned in your last paragraph are victims of a catch-22. Look at all of them: Kaiser High, Kalani High, Castle High, Kailua High, Kalaheo High, Aiea High, Pearl City High, Radford High. At the moment, none of those schools has a kick-butt football team. So, how can the HCs at those schools recruit? They have no "carrot" to draw kids over. Yet, without good players, how can you have a kick-butt team? That's a classic catch-22.
But there’s also been cases of a football team becoming good after previously being bad. Mililani for example, was bad up until their recent success they are now experiencing. Kaiser was relatively bad before Ron Lee took over. So it’s theoretically possible to build up a program from scratch. Or from the bottom.

Do you think it’s just those schools’ athletic departments not focusing on football? That they are good at other sports, like what I mentioned with baseball, or less mainstream sports like swimming/water polo/paddling, and football isn’t worth the investment it would take to become good?
@ChadFukuoka:

Well, first off, certainly different schools may excel in different sports. But I would assume that all schools want to excel in football, as that's (literally) the biggest game in town. I mean, football provides the maximum publicity and revenue. Mililani High has always had a pretty large enrollment, so I don't think numbers would have ever been a problem for them. I don't know about physical size, though. I think York is a decent coach, and he may have come along just as Mililani High's enrollment was peaking, I don't know. But, I suspect he's been recruiting, especially over the last few years. Kaiser High had a problem with physical size--or lack thereof--in the mid-'70s. Ron Lee made the smart coaching move of installing the run-and-shoot, a pass O that helps compensate for lack of physical size. I guess in some sense, we can say that Ron Lee built Kaiser High football from scratch, but I don't think we can say the same for York at Mililani High. Mililani High had two HCs before York: John Kauinana and James Millwood. However, I think we can give York credit for making Mililani High a football powerhouse. Under him, the school has earned a state D1 title and a spot in Open.

Again, I think any and every school focuses on football as much as it can; that's where you get the most publicity and revenue. But, all any school has is its players. I think the best thing a school can do is hire a marquee coach, if it can. If a school were lucky enough to be able to hire a pro football coach who had just retired, imagine what a draw that would be. I think outstanding players would beat a path to that school. Imagine this scenario: A pro football coach has just retired, and has decided to move to Oahu. Football still runs through his veins, but he doesn't want the pressure of coaching a D1 college team like UH. After all, he's just retired. However, he's decided that coaching high school would be just right for him; high school coaching is much more mellow than coaching a D1 college team like UH. He's got lots of money, so money isn't an issue. He's decided to stay at a cheap motel, and has made-up his mind to accept the first coaching offer that any high school offers, and then he'll buy a house or condo that's not too far from that school, just so he doesn't have to travel all the way across the island to get to the school, or spend hours stuck in traffic. He doesn't care how much or how little that school pays him; as we mentioned, money isn't an issue at all. He loves coaching, but just doesn't want the hassle of a D1 college team like UH. Even if he gets hired by a D2 school, I bet lots of players will gravitate to that school, just to get to play for a former pro coach, especially if he's a legend. I think he'd be a draw for any school, doesn't matter if it's in D2, D1, or Open.

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Re: What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

Post by HS Football Fanatic »

ChadFukuoka wrote: Fri Sep 10, 2021 9:00 pm
HS Football Fanatic wrote: Fri Sep 10, 2021 8:27 pm @ChadFukuoka: Well, now you're talking about a conundrum. Obviously, alumni want their alma mater to have a good football team. Question is: How far should the school go to get one? Should the school hire the best coach it can find, or only the best coach who's an alumnus? I suspect most schools would hire the best coach it can find, whether he's an alumnus or not. But, that can create awkward situations. For example, Kahuku High hired Vavae Tata as HC in '15, I think. Not only is Tata not a Kahuku alumnus; he's a St Louis alumnus. Of course, St Louis School is one of Kahuku High's rivals. Not only that; one year Tata coached Kahuku against St Louis for the state D1 title, and won. But, don't you think that was kind of awkward? I would think it was at least a little awkward for Tata to coach against his alma mater. And, wasn't it a bit awkward for Kahuku alumni? I mean, Kahuku alumni were rooting against St Louis, yet the Kahuku HC was himself a St Louis alumnus.
I don’t necessarily think so. If you’re a fan of a particular team, you want them to perform their best and hopefully win as much as possible. You’re cheering for your team, and the players, coaches, and staff associated with them.

Once Vavae Tata became the Kahuku head coach, he committed to making the Kahuku football team the best they could be. Obviously, winning a state title proved that. His allegiance was purely for Kahuku, and I’d assume the Red Raider fans supported him, regardless of his alma mater.

I think once coaches decide to coach at a particular school, their commitment is fully focused there. They’re not going to not give their best, or do anything to sabotage their team, just because they went to school somewhere else.

I’d assume principals, athletic directors, and administrative staff just want to find the best candidate for the job.

There’s more of a loyalty to your alma mater, and it’s sports teams, than someone with a regular, non-coaching job, might have to their prior employers or places they worked at. But I’m not so sure that for a coach, it matters that much if you didn’t go to that school.
#ChadFukuoka:

I don't know; I'd beg to differ. If you're an alumnus, you can't just forget which school your alma mater's HC graduated from. I'm not saying that Kahuku alumni weren't cheering for Tata; of course they were. But only because he was coaching Kahuku, I'm sure. I suspect the irony of him being a St Louis alumnus wasn't lost on them.

And, I'm sure Tata was willing to go all-in for Kahuku High once he was hired by them. I mean, certainly Tata wasn't going to "sabotage" the team just because he's a St Louis grad. But, again, there's no way Tata forgot that he's a St Louis alumnus; you can't push something like that out of your mind completely.

There are quite a few examples of HCs coaching schools that aren't their alma mater. But, if their alma mater is a rival, that must create some level of awkwardness. Another example would be Leonard Lau; isn't he Punahou HC? Lau, like Tata, is a St Louis alumnus. And, St Louis School is a rival of Punahou School.

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Re: What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

Post by ChadFukuoka »

HS Football Fanatic wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 5:37 pm
ChadFukuoka wrote: Fri Sep 10, 2021 7:00 pm
HS Football Fanatic wrote: Fri Sep 10, 2021 6:28 pm @ChadFukuoka:
Yes, I would say it's a demographic/cultural thing. As I had mentioned, Polys are generally bigger, and tougher. Of course, those are important characteristics for a very physical contact-sport like football.

For decades, Japanese kids have excelled in baseball; it's become something of a stereotype. And, Aiea High and Pearl City High have lots of Japanese kids, especially Pearl City High. That's why those two schools usually have good baseball teams.

As for wealth and "stability," I'd say neither is of extreme importance when it comes to football. It may be politically incorrect to say, but, look at the schools that have had the best football teams for the past 40 years; almost none of them serve "wealthy, stable" areas. Stability might be important in the sense that you can't have good players constantly leaving a school's geographic area. But, you can have wealthy, stable areas, and you can have non-wealthy, stable areas. Take Waianae High, for example. The geographic area Waianae High serves is not wealthy, but it's still quite stable in the sense that you don't really have tons of people constantly leaving the area. I think there's a sense of, "Well, Waianae isn't a wealthy area, but it's my home town, I grew-up here, and I'm confortable here."

I'd say the eight schools you mentioned in your last paragraph are victims of a catch-22. Look at all of them: Kaiser High, Kalani High, Castle High, Kailua High, Kalaheo High, Aiea High, Pearl City High, Radford High. At the moment, none of those schools has a kick-butt football team. So, how can the HCs at those schools recruit? They have no "carrot" to draw kids over. Yet, without good players, how can you have a kick-butt team? That's a classic catch-22.
But there’s also been cases of a football team becoming good after previously being bad. Mililani for example, was bad up until their recent success they are now experiencing. Kaiser was relatively bad before Ron Lee took over. So it’s theoretically possible to build up a program from scratch. Or from the bottom.

Do you think it’s just those schools’ athletic departments not focusing on football? That they are good at other sports, like what I mentioned with baseball, or less mainstream sports like swimming/water polo/paddling, and football isn’t worth the investment it would take to become good?
@ChadFukuoka:

Well, first off, certainly different schools may excel in different sports. But I would assume that all schools want to excel in football, as that's (literally) the biggest game in town. I mean, football provides the maximum publicity and revenue. Mililani High has always had a pretty large enrollment, so I don't think numbers would have ever been a problem for them. I don't know about physical size, though. I think York is a decent coach, and he may have come along just as Mililani High's enrollment was peaking, I don't know. But, I suspect he's been recruiting, especially over the last few years. Kaiser High had a problem with physical size--or lack thereof--in the mid-'70s. Ron Lee made the smart coaching move of installing the run-and-shoot, a pass O that helps compensate for lack of physical size. I guess in some sense, we can say that Ron Lee built Kaiser High football from scratch, but I don't think we can say the same for York at Mililani High. Mililani High had two HCs before York: John Kauinana and James Millwood. However, I think we can give York credit for making Mililani High a football powerhouse. Under him, the school has earned a state D1 title and a spot in Open.

Again, I think any and every school focuses on football as much as it can; that's where you get the most publicity and revenue. But, all any school has is its players. I think the best thing a school can do is hire a marquee coach, if it can. If a school were lucky enough to be able to hire a pro football coach who had just retired, imagine what a draw that would be. I think outstanding players would beat a path to that school. Imagine this scenario: A pro football coach has just retired, and has decided to move to Oahu. Football still runs through his veins, but he doesn't want the pressure of coaching a D1 college team like UH. After all, he's just retired. However, he's decided that coaching high school would be just right for him; high school coaching is much more mellow than coaching a D1 college team like UH. He's got lots of money, so money isn't an issue. He's decided to stay at a cheap motel, and has made-up his mind to accept the first coaching offer that any high school offers, and then he'll buy a house or condo that's not too far from that school, just so he doesn't have to travel all the way across the island to get to the school, or spend hours stuck in traffic. He doesn't care how much or how little that school pays him; as we mentioned, money isn't an issue at all. He loves coaching, but just doesn't want the hassle of a D1 college team like UH. Even if he gets hired by a D2 school, I bet lots of players will gravitate to that school, just to get to play for a former pro coach, especially if he's a legend. I think he'd be a draw for any school, doesn't matter if it's in D2, D1, or Open.
In that situation, a program would be successful by being able to recruit transfers. What Rich Miano and Chad Ikei did at Kaiser is similar to what you’re describing. Although they might have done it by bending the rules.

I wonder if it has to be a former NFL coach. A former NFL player would probably have a lot of clout as well. How would Marcus Mariota or Tua do as a high school coach, assuming after they retired from the NFL, they got a few years of being an assistant under their belt. Their name recognition in Hawaii could probably sway some transfers to a place like Kailua or Kalani. And build the program up to eventually get into the Open division in the long term.

I’d imagine a head coach in the NFL probably lives on the mainland. Even though Hawaii is a well known travel destination, it’s far away from where their family would be.

We have also seen how even a name brand college coach like June Jones was able to get kids to Kapolei in the one year he was there. So maybe he would fit your example. He does have a vacation home on the Big Island, doesn’t he?

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Re: What makes some areas of Oahu/neighbor islands more successful at football than others?

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@ChadFukuoka:

I think a former NFL coach would create the biggest draw. Could you imagine someone like Pete Carrol or Bill Belichick coming to Oahu to coach high school ball? Somehow I think either of them would draw bigger than Mariota or Tua, even though the latter two are from here. I mean, Carroll and Belichick are legends. Besides, while Mariota and Tua are great players, you can't be certain how they'd do as coaches. Carroll and Belichick are seasoned, proven, legendary NFL coaches. ( You could substitute any other legendary NFL coach that you'd like to.) Let's take Belichick; I think he's older than Carroll, so we could see him retiring sooner than Carroll anyway.
You mentioned Kailua High, but that school has long had a decent football team. You mentioned Kalani High, but that school has had a brief stint of "star" coaches Cal Lee and Ron Lee. Suppose a school like, say, Nanakuli High was the first to offer Belichick an HC position. So, per our scenario, Belichick accepts. I mean, could you imagine Nanakuli High having Bill Belichick as HC? The entire island would be freaking out.
Anyway, per our fantasy scenario, Belichick buys a house or condo that's not too far from Nanakuli High. He starts coming-in after school to hold tryouts and practices. And, I can't even begin to imagine who he would have picked as his assistant coaches. That in itself would be fascinating. Anyway, I bet it would be a mob scene at the school. Alumni would show-up at practice just to meet Belichick, get a chance to talk with him. It's a guarantee the media would be there on the first day. And could you imagine Nanakuli High's first game? There Belichick would be, roaming the sideline, in a Nanakuli coaching staff shirt!
Of course, Belichick lives on the mainland. But suppose, in our fantasy scenario, he had decided to move to Oahu, and took his wife with him. Though he's retired from the NFL, he still wants to coach football, but not have the pressures of a D1 college coaching position such as UH might offer. He's decided to coach high school. Imagine the headlines on the Star-Advertiser sports page: "BELICHICK NEW FOOTBALL COACH AT NANAKULI".

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