Kauai O-line readies for battle

The wisdom of the Buddha, the power of the Autobots, and the unity of hand will hopefully pave the way Saturday for the Kauai High School football team.

“It’s the brotherhood,” said Devan Ferreira, one of the Kauai High School football team starting offensive line. “We all come together and play as one.”

Comprised of three juniors, two seniors, and a sophomore, the starting offensive line, three of whom were named to the Kauai Interscholastic Federation football all-star team, displays a wide range of talent.

Ferreira, Clint Matias, Shawn Apilado, Ramsey Lopez, Jared Astrologio and Nate Herbig fill the slots of the starting offensive line.

“Just call him Ank,” said Herbig, the sophomore and youngest member of the starting six. “He’s the anchor for the team. He helps us stay as one.”

True to form, Ferreira filled the focal position of center. Beyond his physical position, Ferreira watched over the group, cautioning them about what they were saying.

“It’s about team bonding,” said Astrologio, while speaking before the rest of the team, which spent the moments before practice tossing a football against the wall of the weight room amidst laughter and chatter.

“We just did what we had to do against Iolani for the ‘W,’” Astrologio said. “We really worked hard.”

Mario Longboy is Kauai’s offensive line coordinator.

“What motivates us is to show the people outside of Kauai what we can do,” Herbig said. “No one thinks we’re capable, and that drives us to do more.”

Most of the six players on the offensive line came into football by overcoming obstacles.

“We didn’t make the weight requirement for Pop Warner football,” said Clint Matias. “We played for Kauai Youth Football, where they didn’t have the weight requirement and allowed us to play.”

Lopez, whom Herbig called The Buddha, said all of them came together as freshmen and have grown up through the Red Raider junior varsity program, a program where Tommy John Cox served as coach until taking the helm of the varsity team, this year.

“It’s been a long journey,” said Lopez, a senior. “Now, there’s just one more game, Saturday.”

Throughout the several minutes leading to practice, the group was silently attentive and observant.

The keen sense of reading comes to play each time the line takes its position, communicating its read between themselves in the split second before the quarterback calls the play, Matias said.

“That’s Father Tommy,” Herbig said, dismissing the coach’s query about the whereabouts of Ferreira, minutes ahead of practice. “He’s my father.”

The sense of humor and camaraderie is the glue of the bonding between the O-Line.

“We go make the ‘O’ like the Buddha,” Herbig quips. “We’re going to be wise when we play.”

Like fingers on a hand, the players bring their individual skill sets, combining to form a singular unit.

Herbig said the group calls itself the Autobots, a shortened form of Autonomous Robotic Organisms in the fictional universe of the Transformers.

“One of the things you can do with a hand is clench,” Astologio said. “And when you clench — jus‚’ smash.”

The Kauai High School football team squares off against Kaiser High School for the First Hawaiian Bank Hawaii High School Athletic Association, Division II football championship starting at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Aloha Stadium on Oahu.

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