PUHI — Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said he felt like he was ready to play football Thursday night during Na Koa Football Club’s Meet the Coach event at Kauai Community College.
“They gave me a chance,” said Carvalho, a former UH football. “The program may have challenges, but that’s something that comes with everything. This is about the game.”
Rainbow Warriors’ head coach Norm Chow was joined by a team of coaches, including Tom Mason, defensive coordinator, Don Bailey, offensive coordinator, Jake Cookus, the special teams coordinator, and Abe Elimimian, the assistant coach for the secondary.
Also on the visiting coaches list, Chris Naeole, the team’s offensive line coach, melded in with the crowd of about 100 people who enjoyed heavy pupu and drinks courtesy of Mark’s Place and Contemporary Flavors while they mingled and talked to their friends as well as the Hawaii football coaching staff.
“Chris wanted to come,” Chow said. “When he found out we were coming to Kauai, he asked if he could join the group. He wanted to show off the island where his in-laws are to his fellow coaches, some of whom have never been here before.”
Chow said Naeole is responsible for looking at Kauai for potential recruits in addition to his regular duties.
Naeole, a graduate of the Colorado Buffaloes, said it doesn’t matter that Hawaii opens its season on Sept. 3 against Colorado.
“It doesn’t matter that I was a Buffalo before,” he said to Dickie Chang. “Our Hawaii offense should be able to get some points on them.”
Bailey said fans should be pleased with the new pieces in the offense.
“The kids started to come together in spring practice,” Bailey said. “They want to be aggressive and score. Some of the guys will change and get bigger, especially in the line. We’ve got some people returning from injuries and with more guys coming in. I’m sure people will like what they will see. The guys want to play fast, but we don’t want to sacrifice speed for execution. We want to be able to pass, and run the ball.”
The game against Colorado opens a rigorous schedule for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.
“We’ve had no complaints from the players, or anyone from the coaching staff,” Chow said. “We’re going to play as best as we know how. It doesn’t matter what we wear or what we look like — we’re going to play the best way we know how. I told the coaches it’s 13 straight weeks of football. On Aug. 3, you kiss your wives or girlfriends good-bye because the next day off comes at Thanksgiving.”
Mason said one of the goals of the team is to win a spot in a bowl game.
“No bowl game?” he said. “That’s unacceptable. Ever since I got here, it’s been unbelievable and exciting watching the players buy into the program. The Hawaii Bowl? The guys are buying in — win seven home games? Doable. It’s going to be an exciting time for Hawaii football.”
Chow said Mason was the defensive coordinator for former Hawaii coach June Jones, and when Jones stepped down as coach, Mason had to double as the defensive coordinator as well as being the acting coach.
“He understands the guys,” Chow said. “His wife, Jamie, is a graduate of Radford High School so I knew he would be here.”
Chow is excited about the coming season.
“Chris had offers from the professionals, but said he is staying because there is still work to be done,” Chow said. “We’ve been able to hire a staff who does a very capable job. We lost three coaches. But that is a compliment to the program because they left for better offers. We’ve had new players come here, some as transfers, to be able and spark the program.”
“The players and coaches don’t care about the schedule,” Chow said. “We haven’t had any complaints. We are going to play as hard as we can, and we’re going to survive. We’re going to get wins at home.”
Carvalho said Kauai needs to support the Rainbow Warriors.
“We just need to support in any kine,” Carvalho said. “Financial, going to the games, or just being a fan — we gotta support, any kine. I feel like I ready to play, now.”
Chow said during the 2014 season, Carvalho was an honorary captain.
“But he came late so he couldn’t talk to the guys before the game,” Chow said. “We let him talk during halftime and the guys played one hell of a second half.”
Mark Oyama and Kim Fujiuchi spearheaded Na Koa Football Club’s Meet the Coach event.