KAPAA — The high school football season is just around the corner and the teams of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation are hard at work.
“The offseason was all right. Just cannot wait to get going,” said Warriors football head coach Philip Rapozo during Tuesday’s practice.
Kapaa won last year’s KIF championship and finished the league season unbeaten.
The Warriors went on to beat Oahu Interscholastic Association’s Pearl City in the first round of the Division II state tournament and lost to Iolani of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu in the semifinals.
Though Rapozo hopes to repeat last year’s success, he’s keeping things in perspective.
“I think if we take care of our stuff and we work the same way we did last year, I think that’s always possible,” he said about repeating as KIF champs. “I’m pretty sure Kauai High will be better this year, and also Waimea. I don’t want to disrespect them and say we’re going to run the table. We know we got a lot of work ahead of us.”
“It’s kind of rare for us in Kapaa. We haven’t won multiple championships since ‘88, I think,” he added. “It’s fresh in my mind and in the coach’s mind — it’s not easy to defend (a title). If you go by our past, we haven’t done it much. I expect these kids to realize that anything is not given. You got to earn it.”
He added though this year’s team is younger in comparison to last year’s team, it has the potential to be better.
“We actually have a lot of depth. We’re more talented than we were last year,” the head coach said. “Last year’s team was really talented. We have that this year, and we have extra. That’s the thing about this team.”
The Warriors’ defense was a formidable factor during last season’s run. Senior linebacker Mosese Fifita said he expects it to be just as daunting this time around.
“We have a lot of returners on the defense. They really know what they’re doing,” Fifita said. “Just get to the ball as we did last year. If we have more chemistry than we had last year, we can probably be the same or even better as last year.”
On offense, Rapozo intends to implement a more balanced attack whereas last year’s team relied heavily on effectively running the ball.
Junior quarterback Kurt Napoleon will be this year’s starter. He had some playing time during the waning minutes of last year’s semifinal game when the team’s starter was injured and the team lost 29-24. Rapozo believes Napoleon can build from that experience.
“From that game, we realized he’s a competitor,” Rapozo said about Napoleon. “I think if he had 30 seconds more, I think he would have done the job. That was exciting to see, having him come from the JV team and just fill in in a big game like that and drive us down the field. We just ran out of time.”
Senior offensive lineman Brandon Quilos shared the same sentiments.
“We’re coming along. We’ve been practicing hard and we’re going to keep working hard,” Quilos said. “I think we can do both pass and run. I think we’re pretty good at both.”
Kapaa will begin its season on Saturday, Aug. 8 on Oahu against OIA’s Nanakuli at Kapolei High School. The JV game will start 5 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
“I know Nanakuli is a physical team with good speed,” Rapozo said about Kapaa’s upcoming opponent. “They’re a dangerous team. They’re well coached.”
1. Keona Nakamura, JR, DB
2. Leslee Aki, SR, WR
3. Dillon Apilado, JR, DB
4. Makena Tabura, JR, WR
5. Kekoa Kaluahine-Cacal, SR, RB
6. Bryce Dato, SR, DB
7. Leighton Moniz, JR, RB/WR
8. Jason Hawthorne, JR, LB
9. Gabe Keener, JR, WR
10. Kurt Napoleon, JR, QB
11. Clifton Oliver, JR, K
12. Kaiona Nakamura, JR, DB
18. Makalapua Vidinha-Rivera, JR WR/QB
21. Christian Roslin, SR, RB
22. Edward Bernabe, JR, DB
24. Kaohu Gutierrez-Kelly, JR, WR
25. Justin DeForge, SR, RB/WR
27. Ryan Joel, JR, DB
28. Davey Joel, SR, DB
30. Ikona Fernandez, JR, DL
31. Daniel Asotasi, JR, DB
32. Tevita Koli, JR, DB
33. Mana Kupihea, JR, LB
34. Izaya Valeria, JR, LB
35. Mosese Fifita, SR, LB
40. Rymen Jerves, SR, LB
42. Trestin Alfiler, SR, DL
43. Ola Tatofi, SR, DL
44. Nehemaia Kafoa, SR, RB
45. Keanu Mahuiki-Yokotake, JR, DL
50. Mikela Matayoshi, JR, OL
51. Bryson Poai, JR, DL
52. Jonathan Bilyeu, SR, LB
53. Braxton Bridges-Basuel, SR, OL
54. Llewllyn Woodward, JR, OL
55. Kapena Texeira, JR, DL
56. Brandon Quilos, SR, OL
58. Ryan Montero, JR, OL
60. Alan-James Duterte, JR, OL
62. Kenneth Firestone, SR, OL
63. Daniel Gorospe-Kaaihue, JR, OL
65. Kelepi Loketi, SR, DB
68. Mo Unutoa, JR, OL
70. Nene Tolenna, SR, DL
71. Kaina Christian, SR, DL
72. Kaimi Gonzales, JR, DL
75. Kaimi Mahuiki-Yokotake, SR, DL
77. Jason Woodward, JR, DL
82. Aloni Malafu, SR, RB
83. Jovan Gouveia, SR, DL
85. Christopher Yam, SR, WR
88. Asia McNarney, SR, DL
95. Liki Koli, SR, DL