WAIMEA — Waimea High School’s varsity football team may not be the largest or most experienced in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation this year. A total of 35 players will suit up for the varsity Big Blue — only seven of whom are seniors.
Those on the outside may view them as underdogs yet again. That’s perfectly fine with them.
“We’ve all built a brotherhood. All of us work as a team this year — no more individuals,” said Menehune junior running back and linebacker Cody Taniguchi during Wednesday’s practice. “When all of us work together as one, we can go far. Hopefully, we can pull off that victory.”
Second-year head football coach Jason Caldeira said the team held its summer camp at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Mana.
“We headed down to the base, PMRF. It’s something different. They worked hard under the hot sun out there. … It was good. I wish we could practice out there every week,” Caldeira said. “We were secluded. It was just an us-type bond with the kids. It definitely helped us just focus on football.”
Last season, the team started with in a 26-21 victory over Hawaii Prep Academy of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation. The team, however, went on to to finish the KIF season with an 0-6 record.
Although the results weren’t favorable, Calderia said it was necessary to go through those growing pains in order to fulfill the bigger picture of what he envisions for the program.
“It was definitely a learning experience that I wouldn’t give back for anything. I think it made me a lot more focused and work a lot more harder for this season,” Caldeira said. “It definitely helped me as a coach and as a person, realizing the amount of responsibility that comes with this job.”
He and this year’s squad aren’t dwelling in the past. They’re looking at what’s ahead of them.
Waimea will host Kaimuki of the Oahu Interscholastic Federation at Hanapepe Stadium on Friday, Aug. 7 to begin its 2015-16 campaign.
“This year, I feel like we got a real fresh start. It’s a small amount of seniors, a lot of junior and sophomores. I feel like this year, it’s a different start. It’s a fresher start,” Caldeira said. “I know a lot more today about what to expect this season and how to prepare with the team and with the coaches.”
Calderia added he expects his players to work hard, progress and to prove themselves on the gridiron.
“We’re probably going to be the underdog every game this year, which can be a good thing sometimes,” he said. “At the end of the game, if we earn their respect, that’s the thing we’re looking for. At the end of the game, we want them to say, ‘Damn, those Menehunes were tough and they didn’t give up.’ I think if we go in there with that attitude, with that Menehune spirit that never gives up, the end result will take care of itself.”
Sophomore quarterback Keaka Wisneski was promoted from the junior varsity team and will be the team’s starter. He was also named a team captain.
“At first, I was scared because I never had that experience,” Wisneski said. “The intensity and the level is higher. … Just got to start taking everything serious.”
Athens Acosta, SR, OL/DL
Syone Apo, SO, WR/OLB
Dylan Balaan, SO, WR/DB
Lanakila Banquel Gushiken, SO, RB/DB
Storm Costales, JR, OL/DL
Waika Corr, JR, FB/LB
Connor Donaher, SR, TE/LB
Alil Emayo, SR, OL/OLB
Mike Emayo-Schmidt, SO, OL/DL
Caleb Ephan, JR, OL/LB
Justin Fernandez, JR, OL/LB
Kainoa Fontanilla-Rapozo, JR, WR/DB
Tayden Francisco, JR, WR/DB
Justin Fune, JR, RB/DB
Keoni Gaorian, JR, TE/LB
Evan Hensley, JR, WR/DB
Kaiea Kali, JR, OL/DL
Terrance Kamaka Riley, JR, OL/DL
William Kamaka Riley, SO, WR/OLB
Harrison Kanahele, SO, OL/DL
Keatin Mariano-Hardy, JR, OL/DL
Avery Miguel, SO, RB/DB
Ardino Ned, JR, RB/QB/DB
Austin Ragocos-Apo, SR, OL/DL
Tresten Ramos-Bautista, JR, OL/DL
Jaycob Rapanot, SR, RB/LB
Alijah Reynolds, SR, OL/OLB
Makana Ruiz, SO, OL/DL
Darrien Sagucio, JR, OL/DL
Kailen Simao-Castillo, JR, FB/QB/LB
Noah Simao-Raposas, SO, OL/DL
Israel Sylva, JR, OL/DL
Cody Taniguchi, JR, RB/LB
Keaka Wisneski, SO, QB/DB
Alika Ventura, SR, TE/OLB