LIHUE — Kauai High School’s varsity football team has been grinding it out since March and hopes to put it all together when its season begins two weeks from now.
“We’ve been doing really well. We got a good coaching staff. The coaches are really helping us out this year,” said Red Raiders senior running back and defensive end Bulla Rapacon during Saturday’s practice. “We’re just all trying to get together as a team and play hard.”
New head coach Derek Borrero returns to coaching at the high school level following a four-year hiatus.
“I’m really stoked to be back out here again. I really missed coaching up boys and being out on the football field,” Borrero said. “It’s nice to be back.”
Borrero said one thing he’s been working on since the spring was building relationships with his new players, especially the upperclassmen.
“The juniors and the seniors, I don’t know them. I have a better relationship with the freshmen and the sophomores because I spent a little time in Pop Warner the last two years,” he said. “This is a little bit different, but it didn’t take long. The seniors and juniors were looking for a new beginning. The relationships that we built during spring been great.”
Saturday was the team’s first practice in pads.
“Our first day of pads, it was exciting,” said Red Raiders senior defensive back and receiver Damien Butac. “A lot of running around going on. Everyone’s going crazy trying to blow each other up, and I love it. It’s still a family. We’re here trying to march down the field.”
Butac said that practices have been a lot more disciplined under Borrero, compared to last season.
“This year, we’re all about business,” he said.
Borrero said something he has noticed in the few months he’s worked with the Kauai squad is how fired up the players are.
“The energy is awesome. The kids are flying around. They’re excited to be playing football, and they want to turn this season around,” he said. “The season they had last year wasn’t bad, but there’s just three teams on this island. It didn’t come out the way they wanted, but they’re excited to come back and be on the field again.”
The Red Raiders coach expects to rely on running the ball on offense quite a bit because he’s working with two young quarterbacks — sophomores Aukai Albao and Christian Manera. He said he hasn’t decided yet who will be the starter.
“They were my quarterbacks in Pop Warner. It was a smooth transition, but they’re young,” he said. “There’s a lot more they need to learn. So, we got to work around their strengths.”
The Red Raider boys were 3-3 in last year’s Kauai Interscholastic Federation season.
The team will play on Oahu against Damien Memorial on Aug. 15. The game is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Aiea High School.
“In the first two preseason games, it’s going to be really important to identify what our identity is this year,” Borrero said. “We’re going to be scrappy. We’re going to be a little bit of everything.”
Kauai High Red Raiders
1. Jacob Nakahiki-Young, JR, OL/DL
2. Sean Ebueng, SR, WR/DB
3. Damien Butac, SR, WR/DB
4. Kaiwi Nadarisay Bejo, SR, WR/DB
5. Keala Iwasaki, SR, WR/LB
6. Quinton Mundon, SR, TE/DB
8. Rhycen Yadao-Purisima, JR, WR/LB
9. Christian Manera, SO, QB/DB
10. Justice Cammarillo, JR, WR/LB
7. John Agni, SR, WR/DB
14. Jasper Jancinto, JR, WR/DB
18. Aukai Albao, SO, QB/LB
20. Joshua Rivera, FR, WR/LB
21. Mark Mejia, JR, RB/DB
22. Bulla Rapacon, SR, RB/DE
23. Kilipaki Pili-Mahoe, SR, WR/DE
30. Franklin Passi, JR, WR/LB
32. Jhustin Balisican, SR, RB/DE
33. Bryan Perreira, SR, WR/LB
42. Ronsen Fujii, JR, OL/DL
51. Andrew Liberato, JR, OL/DE
53. Travis Girard, SR, OL/DL
55. Taylor Barroga, JR, OL/DL
56. Kaleo Meatoga, JR, OL/DL
58. Keileb Albarado Planas, JR, OL/DL
59. Ami Fifita, JR, OL/DL
60. William Souza, JR, OL/DL
62. Braden Galiza, SR, OL/DL
64. Faafetai Mamea, JR, OL/DL
65. Raycyn Avigetaro, SR, OL/DL
70. Kaikea Barretto, JR, OL/DL
72. Abe Rivera, SR, OL/DL
74. Luke Garcia, SR, OL/DL
85. Robert Sauceda, SR, WR/DB
88. Noah Hoopii, SO, WR/DB