Menehune ready for Honolulu’s Raiders

WAIMEA — The Menehune squad opened its season with a 38-0 win over Waiakea of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation last weekend.

While it’s always a good thing to start the season off victoriously, head coach Jason Caldeira said he wasn’t totally pleased with his team’s performance and will look to clean up some things.

“We had our team goals — the turnovers and the penalties. Lack of mental focus, that’s the part of the game we got to get a lot better at if we want to be competitive with Kauai High and Kapaa,” Calderia said during Thursday’s practice. “That’s going to hold us back from reaching our ultimate goal, which is a (Kauai Interscholastic Federation) championship.”

Waimea High School’s varsity football team will head to Oahu and play Iolani of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu to wrap up its preseason.

That matchup is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Raiders’ home field.

“I’m using this game as another step in maturity for our team before we approach our KIF season,” Caldeira said. “We’ve been on the lower end for so many years. I’ve been watching these kids grow up since they were in grade school. They’re slowly getting there. They’re slowly growing up and slowly maturing. This is just a big test for them, and an opportunity to take an even bigger step in maturity, mental toughness and understanding true competition.”

Menehune senior linebacker and offensive lineman Justin Fernandez, too, said the team could have played better last week.

“We could have did better. Those plays, we could have done harder and did our blocks more better,” Fernandez said.

Limiting those mental mistakes is what Caldeira hopes the team will be able to do on Saturday.

“Every day, we’re focused on that — mental assignments. Just staying focused,” Caldeira said. “Kids are going to be kids, yeah? Especially in this day in age. They’re easily sidetracked by the littlest thing. …. But that’s what football is. You got to tough it out, stay focused, stay in the game and stay in the battle. We didn’t really put our whole emphasis in the week towards that, but it’s just something we do every day. Our week was the same as any week.”

He added: “The (Waiakea) game did a lot for them confidence-wise. One thing I was impressed with my team after the game was how they weren’t satisfied with their performance. They knew they could be better. They understand we have to be better in those things.”

Waimea (1-0) had lots of success running the ball in the opener, totaling 322 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns against Waiakea. Caldeira wants to see that train continue.

“We’re hoping that will last all season long. We’re looking to run the ball,” the head coach said. “We feel like we have talent at the running back area, with not just (senior Cody Taniguchi and junior Avery Miguel), but with a couple of guys that didn’t get to play the last game. We feel like we can run it. That’s one of our strengths.”

Iolani (1-0) defeated reigning Division II champion Radford of the Oahu Interscholastic Federation, 42-6, on Aug. 6. The Raiders were the Division II state winners in 2014 — defeating Kapaa in the semifinals en route to winning that title — and have since moved up to Division I.

“When they asked to play us, it was an honor. I couldn’t think of a better blessing for our team — to get that experience,” Caldeira said. “A D1 team who used to be, pretty much, at the top of D2. We already play a team yearly that’s pretty much at the top of D2 in Kapaa. Now, they get a taste of D1 competition. It’s a blessing for the boys to go out there and compete with a top school like that. I can only see it as a positive in helping us get better for our season.”

Fernandez said execution will be key for the team this weekend.

“We’ve been working hard on making sure we get our assignments correct, and we fill our holes correctly and do our jobs,” he said. “It’s very big.”

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