Kapaa native Shaun Aguano hired as RBs coach at Arizona State, leaves behind Chandler HS dynasty

  • The Garden Island file

    This Jan. 2016 photo shows Shaun Aguano.

  • Patrick Breen / The Arizona Republic

    Chandler’s head coach Shaun Aguano instructs his team during their first practice at Chandler High School in Chandler, Ariz., in this July 23, 2018, photo.

A Kauai boy is getting his chance at coaching Division I college football.

Kapaa native Shaun Aguano was hired as the running backs coach for Arizona State University last week.

“It was a huge blessing for me and my family, especially to work for Coach Herm Edwards at ASU,” Aguano said in a phone interview Friday. “I’ve worked with him at the Under Armour Game. He’s just an incredible man, and our philosophies are exactly the same when it comes with dealing with students-athletes. So, it was an easy move for me to make.”

Aguano, 48, was previously the football head coach for Chandler High School in Chandler, Ariz.

During his eight-year tenure as head coach, Chandler won four state championships — including the last three straight — and his overall head coaching record was 88-19, The Arizona Republic reported.

“It was very difficult. My two older kids are there, and my wife Kristin teaches there,” Aguano said of leaving Chandler High. “It was very hard because I’ve been there for 17 years. Just leaving those kids and leaving that program, it’s a nationally-renown program. Making that jump into the unknown was tough, especially for all the coaches and all the family that I left there.”

Aguano said the last time the school won a state title before him was in 1949.

“I think when I got there, I brought a lot of what I had growing up in Kapaa — bringing that aloha to the kids and loving the kids,” the coach said. “Them playing for us and building that program into a family-type environment, that helped us get over the top.”

Despite his success and his connection to Chandler High, Aguano said the shot to coach college football was too good to pass up when the ASU program reached out to him.

“I always thought of maybe getting into the college ranks. I was very comfortable at Chandler High School, where we were one of the top 20 schools in the country for the last five years,” he said. “When this opportunity came, I just think it was a no-brainer for me to take. Without moving my family, and just the challenges that were presented and being in big-time football, it was a blessing.”

He added: “I meant a whole lot (that they reached out to me). Because I’ve worked with Coach Edwards, he knew exactly who I am. Also having the landscape of knowing Arizona and Hawaii, being connected with a lot of high school coaches in the country, that was intriguing for them, too.”

The 1988 Kapaa High School alumnus was a four-letter athlete in high school — football, baseball, basketball and track. After high school, he played football at Linfield College, a Division III school in Oregon.

Aguano was the head basketball coach and an assistant football coach for Kapaa High. He moved to Arizona in 1999 from Kauai.

In addition to winning state titles, Aguano had great success grooming running backs at Chandler High.

The Arizona Republic reported Chandler had three rushers that had 2,000-yard rushing seasons that are either now or will be playing Division I college football.

“I played the position in college. And then, the last five running backs that we had, they all made it to big-time Division I, and one is playing for the New York Giants right now — that Paul Perkins kid from UCLA,” Aguano said. “We’ve had a bunch of running backs, and that’s where I feel most comfortable.”

Aguano has hit the ground running since he was hired by ASU.

He was officially hired last week Thursday and then left for the recruiting trail. He said he just returned to Phoenix after visits all over California.

He said he aims to not only keep Arizona talent in-state, but to also bring prospects from Hawaii into the fold.

“It’s been awesome. We did a caravan with nine coaches. So hopefully, I’ll get a chance to recruit Hawaii, that’s going to be huge for me, and then all of Arizona,” he said.

The Sun Devils running backs coach said he last visited Kauai about four years ago.

“I just want to thank all the Kapaa High School coaches, those guys that gave me the opportunity to do what I love,” Aguano said. “I’m just a small-town Kapaa boy trying to make it big.”


Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or ncelario@thegardenisland.com.

  1. Savich January 19, 2019 1:47 am Reply

    Shuan Aguano: A inspirational story. But as one may know life teaches all of us some things or two. In life a day job teaches one to work for what you want. The profession is not sports. Skills is needed for a good job. It looks like you ended up with a financial issue. What other skills do you have? Why not just write the article yourself? At 48 years old, it is no longer sports. But a worker, or a husband. Some things doesn’t fit here.

  2. KapaaBoy January 19, 2019 11:08 am Reply

    Finally found success after he ruins the Kapaa Sports Teams for the name of playing favorites and nepotism.

    His younger brother and friends found high school loser fame through his ineptness and he screwed over the best players and athletes all over the east side of Kauai. No one good player wanted to play for him because he made it that way.

    The Kapaa teams suffered even when they won they lost.

    I remember him and his foolishness.

    He done good by finding a way to be away from family and friends and pick and play the best players. Too bad he couldn’t do that for the Kapaa High Warriors.

    I will always remember and not forget what he did.

    Kapaa boy wants to make it big but wronged so many Kapaa kids in the past to get to where he is.

    His youngest brother was garbage compare lid to him and his other brother. He was a great player for Kapaa Warriors but his genes weren’t passed down but was forced for everyone to suffer.

    It was a time when Kapaa Warriors had great talent but he and the other coaches ruined it.

    Many are witnesses and victims of the Kapaa Boy trying to make it BIG.

    Favoritism was the Kapaa Warriors Great Demise during his years.

  3. Robert Edwards January 19, 2019 11:45 am Reply

    Glad to see a fellow 88er from Kauai do well.

  4. John Kaneholani January 19, 2019 7:20 pm Reply

    Congratulations Shaun what a great story and accomplishment for you. Say Hi to the ohana!

  5. Christopher Takenaka August 24, 2019 4:51 am Reply

    Aloha bruddah Shaun! This is Ninja.

    We were already excited to know you were up in Chandler as some of us are sprawled out between Phoenix and Tucson. WildDog is working for the City of Tucson, so he is rooting for you down south. Oro Valley will be housing many ASU alumni as it builds its campus there, so we will have a better opportunity to root for you up close. Positive vibes coming from da real Kapa`a boyz.

    Aloha our good bruddah Shaun!

    WildDog Takenaka

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