By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Miles Marshall never envisioned being picked as a co-captain as a sophomore.
“I was shocked when coach told me,” Marshall said.
Then again, few could have foreseen a Waiakea boys soccer team ever being this young and inexperienced.
After two consecutive trips to the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I championship game, the Warriors are senior-less and acknowledge that it’s time to hit the reset button.
Waiakea endured the first of what could be a few lumps this year Friday in a 5-1 preseason loss against Hilo. The Warriors had trouble sustaining offense and at times looked disorganized, but considering his team’s predicament, Marshall took the setback in stride.
“I honestly expected worse for us,” he said. “It actually went better than I thought.
“We’re rebuilding, definitely.”
Waiakea is also thin in the junior class, and coach David Urakami is breaking in 14 first-year players to help provide depth.
Hajime Hayano and Marshall are the two returning starters.
“My juniors, maybe two or three are polished and have good soccer experience,” Urakami said, signaling out Hayano and Ty Yamamoto.
In the meantime, Urakami can’t yet put his finger on just what caused the void in upperclassmen.
“We’re trying to figure that out. Where is that gap coming from?” he said. “How are the the feeder programs coming from the intermediate and two elementary schools?”
Urakami began his second stint as coach at his alma mater three seasons ago. Behind standouts Cameron Boucher, James Yamane and Nuu Aiava, the Warriors improved each season en route to consecutive BIIF runner-up finishes and appearances at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament.
While this group may have farther to go, the hope is that it can make a similar progression.
“This bunch is very moldable,” Urakami said. “We’re just trying to build them and take them up to the next level each time we play.”
Tenacious and smart, Hayano was a prime playmaker for Waiakea last season, finishing with five goals. He’ll likely play center midfield this season, while sophomore Codi Hwang-Prince will be counted on to provide more scoring punch, either teaming with Hayano or playing up top. Coleman Chaves is another sophomore to watch.
Sophomore Tyler Kerr, who scored against the Vikings on Friday, is penciled in to provide stability at full back along with Marshall.
“Hajime’s got to carry the offense this year, I’ll carry the defense,” Marshall said.
All the inexperience could make it a busy year for sophomore goalkeeper Chris Wung.
Urakami said he expects a few players to return from probation to help spark Waiakea at forward with their aggressive nature.
The Warriors, who will play their home matches at St. Joseph High School this season, open Dec. 1 at Makua Lani.
Thrust into the role of team leader, Marshall has a few lesson plans in store for his teammates.
“I plan to make our team watch professional games so they understand how to play their positions,” he said. “It’s just learning as we go. Our team’s not so confident, but we’re working on that.”
Editor’s note: This is the second installment in a series of BIIF soccer previews.