Tuesday | October 17, 2017
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BIIF 8-man football: Rebuilding Kohala returning to smash mouth football

Kohala is experiencing a rebuilding year with only four starters returning for the BIIF 8-man football season.

However, coach Reggie Tolentino doesn’t necessarily consider this a bad thing.

“It’s actually kind of good to see young and new talent come in,” Tolentino said. “We get to base our style of play on the players coming up. The four starters, they know what is going on, they know the style of play and the program, and they will set an example for the new guys. That is all I need.”

The Cowboys lost to Ka’u in the eight-man title game last year behind the Trojans’ ground and pound offense led by 2016 Player of the Year, Buddy Flores.

Kohala, who tried to implement a more passing style offense last season, plans to return to the ground and pound this year behind new offensive coordinator Vernon Karrati and a group of linemen that have played together for nearly four years.

“Our entire line is basically returning from last year and we are going to go back to old school smash mouth football and run the ball down everyone’s throat,” Tolentino said. “We have a good line and a couple of young guys in the backfield with speed.”

The Cowboy’s line is led by Royce Manning, Jason Enojardo, Dayton James and Dalton Franco.

“These are big boys so we are going to have some protein up front,” Tolentino said. “Look for them to play hard and do their job. They also have some speed, they are real disciplined about blocks, memorizing plays and going straight ahead.”

Manning, a senior on the line who will also play tight end, says the the linemen are a close group of players.

“We are a humble group, more like a family than anything,” Manning said. “We work together, even outside of school.”

While the group may be humble, they are still eagerly looking forward to contact — like most linemen are.

“We love to hit,” said Enojardo, a senior who plays both ways on the line. “We are going to do well shutting teams down. I want to end this amazing football year on a good note. I want to go out with a bang.”

The line on offense will be blocking up front for a pair of runners in the backfield in J Sean Giron and the young Zhane Ching. Giron was the team’s slotback last season but will move to fullback this year, while Ching takes over at running back.

“J Sean is fast, loves to hit and he has good vision for the field,” Tolentino said. “Zhane can hit a hole really fast. If a hole isn’t there, he can stop on a dime and make something happen. The best thing, we get him for the next three years.”

Leading the offensive will be quarterback Ryan Juan Kealoha. This will be his first year at QB for Kohala.

“Ryan holds his poise well and is very disciplined and coachable. He is kind of a perfectionist,” Tolentino said. “He understands the game well and he has an arm. Our receivers better be ready on the short passes because the ball is coming fast.”

At tight end, Manning will be one of the go-to receivers, along with Keanu Pahio and Zak Javillonar. Tolentino added that there are a number of guys who could play the position this year.

“Pretty much everyone we have at receiver can catch the ball,” Tolentino said. “We are not really worried about it. We just have to make sure the guys are running the correct routes.”

Pahio and Giron will also be anchoring the defense as linebackers. Other standouts include Keola Dewitt at tackle, Aukai Aipai at safety and Cael Hooton at defensive end, who is the brother of Moses Hooton, who was named the 2015 Defensive Player of the Year.

“Keola is real quick and he can get to where he needs to go fast,” Tolentino said. “Aukai also has good speed.”

The young Kohala squad will get its first taste of action in a preseason game Saturday when they welcome Molokai to the Big Island. The game will be at 10 a.m.

Having seen very little footage on Molokai over the last year, Tolentino isn’t exactly sure what to expect.

“We went there two years ago and it was a good experience, so this will be very interesting,” Tolentino said. “Knowing them they will bring the game no matter what.”

With so many young guys, Tolentino is thankful for the preseason game so the kids will have a chance to find out what high school football is all about.

“Some of them are still stuck in PlayStation style,” Tolentino joked. “Hopefully this game will give them move of an understanding in our style of play and help answer why we coach the way we coach. It will be a good indicator to see where we are as a team. If there is something we need to work on, we can make adjustments.”

 

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