Sunday | December 10, 2017
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BIIF boys soccer: Clear sailing for BIIF title favorite Kamehameha

With a war chest of capable seniors and assistants coaches on hand, and its greatest roadblock no longer around, Kamehameha boys soccer coach Kevin Waltjen appears to have walked into a ready-made situation for success in BIIF Division II.

There’s just one issue, Waltjen said – himself.

“I don’t know if we’re the favorite,” he said during the preseason. “Anytime anybody sees a change in coach, they go ‘Oh, that’s a questionable thing already.”’

But the senior core six – David Erskine, Kailikea Kekuawela, Justin Kenoi, Rylan Respicio, Tyler Waltjen and Jameson Sato – can provide a lot of the answers, and it’s not like Waltjen is new to the program.

A former AYSO Select and club coach, Kevin Waltjen watched from afar and upclose as former coach Mario Patino revived the program during his four seasons at the helm, guiding Kamehameha to its first BIIF D-II title in 2015 and consecutive appearances in the HHSAA final in 2015 and ‘16. Waltjen also coached many of the senior six before they reached high school.

“The transition has been so smooth,” said Sato, an all-BIIF goalkeeper last season, “especially since he’s a coach/parent, he has so much support.”

Kamehameha is coming off of a BIIF runner-up finish behind Hawaii Prep, which is out of the way – at least after the Warriors’ opener Thursday in Waimea– after moving up to Division I.

Waltjen will adopt much of Patino’s defensive, counterattacking strategy, with a few modifications here and there. Under Patino, the Warriors liked to pack it in and pick their spots to advance offensively.

“The only difference is how we utilize the roles. Every position on the field has to play offense and defense,” Waltjen said. “I count on the seniors to make sure everybody understands.”

As a freshman on the 2015 title-winning team, Sato watched mostly from the sidelines as a group of seven seniors led the way. Kenoi, Kekuawela and Tyler Waltjen were contributors and Erskine and Respicio subbed in on a team that got by primarily with one goal-scoring source, Dominik Pajimola.

The past two years, Sato has been able to watch the Warriors evolve from his unique position as goalkeeper, and he’s seen his team develop more versatility.

“With the chemistry, we have with each other, and the intelligence that comes with playing together so long, the ball just moves so much smoother,” Sato said. “We don’t need that one person up top anymore, like Dominic.”

Tyler Waltjen is an all-BIIF returnee at center mid, and Erskine and Respicio run the win.

Naturally, Sato is partial to Kenoi and Kekuawela, who run the back line.

“In all honesty, with as much as we’re around each other at school and all, it’s a blood brotherhood with my defenders,” Sato said. “I trust Justin Kenoi with my life. I can honestly say that.”

The senior six are matched by six assistant coaches. That group includes one for Warriors goalkeeper, Sean Miday, and one former Big Island mayor, Billy Kenoi.

Yeah, Kevin Waltjen is in a pretty good spot.

“They work hard and they are determined,” he said. “I am very fortunate. They are team-oriented and uphold how the game is supposed to be played.”


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