Kahaluu Broncos Are No Ka ‘Oi
The Kahaluu-Heeia Broncos’ collective cohesiveness has paid huge dividends this fall in the MiteyMite Division of the Oahu Pop Warner Football League.
Although the word “veteran” isn’t easily applied to a team of 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds, that is exactly what the Broncos have, according to head coach Chico Furtado. “The biggest thing is that we have 19 returnees from last year and, having so many, they understand what we do and how we do things,” said Furtado, who is also girls varsity basketball head coach at Maryknoll. “Ten of our 11 offensive starters were with us last year. Our quarterback, our two slot receivers and our running back all were first-year players a year ago, but they’re back.”
The Broncos entered their season finale last weekend with Manoa, still undefeated at 7-0. Next up, they hope to play a post-season game at Aloha Stadium and were awaiting word from the league. Although there’s no playoff system in place at the Mitey-Mite Division (as there is for the older divisions), a final game is usually scheduled between a West and East/Windward program to give the players a chance to play in Aloha Stadium.
“We hope we get to play there again,” said Furtado, whose Broncos played Ewa last year in just such a Windward-v-West matchup.
Even so, the 2012 season has already been one to remember for Kahaluu. On the field, defense has largely been the team’s forte. Kahaluu had given up only one score in its seven games heading into last weekend, that coming late in the fourth quarter of a lopsided victory. Indeed, the Broncos’ first-team defensive unit has surrendered no points in their seven games.
Keani Yadao, the Broncos’ defensive line coach a year ago, currently serves as defensive coordinator. Making defensive efforts all the more impressive is that strict rules govern defensive play in the MiteyMites Division. With that in mind, all defenses must play a six-man front in the line, and linebackers are not allowed to blitz.
“Taking that into consideration, he’s done a great job,” said Furtado. “He’s coordinated the defense really well, and the kids have bought into playing well on defense.”
Depth and team unity also have been big factors in Kahaluu’s success. “We’ve been able to minimize using two-way players. We have only three kids having to go both ways, while most teams usually have six or seven. We’ve had the luxury of using only a few. Our offense and defense can stay fresh, and conditioning is not a problem for us in the fourth quarter.”
Kahaluu’s biggest game to date came in week seven versus Kapahulu, which also was unbeaten. The game was scoreless deep into the fourth quarter until the Broncos put together a late drive to eke out a 6-0 victory.
“We had to grind it out to score with three minutes remaining,” Furtado said.
2012 Kahaluu-Heeia Mitey-Mites Division Games
Kahaluu 26, Waimanalo 0
Kahaluu 20, Hawaii Young
Kahaluu 20, Kailua 0
Kahaluu 33, Hawaii Kai 6
Kahaluu 26, Kalani 0
Kahaluu 32, Kaneohe 0
Kahaluu 6, Kapahulu 0