Kahaluu-Heeia Broncos Claim Title In Hawaii Pop Warner
A November to remember was exactly what head coach Chico Furtado had in mind for his Broncos, who play football in the Kahaluu-Heeia Junior Pee Wee division. What the veteran coach didn’t know was that his team would have to overcome the adversity that comes with a 24-0 defeat along the way.
But that’s exactly how matters played out when the Broncos advanced to the Hawaii Pop Warner title game Nov. 17 at Aloha Stadium. Their Kapahulu opponent was the very team that handed them their first defeat a few weeks earlier. The rematch was much sweeter, however, as the Broncos won 6-0 and captured the title.
“To have a 30-point swing and beat a team that had beaten you 24-0 doesn’t happen without the kids buying in and making the adjustments,” Furtado said, “and that was a really neat thing to see. The loss was probably a good thing for us – we had some kids who needed to experience it and realize that sometimes in football you can take your lumps.”
That signature win was followed by a Nov. 30 trip to Maui for the Pop Warner Jamboree, where they beat the Wailuku Rainbows 12-6 to complete the season.
All told, they finished 2013 with a 10-1-1 record, including the preseason. It was especially gratifying for all involved, since Kahaluu-Heeia didn’t field a Junior Pee Wee team in 2012. The bulk of Furtado’s current team played on the Broncos’ Mitey Mites team last year, which had rolled to a 9-0 record en route to winning the 2012 Oahu Pop Warner League. As such, the core of the team has gone 19-1-1 over the past two seasons.
“Although we looked forward to moving up, we also knew it would be challenging,” said Furtado, also the Broncos’ offensive coordinator. “We didn’t have any 11-year-olds on our team, and we realized in preseason that it was going to be much tougher. All of our games were much closer this year than in the past.”
Experience figured big in their success, according to the coach. “It was unique to have the same group together (17 returnees on the 25-player roster) for a third year in a row. They know each other, they’re all friends, and our staff has stayed together. Everybody in our offensive back-field returned, and our line-backers and our secondary were all the same (as with the Mitey Mites from 2012).
“It makes it easier for us to coach and easier for the kids to pick up what we’re teaching. And most of our coaches had a son playing, and I had my grandson on the team – and that makes it special. For them to grow and have some success was really good for our players, parents and our community.”
At the Junior Pee Wee level, guidelines are different from the Mitey Mite division. For example, Junior Pee Wees may blitz linebackers and play multiple defenses as opposed to Mitey Mite teams that only can play a 6-2. Even so, defense was the Junior Pee Wees’ forte. “The defense held up all year – they were pretty solid,” he said.
Furtado’s coaching staff included Keoni Yadao, Shaun Kalaukoa, Maui Kahalepuna, Nui Kanoa, Jeff Katto and Brenton Harbottle.