More Talk With Coach Maeda
Castle’s longtime head coach Nelson Maeda recent- ly took some time away from practice to speak with MidWeek’s Windward Islander. The dean of East Red coaches, Maeda is in his 17th season at the helm. Below is Part Two of his interview.
Castle was one of the first Hawaii teams to excel with the spread offense. What has helped it to be proficient in this scheme?
Some 12-13 years ago, we were ahead of our time with our use of the spread offense. The change was necessitated by our personnel. It enabled Castle, which has smaller linemen (but some great skill players) a chance to compete against bigger teams. Our philosophy and schemes have allowed us to get our ‘skill guys’ in the open areas, playing fast-break basketball down the field. The No Huddle Shotgun philosophy, coupled with our emphasis on being in supreme physical condition, wore down teams in the fourth quarter. The QB always has been the key, and we’ve had some great ones come through the program — Arnubi Bruhn, Joel Botelho, Bryce with Castle, Kalaheo and Kailua entering OIA play Friday. (Kahuku is idle this week and returns to action Aug. 31 when it hosts Kalauokaeaa, Brycen Ukau- ka, Kevin Rapozo and JaymasonLee,allAll-Stars.
How has Kela Shea adapted to Castle’s version of the spread?
Kela has the ability to do the same as the previous QBs. A year of familiarity running the offense last year will help him immensely. As Kela goes, so goes our offense. He is a perfect fit for what we’d like to do, considering the personnel we have. He’s intelligent, very coachable, very athletic (plays basketball), fast (he competes in the hurdles in track and field), has that game savvy, and he has the respect of his teammates. We’re fortunate this season to have a new QB coach in Paul Ah Yat who will help Kela immensely as the season goes along. We’re looking forward to Kela providing the leadership and game management on the field that will allow us to be competitive and to be successful. He has the potential to be one of the league’s best QBs this season.
As you recall your own playing days at Kailua, what has changed the most in prep football?
Prep football has changed drastically since the dinosaur days when I played for Kailua (year unmentioned). Players are now quicker, faster and way bigger! A 300-pound lineman is com- mon today, and many are not round but chiseled. Training methods also have advanced and filtered down from the college ranks where athletes are quicker and faster. The game’s speed has increased dramatically. Athletes train year round more and/or play other sports, which betters their football skills. Offensive and defensive schemes are much more complex with a collegiate-level thinking filtering down to adapt to the high school level (Run and Shoot, Oregon Spread Offense, etc.).
The one constant that never changes — and some- thing we try to hone, develop and identify to the players — is the size of the ‘heart’: Never quitting, playing with no fear, with a reckless abandon, confidence and a little swagger. The late Joel Botelho had this. He was like the Pied Piper whom all would follow to any end; that propels them to a higher level of play.
Have you noticed an extra buzz with the new football stadium (and other features) nearing completion?
We’re all excited and are anxiously anticipating the completion of the field turf and rubberized track. It will help our team to have a fast playing field that will never be muddy or slick, and will hopefully give our players an added edge on turf familiarity so we can take advantage of our speed. It’s unfortunate for this year’s seniors that it looks like they won’t have a chance to play on it, but that’s out of our control. Some ask if the turf has attracted more players, but if the turf is the reason, they are playing for the wrong reasons. As always, it should be for the love of the game, and the window of opportunity for high school players to play is very small and goes by very quickly. Just ask any departed senior.
They all need to understand that they won’t want to say down the road, ‘I should have, could have, and would have, I wished I had!’