Ex-NFLers Win State Prep Titles
I don’t know if they keep these kinds of records, but to the best of my knowledge the state of Hawaii made history the weekend before Thanksgiving at the HHSAA state football championships.
For the first time in island history, and perhaps for the first time that this has happened in any state, both head coaches of the championship teams were former NFL players.
Rich Miano, the second-year head coach of Division II state champion Kaiser, is an 11-year NFL alum – having played in the defensive backfield for the New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons (under head coach June Jones).
Kale Ane, who led Punahou to its second Division I title in five years, played seven years as a center for the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers.
Both are also local boys who grew up in the islands and returned to their alma maters. Miano led Kaiser to a Prep Bowl title in 1979 while Ane led Punahou to the ILH title in 1970. Miano believes the professional experience was helpful in his development as a head coach.
“No question about that,” he says. “Being with three teams and with different coaches and different philosophies made a real difference.”
Miano points to one coach in particular for making a huge impact in his life.
“Bud Carson was my mentor,” he says. “We were No. 1 against the run, No. 1 against the pass, and No. 1 overall. He definitely taught me the most.”
Carson was Miano’s defensive coordinator with both the Jets and the Eagles.
“I remember him telling me as a rookie (out of UH) that if I made a mistake I would be on the next plane out of JFK,” he recalls. “I remember him for how tough he was, but also for how much he cared. He made me a better football player.”
Miano believes those memories helped him in his post-playing career coaching journey, from an assistant at UH to associate head coach there to his new career leading Kaiser High.
“I tell my players that we need to approach everything we do with the right attitude. For example, lack of punctuality in the NFL costs you $500 a minute,” he says. “I tell my players to be on time, to be prepared, and they can win the battle. In the NFL, it was winning on Sundays. Now it’s winning on Friday nights.”
Miano has instituted mandatory study hall, as well as voluntary weight lifting.
“It might as well be mandatory,” he says, “because everyone shows up.”
He brings his professionalism, intensity and enthusiasm with him every day.
“I could be on the field with these kids all day long. They mean so much to me,” he says.
Winning the DII state title was the culmination of a dream. “It’s jubilation, almost surreal,” he says. “But I’m also glad it’s over, so I can spend some more time with my family.”
Next year, he says he expects that Kaiser will move up from DII to DI, and then he wants to make history again.
“My goal is to be like Alika Smith,” he says of the former Kalaheo and UH basketball star who led Kalaheo to a DII title and then a DI championship last year. “We won the White (division) this year. Now we’re going after the Red.”
For Rich Miano, there’s always another goal, another dream, another chance to make history. He did it as a former walk-on at UH who made it all the way to the NFL and then proved that you can come home again.
“I was born to do this,” he says.