Coach Maeda Counts On Knights’ Team Play, Discipline

With his team deep into preparations for Friday night’s Oahu Interscholastic Association crossover game at Aiea, longtime Castle head coach Nelson Maeda recently took some time away from the practice field to answer some questions for MidWeek’s Windward Oahu Islander. Maeda is the dean of coaches in the East Red entering his 17th season at the helm. Part one of his interview follows.

What have you liked best about the 2012 Knights in the early days of fall camp, as well as your summer and spring workouts?
We have a core of returning seniors that is committed to the team and works hard to give them the best chance of being successful. The numbers are small — in the mid-30s — and many will go two ways playing both offense and defense, but they are looking forward to the challenge. The sour taste of last year’s disappointing season — especially losing the perpetual Hammer Trophy (in the annual game versus Kailua) — lingers on their minds and motivates them to practice with a purpose. All we ask is that all give their best efforts on the field — win, lose or draw. We can then leave the field satisfied.

Who on the Castle roster that we perhaps are not aware of yet is ready for a breakout year?
We are looking for some solid team play from all, but especially the crucial quarterback position manned by Kela Shea (see accompanying story). We need consistency, able team leadership on the field and out- standing game management. He has a season of experience under his belt, being thrown into the fire last season with the injury to Brett Harrington (who has since transferred to the Big Island) which gives Kela familiarity with the offensive system.

We are also looking for some outstanding two-way play from senior Jacob Pitt in the trenches. He will need to be a factor in being an able blocker as well as a force on the defensive side putting pressure on the offense.

Another player who can have a big impact for us is junior Makana Bee (SB/DB) who can be a big play factor with his “track” speed.

Although Castle has a long history of great play- ers at all positions, line- backer has always been a strong position for the Knights. What are your thoughts on the current linebacker corps?
Castle has had a great corps of linebackers through the years — Cori Daniel, Blaze Soares, Corey Paredes, Kawehi Sablan — all who went on to play collegiate ball. This season the LB position is actually the strength of our defense. Don Kaio, Steven Yam, Kawena Kawaa, among several others, will need to continue the great LB play that is needed for our defense to be successful, especially since we don’t have the size up front. They will have to be extremely active and all over the field.

What area of the team has impressed you the most to date?
It’s a team that continues to work hard, but is like all the rest, a work in progress. They continue to respond to coaching in a effort to get better every day. We know the challenges we face in our schedule — starting with Kamehameha (last weekend). Aiea and Farrington are looming down the road. We were actually a team that was supposed to drop down to D2 or White classification this season, but we petitioned with the league to try to remain in D1 or Red level. Fortunately for us, Kalaheo had no desire to move up, so we were able to trade with them and remain in the Red. Our program feels that to move the program in an upward climb, you need to play the best, and it will be a challenge with Kahuku, Farrington, Kailua, etc. We will need all to play up to their potential with great team play, big hearts, strong minds and with reckless abandon and outstanding team discipline.