Kapolei Anticipates More Close Encounters This Season

Balanced describes the OIA Red West football race in recent years. Kapolei head coach Darren Hernandez certainly concurs after his team experienced the ups and downs common in the league. His 2012 Hurricanes endured back-to-back shutout losses at mid-season before surging back with three straight wins en route to a 3-3 league mark and a third-place league finish.

The forecast this fall is for more close encounters, but Hernandez is hoping they can take the next step. “We definitely look good on paper, but the game isn’t played on paper,” he said. “If we finish third or below this year, it will be a disappointment for this group. The league will be super tough with Waianae, Campbell, Leilehua and Mililani. We’ll have to play lights out to be in position to contend. We have the players – we just have to play as a team.”

Offensive lineman Micah Kapoi will lead the way. A 6-4, 290-pound senior, he recently committed to play for University of Hawaii. He’ll be joined on the offensive side by playmakers Aizon Kahana (quarterback), wide receiver Alton Julius and running backs Mana Reis and Tristan Pebria.

In his second year behind center, Kahana helped fuel a win over rival Campbell with four touchdown passes last September. “He’s a great game manager,” Hernandez said. “He didn’t turn it over much last year. He’s very smart and very capable. He gets it done.”

Julius tallied five touch-downs as a sophomore last season, meanwhile, and will be “our go-to-guy in the passing game,” according to Hernandez. Reis was the featured back in the attack last fall, while Pebria had a stellar season at Campbell before transferring in the off-season.

On the defensive side, Kapolei will feature more star power, led by Kingston Fernandez and Kalani Vakameilalo up front. “Kingston has a great motor – he’s very strong and very fast. Kalani is a rock in the middle. He has great instincts to the ball, and you can’t single block him or he’ll be in the backfield.”

Chris Pierce-Kerisiano will anchor the secondary at strong safety. A senior, he returned two interceptions the distance last fall.

Linebacker traditionally has been among Kapolei’s strongest positions, and the coach envisions big seasons from Micah Paris and Alika Sene-Bailey. “Micah is so active – he runs sideline to sideline, and he’s a great leader who plays with great intensity,” Hernandez said of Paris, who was Kapolei’s leading tackler last year with 107 stops. “Alika had a great summer.”

Kapolei’s public unveiling is set for Friday night, when it hosts Division II Pearl City in a preseason game.