Tuesday, July 26, 2022 | By Nick Abramo
Solid football is a Waianae staple.
But that is not the only thing westside fans want. Generally speaking, the townsfolk are clamoring for a return to those heady days when the mere mention of the Seariders caused opponents to shiver.
Sure, Waianae was good enough to advance to the OIA Open Division semifinals a year ago, and the Seariders have been sniffing around, albeit unsuccessfully, for OIA and state titles during the past two decades.
This fall, however, there is a renewed sense of hope for a return to those glory days after the hiring of Thom Kaumeyer as head coach. The former NFL player with the Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants is not some huckster miracle worker who will snap his fingers and except titles to materialize.
But Kaumeyer is going to focus on discipline and require more hard work than has been expected of the Seariders in recent times. And maybe that will bring them to the much-awaited promised land, where Waianae was when it won 18 OIA championships between 1962 and 1997 and earned four Oahu Prep Bowl titles in 14 appearances from 1973 to 1998.
“I can tell you that no one out there is working harder than us,” Kaumeyer told his boys as they ended practice Monday with the beautiful blue of the Pacific as a backdrop.
There is no reason to doubt the veracity of that statement, but even if it isn’t true, it’s still a solid way to build confidence in the Seariders. His words came right after the squad did 100 sit-ups — 25 for all four quarters of an imagined football game.
“This is not about me,” Kaumeyer was quick to point out. “It’s about them. They’re the ones who play the game and they’re the ones who will be in the football problem-solving situations.”
Kaumeyer is no stranger to Hawaii. He has a home in Makaha, where he had been shuttling to and from Japan before landing the Waianae job. But he is most well known in these parts as the University of Hawaii’s defensive coordinator in 2012 and ’13.
“It’s gotta be a structured chaos,” Kaumeyer said about his approach. “You can hit as hard as you want, but I want to see you tackle — hitting things in the right way, wrapping up and sustaining blocks.”
As a defensive-minded guy, Kaumeyer is thrilled to have a bunch of senior returnees on that side of the ball.
“We want to make teams have to drive on our defense and not give up those big plays,” he said. “On offense, we want to be keeping the opponents off balance. If the run is not working, then we will go to the pass. And if the pass isn’t working, then we’ll run. We need to be able to do both. I’m also a really strong believer in protecting the quarterback. The more pressure on him, the less confident and more uncomfortable he will be. We want to get to third down and manageable. We don’t want to be in a situation where we are pressed to get big chunks.”
Expected big contributors defensively are linemen Timuani Cook and Fale Timoteo, defensive backs Alvin Kalahiki and Keoni McLeod, inside linebacker Dustin Pave, and the brother outside linebacker tandem of Brayden and Curtis Jackson.
Offensively, it’s going to help having 6-foot, 4-inch, 300-pound senior tackle Josiah Timoteo — a UH commit — anchoring a line that will protect veteran senior quarterback Tarent Moniz-Babb.
Among the many other senior returnees on the offensive side expected to make an impact on the Seariders’ fortunes this year are center Chevy Lopez-Kaawa, running back Tevin Wilbur, and receivers Joshua Santiago and Akoni Halemano.
The Seariders will scrimmage OIA Division I (middle tier) champion Aiea on Thursday and against state D-I champion ‘Iolani on Saturday. The season opener, a nonleague encounter at Castle, is 10 days away,. Then comes the league opener, which is a biggie — two weeks later at defending state Open champion Kahuku.
“We’ve made a lot of progress,” Kaumeyer said. “We’ve got really good coaches and I’m excited about it. Now, it’s a matter of the players trusting the new system and the process and be doing that when the bullets are live. You never know how they’ll react.”
There were signs at practice Monday that the players are buying in.
“Coach T.K. is amazing,” McLeod, the senior defensive back, said. “He understands us. He actually breaks it down so we can all get a shot at it, especially in the classroom where he breaks it down to the point where we can feel free switching things up on the field and still doing our assignments. I feel like this year is going to be successful, win or lose. We’re all still hungry. We didn’t quite finish where we wanted to last year.”
Perhaps Waianae’s return to the golden days will happen sooner rather than later. But there is still a very, very tough road ahead, with teams like Kahuku, Mililani, Campbell and Kapolei and other pesky OIA Open contenders standing in the way.
It’s not lost on Kaumeyer that the community is yearning for much more than a steady contender. And, whether he succeeds in doing so or not, his eyes are on that prize.
“We want to make Waianae come alive on Fridays and Saturdays again,” he said.
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