KEAAU – It looks and feels like just any other Kamehameha football practice – except at the top.
Former coach Dan Lyons has more free time than usual as Shaun Perry is busy running team drills at Paiea Stadium, and Lyons jokes that his new duties include media relations.
His new title is associated head coach, which is roughly defined as whatever Perry wants him to do. Lyons wouldn’t have stepped down, after his eighth season ended in a BIIF Division II championship, unless he thought Perry, his former lieutenant, was ready.
“He’s definitely going to put his own slant on things, and there are things that are going to be very similar,” Lyons said. “But there are things that are going to be sharper, smarter, more prepared. He’s amped up those things and quite honestly that’s why he needed to be the head coach. It’s supposed to be better.
“They’re ahead of where we were in the past on a lot of things. It’s quicker, tighter, snappier, crisper, faster. A team takes on the personality of its coach. It’s just a little bit more tense. I think we were really good at football, but I think it’s better now.”
As Lyons finishes a thought, Perry runs over to take his turn to speak as the face of the program. He’s energetic to be sure, but Perry wouldn’t have taken over if he didn’t think he was ready.
“I’ve been wanting to be ready for a long time, so when the opportunity presented itself,” Perry said, “it was time to sink my teeth into it. Throw me in and let’s sink or swim.”
“Dan is still the main guy,” he said. “Next to the (defensive coordinator) and the (offensive coordinator), I’m going to lean on him more than almost everyone else.”
The baton has been passed atop one of the BIIF’s most stable programs, and just how cleanly the Warriors adjust to that change will start reveal itself Saturday as they host Iolani in the first of their three non-league matchups.
The Raiders lost a nail-biter to eventual HHSAA Division I champion Waipahu in the 2018 state semifinals, riding their defense to a 7-1 record in the ILH.
In reality, the 10 a.m. kickoff can be considered more of a soft opening for Kamehameha. State rules mandate only players who have donned pads for all 10 practices since July 22 can participate this weekend, and Perry expects to dress 30 players.
“We want to get experience for our guys,” Perry said. “I would say we’re 50-50 on young and experience, pretty much right down the line.”
Players who will miss this one include Koby Tabuyo-Kahele, the team’s likely starting quarterback, and all-BIIF defensive back Izayah Chartrand-Penera, along with a handful of other contributors
Tabuyo-Kahele’s absence means another Perry, Shaun’s son Mike, a 5-foot-6 freshman, will make his high school debut at quarterback.
“Smallest quarterback in the state,” Shaun Perry said.
“But athletic,” Dan Lyons said.
It can be hard for a coach/father to compliment his player/son, but the elder Perry liked the way Mike Perry commanded the team in a recent scrimmage. When Tabuyo-Kahele returns, Perry will shuffle out wide and see time in the slot or receiver.
Against Iolani, an experienced offensive line, boosted by the return of assistant coach Manly Kanoa, will look to provide a security blanket for its freshman QB.
“I’m counting on (them) to rally around and really have a protective mentality of their young offensive leader,” Shaun Perry said.
Dan Lyons joked that Apu Alfiche ran so hard as a reserve last season that people wondered why he didn’t get more carries, and the senior likely will get that chance against the Raiders.
Defensively, Kamehameha is sticking with its 3-5-3 alignment, with all-BIIF linebacker Wilde Germano returning as the man in the middle.
According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Iolani returns a beefed up quarterback in Jonah Chong, who passed for 2,162 yards with 21 touchdowns as a junior, as well as playmaking receiver Carter Kamana (84 catches, 959 yards and eight touchdowns).
The Raiders also have the experience edge at coach – Wendell Look enter his 29th season.
Lyons scheduled this game, and Perry will keep his promise.
“We play fast and we play hard,” he said. ‘We’ll play spread and at tempo as much as we can.”
The game will mark his staff’s first chance to manage the new 40-second play clock, which starts at the end of each play, mirroring the NFL rule.
“It’s hard to say if it’s quicker, we don’t know what to expect,” Perry said. “We just plan on playing fast.”
Kohala at Kalani, 6 p.m. Saturday
The Cowboys reintroduce themselves to the 11-man game by visiting the OIA Falcons.
Coach Chad Atkins said Kohala has “roughly 35 players” out for football – and he’s still accepting more – though 27 will dress against Kalani.
“We want to be organized, get some much-needed game reps and maybe even some success,” Atkins said.