Senior project: Waiakea has experience, but they’re focused on effort, not outcome

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald With senior Reyn Segovia-Tanonaka at quarterback, Waiakea hopes to run a balanced offense.

Waiakea football coach Neil Azevedo has a huge roster with 71 players, including 14 seniors, so a few of them remember the 2019 season, which didn’t end happily ever after.

The Warriors return four players each on offense and defense from that BIIF team, which suffered the worst loss in league history: Hilo 104, Waiakea 0.


But it’s a new BIIF season and that nightmare is two years in the past, so it’s time to move forward, and Azevedo is as optimistic as ever.

“The kids work hard with a good attitude and try their absolute best on and off the field,” he said. “We are not worried about the outcome but are just glad that they can play. The athletes are just extremely grateful and appreciative to be back on the field.”

Asked to describe his offense, Azevedo sounded like Bill Belichick: “We will be running and passing.”

Give nothing away, not even a weather report to an inquisitive opposing coach, who might get, “It’s a good day for football,” whether it’s supposed to be pouring cats and dogs or forecast to be a sun-baked day at Ken Yamase Memorial Stadium, nicknamed the Imu for the steaming heat that radiates on the field.

The Warriors host Keaau on Saturday at the Imu, where the weather report calls for 60% chance of rain, giving a slight edge to Waiakea because the Cougars run an Air Raid (four-receiver set) concept.

Better still, Waiakea practices at the Imu and is used to playing on artificial turf that steams the feet and facing a glare from oven-hot metal bleachers.

Asked to describe his team, Azevedo turned into Nick Saban, an equal to Belichick as far as giving a nebulous answer.

“We’ll be all right. We are not the fastest but not the slowest, not the biggest but not the smallest,” Azevedo said. “We are good to go.”

Reyn Segovia-Tanonaka will be in charge of Waiakea’s nebulous offense, surrounded by running back Keanu Tavares, and receivers John Torres, junior Jai Miyamoto, and sophomore Toren Segovia-Tanonaka. The rest of the guys are seniors.

Azevedo was a tad bit more descriptive when talking about his Warriors.

“Reyn has fun, a man of he offense and a leader,” he said. “Keanu is speedy. He’s like a kid in the candy store. John, Jai and Toren are all excited to play.”

Aidan Tyran, a 6-foot-5 senior, leads the offensive line.

“He’s a very hard worker and gets better every day,” Azevedo said.

The Warriors will run 4-3 defensive front with linemen Kris Tamanaha and Robert Pule-Annes in the middle and Kepa Kaunaoe and Keyan Gebin on the edges.

“Kris and Robert will clog the middle, and Kepa and Keyan are very fast on the outside,” Azevedo said.

Tevita Hala Latu, Matthew Nases, and Malachi Torres will start at linebacker. Nases, a 5-8, 160-pound junior, is a returnee, who’ll provide experience.

Renzo Vidad will be counted on at safety, and Miyamoto and Isaiah Kaman will start at cornerback.

“Renzo is quick and can read a play,” Azevedo said.

For those wondering why there are missing starters, like offensive line or safety, that’s because Azevedo is old-school. Positions battles are ongoing, and if you want your name in the paper work harder.

Alexander Tuson, a junior, is a returning kicker from 2019 and has range from 45 yards. Sylis Conley-Ruth, a first-year player as a junior, beat out everyone to land the punting job.

“Alexander has a strong leg and good attitude,” Azevedo said.

The Waiakea coach isn’t concerned about inexperience. He’d rather focus on something else.

“Our athletes have been working hard,” he said. “We do not look at inexperience. We look at how much fun the athletes are having.”

OK, one last attempt: Who has stepped up as a leader, coach?

“The seniors have stepped up and helped the coaches on the field,” Azevedo said.

What, you were expecting a detailed analysis on one individual player? Not going to happen at the old-school regime under Neil Azevedo.

But there are 14 seniors, and for recognition’s sake, here they are: Scott Ramboyon, Keanu Tavares, John Torres, Renzo Vidad, Reyn Segovia-Tanonaka, Isaiah Acdal, Reef Kohara, Tevita Hala Latu, Rudy Martinez, Isaac Dakujaku, Kris Tamanaha, Aidan Tyrin, Darius Julius, and Xander Macomber.


Saturday Keaau, noon

Oct. 29 at Kealakehe, 6 p.m.

Nov. 6 at Hilo, 5 p.m.

Nov. 13 Konawaena, noon


0-10, 0-11

Head coach

Neil Azevedo (third season)



“We are not worried about the outcome but are just glad that they can play. The athletes are just extremely grateful and appreciative to be back on the field.”

– Azevedo

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