Categorized | Featured, Football, Sports

Alumni football games light up Kealakehe

Waiakea marching down the field against Honokaa. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

No-one was really paying attention to the scoreboard this weekend at Kealakehe High School football stadium.

A pair of games, organized by Alumni Football USA, featured athletes who had hung up their cleats after high school, but were itching to play one more game.

Saturday evening’s game matched up Kealakehe and Konawaena, while Sunday afternoon saw Waiakea take on Honokaa. Final scores: Konawaena 24, Kealakehe 12; and Waiakea 39, Honokaa 0.

“That was so awesome. And so fun. It did bring back a lot of old memories,” said Matt Kakalia, Class of 2006. “As soon as you hit the field, you remember all those memories from high school games.”

Kakalia, who lives in Kona but suited up for Honokaa, said he was most impressed with some of the athletes who graduated from high school before he was born in 1988.

“Like, Fred Lindsey. He was great,” Kakalia said.

Fred Lindsey collects his 'oldest man of the field' medal. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Lindsey, Class of 1979, also suited up for Honokaa and was given a medal for being the oldest player on the field Sunday. Lindsey, who lives in Seattle, flew in especially for the game.

Saturday night’s ‘oldest honor’ went to Hano Grace, who graduated Konawaena in 1993.

After Saturday night’s game, Jerry Mareko was dirty, tired and happy.

The Konawaena 1998 graduate, who last played football in 2009 in college, said he had a blast.

“College ball was nothing like now. I got to play with my younger brother, my older brother and my cousins. These guys are my heroes. It was awesome,” he said.

Mareko, who helped organize the games on the Big Island, said another highlight was being able to earn some money for youth activities and programs.

“We’re just a bunch of muscleheads out here, but we got to raise some money, so that was really the best thing,” he said. “I’d just like to really thank everyone who came out tonight.”

Player introductions. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Alumni Football USA presented a check to team captain Mareko for more than $6,000. Once all the pre-sale tickets and concessions are tallied, that total is expected to near $10,000 and will be split between three Pop Warner football teams, a youth baseball team and the Kealakehe robotics program.

Bob Cazet, Hawaii site coordinator for Alumni Football USA, said he was pleased to bring the program to the Big Island.

“We had over 700 guys sign up statewide and I can guarantee we’ll have more than that next year,” Cazet said. “Once these guys get a taste of the game again, they’ll be watching the DVD and talking about it for 20 more years.”

Cazet, who has been involved in alumni games since 1985, said the athletes who return to the field do so for the love of the game and the camaraderie.

“But there is even higher reason. In high school, there is a lot of tension, now these guys are a little more mature and can enjoy it,” he said. “We can affect the community, so that’s a great plus.”

Kealakehe stadium was packed for the Saturday night game, with people standing four or five deep along the walkway and sitting in the aisles.

“I’ve never seen it like this,” Mareko said. “Totally great.”

First half of Konawaena-Kealakehe match up. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Pacing the walkway Saturday evening was Ed Rocha, who coached Waiakea High School football for 18 years and was anxious to get back on the sideline for the Sunday afternoon game.

“These guys surprised a lot of people just by showing up,” he said. “There are about 30 guys signed up who I coached before, plus some guys from Hilo. It’s impressive. We’re glad this got off the ground. It’s really about giving back to the schools.”

Standing in line at the concession stand Saturday evening, Keoki Rivera wanted to hurry up, get his chili-n-rice and get back to his seat.

“This is pretty crazy. It’s so good to see all my old friends lining up again,” he said.

Rivera, a Konawaena Class of 1996 alumni, said he wasn’t really rooting for either team.

“I know guys on both sides, so I don’t really care, but I can’t believe the atmosphere tonight,” he said. “It’s so great. All families and friends. I love it.”

— Find out more:

A game jersey is presented to the family of Jesse Mahelona. The Kealekehe High School defensive tackle was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2006 and played for four NFL teams before he died in a car crash Sept. 5, 2009 in Kailua-Kona. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

The players:

Kealakehe Roster

Keola Cachero Wimbish
Matt Kakalia
Johnny Ambrosio
David Kanehailua
Peter Ebaniz
Kaina Lee
Tyson Fukuyama
Kepa Komoku
Kyle Ching
Donald Goings
Malkum Muhammad
Hoomalu Souza
Michael Mitsuda
Alii Gilman
Michael Mateaki
Johnny Lapa
Tai Papalii
Kaneke Kekaualua
Bryson Oandason
Nick Aranas
Ernest Kanehailua III
Tyson Kahoonei
TT Anakalea
Keola Loando
Alvin Tayo
Patrick Kapuniai
Jerry Aipia
Keone Kealoha
Bulla Malakaua
Shane Mata
Etu Fruen
Andrew West
Jeffery Marks
Shaun Santiago
James Kamoku
Mikey Martinez
Thomas Kamoku

Konawaena Roster

Jerry Mareko
Sipou Mareko
Mauna Taumoefolau
Wesley Samoa
Loma Canda
Wesley Basinga
Hano Grace
Hezekiah Ambrosio
Jimmy Rivera
Shayne Wong Yuen
Josh Mareko
Micheal Navarro
Matt Kaili
Haloa Paakonia
Keoni Paoa
Thomas Deniz
Abel Serrao
Nano Padillio
Akoni Navas
Cody Silsey
Kona Yurong
Kawika Karratti
Rustin Saole
Shaun Langsi
Oni Kihe
Shannon Hardie
Jacob Kenison
Harvey Alani
Kahoa Kreinberg
Thomas Garcia
Matt Genco
Jr Debina
Onipaa Alu
Darren Elisaga
Dean Debina
Tyler Deniz
TJ Reilly
Kekoa Ynigues
Bernard Cantiberous
Robert Leslie
Isaiah Tavares
Jon Taetuna-Fautanu
Eric Rabara
Duke Akiona
Steve Swanson
Bradduh Fleming
Travis Kuahuia
Kincaid Antolin
Noah Alani
Tyson Decambra

Honokaa Roster

Anderson Agustin
Tywin Ah Puck
Terrance Ah Puck
Tyson Ah Puck
Daniel Carvalho
Daivah Domingo
Joel Galdeira
Jacob Galdeira
James Kaaekuahiwi
Darrell Kanekoa
Noeau Lindsey
Fred Lindsey
Bryson Loo
Zenos Lou
Kapono Lukzen
Kalae Mock Chew
Kyle Nakamoto
Kalae Nobriga
Keola Nobriga
Chauncey Revilla
Delton Thomas
Kellen Tolentino
Patrick Vinluan
Josh Derego
Eddie Morales
Bronson Younghansen
Levine Tupe

Waiakea Roster

Leroy Shelton
Patrick Chong
Hunter Oshiro
Uriah Hose
Luke Leasure-Lucas
Richard Chong
Michael Chong
Rilan Ferreira
Tyler Iyo
Aaron Azevedo
Sean Hanohano
Russel Botelho Jr
Titus Naihe
Aka Kaleo
Shane Hanohano
Kalan Murata
Glen Kyota
Micheal Kyota
Rylan Malakaua
Thomas Cowell
Isaac Pang
Faamanu Teofilo Jr
Laimana Mauga
David Tahutini
Maikai Kanui
Isaac Nihoa
Klayden Kanehailua
Dustin Palisbo
Alken Keakualua
Jordan Keahi
Solomon Thomas
Kamuela Johansen
Robert Nakayama
Pono Kanui
Kepa Kekaualua
Palani Gaspar
Halton Chartrand
Jacob Pakani
Aaron DeMello
Troy Familar
Andrew Tipon
Nogi Guillermo
Kuran Murata
Billy Benevides
Adam Veloria
Ryan Kekuawela

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