Entering his 30th season as head coach of the Iolani football team, eight time state champion Wendell Look is gearing up for a return to the gridiron.
After being sidelined for the last 20 months, the scheduled start to the Hawaii High School Football season is set for next weekend as the Raiders will open their eight game regular season by hosting Kaiser on Saturday, August 7.
The “One Team” motto that has become synonymous with the ILH program will look like a complete new team in 2021 since only 19 players from the 2019 roster were freshmen and sophomores in Hawaii’s last official season of football.
Adding to the anxiety of getting back onto the field following a pandemic cancelled campaign is that Iolani has been waiting to run it back since they lost on a 55 yard field goal in the Division-I state title game to Hilo as the clock ran to zeroes, and has remained ever since.
“When looking at who the leaders are every year, it’s always a senior class,” Look told KHON2 Sports reporter Alan Hoshida. “They were the last group, they have some bad memories of the Hilo field goal kicker bouncing it off of the post and winning the state championship. So, they’re the ones that you’re going to have to watch for.”
Among that group of senior leaders are running back Brody Logan Bantolina and defensive back Stirling Sakashita. In 2019 Bantolina carried the ball 111 times, posting 563 yards and 10 touchdowns for the ILH D-I champions while Sakashita averaged five tackles per game with three interceptions including a pick in the ILH title game against Damien.
“I think the biggest thing is just got 100 miles per hour. It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake. Everybody got to get to the ball, because we’re not the biggest. We’re not the fastest but if we can get everybody to the ball and make plays I think it will help our team a lot,” said Sakashita.
According to the Raiders, being able to practice in the spring per private school policies provided a spring board to offseason workouts and created momentum for the program ahead of the 2021 season.
“With the motivation through the past year we have all been working hard and we built ourselves up to keep the team on track to get the goal of the championship,” said Bantolina. Throughout the years we have been getting cut short. My freshman year our team lost in the semifinals and the last time we played we lost in the championship game so this year the goal is to win it all.”
The Raiders will open the 2021 season on Saturday, August 7 at 3:00pm at Hamada Field on the Iolani campus.
Stay with KHON2 on air and online for continuing coverage of the 2021 Hawaii High School Football season.