With seven state championships and 16 former players in the NFL, Kahuku High and Intermediate School has some of the most fertile football talent grounds in America.
Laie’s finest don’t often taste defeat, but in late August, the program suffered one of its biggest losses when coach Feso Malufau lost his battle with cancer at 44.
Sam Spangler takes us on campus where Malufau’s legacy continues to flow.
“Every day I come out here, I still feel him out here. I still feel him out here,” said Aisa Wily, Laie Park Raiders head coach. “The kids know that too, and all the kids that played under him that’s out there in the high school level, they know that Coach Feso is always going to be with them. Nobody can take anything away that Coach Feso taught them and instilled in them. I had a chance to spend that time with him. The good Lord blessed us to have him here on earth, so I’m happy. I’m happy.”
Despite his quiet demeanor, Malufau made an echoing impact on a community wild for youth football by winning and earning enough respect from his players to help turn the Big Boys into young men.
“He’s a very inspirational man,” said Kahuku linebacker Miki Ah You. “He showed us how to be strong out there as a team and our brothers will always stay with us.”
“(He taught us) how to be strong, to fear nothing,” said Kahuku running back Sefa Ameperosa. “He always tries to find a way to make things fun in some kind of way.”
The entire Red Raider football team attended Malufau’s memorial service to celebrate his last ride through Laie with an honorary haka.
“They all came and it was just amazing in itself that one person can affect so many lives,” said Lori Vimahi, Laie Park Raiders team mom.
“We wanted to show our respects, thank ‘Coach Juice’ for all that he’s done for us,” said Ah You.
“For them to do something and honor him and show tribute to him on his last day was, that was beautiful. That was really beautiful,” said Wily.
The virtue of “Coach Juice” will live on through his passion, the magic of Laie Park’s lessons being taught by those who learned from him.
“When I come to practice, I look out here and this is his legacy,” said Wily. “I remember coach would always tell his kids to get an education, and when you’re done doing all you can, when you get time, always come back and give back to our kids.”
“That was a great role model to do that to us and it’s an example for us who come back and serve everyone back home,” said Ameperosa.
“We could probably go through the entire football team at Kahuku as well as here at Big Boys, just the impact that Coach Juice made on them and everything he taught them, both on and off the field,” said Vimahi.