McKinley looks to ‘restore the roar’ with return of Tigers football

It’s kick-off weekend in Hawaii high school football as a total of 13 games across the state will be played, including the return of the McKinley Tigers.

Head coach and proud alumni Sam Cantiberos, in his second season, will lead his squad onto the field Saturday against Pac Five at Aiea as the black-and-gold move from Division I to Division II.

That move down in divisions comes one year after having to forfeit their final two games of the season due to safety concerns with limited players on the roster, and having been outscored 359-16 in the team’s first six games, all losses.

McKinley Head Football Coach Sam Cantiberos
McKinley Head Football Coach Sam Cantiberos

However, the Tigers are back with a full roster with no threat of having to end their season early, motivated to “restore the roar” on Pensacola Street.

“Last year was definitely a blessing. The kids that came out again that endured that nightmare, they’re out here working hard. They’re on the same page. They’ve bought into what we’re trying to do as a football program, making the kids that are younger than them understand as well. So now we are at full-strength and moving forward,” Cantiberos told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello.

Cantiberos is no stranger to the mission of “restore the roar” at McKinley.

In 1993, he was an all-league running back with the Tigers on a team that went from 0-8-1 to 7-2, claiming a share of a division title in the OIA, under head coach David Tanuvasa, who remains as McKinley’s winningest coach since it moved to the OIA with a record of 60-41 in 10 years.

“We’re trying to bring back the spirit of McKinley, the black-and-gold. It’s been a nice process thus far and we can’t wait to play,” said Cantiberos.

Among the leaders on the team returning are junior linebacker Frank Steffany and senior quarterback Elyjah Badua, who posted 132 passing yards in a loss to Mililani last season.

“We just look back at last year as just something that we never want to have happen again. This year all we strive for is championship and nothing less. I think that if we keep our mindset like that and we just keep pushing, things will turn out in our favor,” said Badua.

The Tigers, who have adopted the mantra of one-time McKinley student Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson of “just bring it,” will bring a determination to snap a 16-game losing streak dating back to 2013 to their game against Pac-Five at Aiea.

Kick-off is set for 4 p.m.

WEEK ONE SCHEDULE:

Friday, August 5

  • Waianae  @. Kamehameha  – 7:30pm
  • Punahou  @ Leilehua  – 7:30pm
  • Damien  @ Moanalua  – 7:30pm
  • Kalaheo  @ Castle  – 7:30pm
  • Campbell  @ Kapolei  – 7:30pm
  • Waipahu  @ Nanakuli  – 7:30pm
  • Roosevelt  @ Kaiser  – 7:30pm

Saturday, August 6

  • KS-Hawaii  @ Waiakea  – 1:30pm
  • Pac-Five  vs. McKinley  – 4:00pm @ Aiea
  • Maui  vs. Kapaa  – 7:00pm – Vidinha Stadium
  • Iolani  vs. Radford  – 7:00pm @ Aiea
  • Pearl City  @ Lahainaluna  – 7:00pm
  • Saint Louis  @ Mililani  – 7:30pm

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