“It’s amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.”
That succinct John Wooden quotation sums up Konawaena’s Domonic Morris and Mikey Rabara. The talented seniors lead by example, and their only focus is to take the Wildcats football team as far as it can go this year.
In the preseason, Konawaena played five-time Division II champion Iolani on Oahu and fell 43-40 in a thrilling contest at Aloha Stadium. But Morris, Rabara and their teammates would like nothing better than to play the highly regarded Raiders one more time this season — in the state Division II championship game in November.
“We’d love to win the BIIF this year and get farther in the states than we did last year,” Konawaena coach Cliff Walters said. “And we’d love to play Iolani in the championship game. But first we’ve got to get through the BIIF, and that’s not an easy thing to do.”
When Walters took over the struggling Konawaena football program last year, there were a lot of unanswered questions. But the Wildcats responded under the new coaching staff and captured the Big Island Interscholastic Federation’s Division II crown. They then lost in the first round of the state championships to Lahainaluna 23-6 on Maui.
Of course, Walters and his Wildcats hope to do it again with the ultimate goal being a state title.
“Last year, HPA took us lightly, and we were able to sneak it (Division II title) away from Kamehameha(-Hawaii) and HPA,” Walters said. “This year, we have a big target on our back, and the BIIF is tough again.”
Walters believes the challenging BIIF schedule will eventually pay dividends in the state playoffs.
“We’re all in this together,” he said. “We want to see all of us get better and try to raise the level of football played on the Big Island. If we can do that, we should be able to better compete with the Oahu teams.”
If the Wildcats are going to return to the state championships, they’ll need highly productive seasons from their leaders, Morris and Rabara.
Morris is a 5-foot-8, 155-pound wide receiver/safety.
“He’s our go-to receiver,” Walters said. “Last year, he was second in the state in touchdown receptions. He’s an exceptional player and a team leader.
“He sets a great example, loves to win, and is one of our hardest hitters. We’ll count on him for a lot of things.”
Last year, Morris was selected All-BIIF in football and baseball. He plays center field for the Wildcats in that spring sport.
Walters said Morris, a strong student, has drawn college football interest from Vanderbilt, Colorado and some other schools.
Rabara, a 5-11, 175-pound linebacker/tight end, is the Wildcats’ leader on defense.
“He’s a very intense linebacker,” Walters said. “He’s a great cover guy and hits with pop on his tackles. His head is in the game at all times.”
Last year, Rabara earned All-BIIF honors as a linebacker/fullback. This year, he plans to improve on an outstanding junior season.
“Mikey has good speed and good range,” Walters said. “He’s a leader. He talks a lot and is always excited about playing.”
Rabara also plays basketball, and last year during the BIIF playoffs, he played the second half of a game after breaking a bone in his foot in the first half.
“He’s a tough kid that loves to play,” Walters said.
Rabara has drawn college interest from Colorado and Montana.
“They’re looking at him as a linebacker or strong safety,” Walters said.
Even with big targets on their backs, the Wildcats are talented this year and could repeat as BIIF Division II champions. But to get there, the play of Morris and Rabara will be keys to Konawaena’s success.
After all, their goals are to be strong leaders and help make their teammates better — and that’s exactly what Walters is counting on in what should be another outstanding season for the Wildcats.