The Idaho running back and former Damien star is used to playing on the Aloha Stadium turf
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 27, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 10:47 p.m. HST, Nov 11, 2010
On Saturday night, Kama Bailey will stand on the visiting sideline and feel right at home.
The Idaho running back will make his second appearance as a Vandal at Aloha Stadium, but unlike his four teammates from Hawaii, he'll feel just a little more comfortable with his surroundings.
The 2008 Damien graduate played the majority of his high school games at the stadium, and returns for what may be his final trot out of the stadium tunnel when Idaho takes on Hawaii in a Western Athletic Conference game.
"I played a lot of football games at Aloha Stadium with Damien and now this more than likely will be my last game there," Bailey said. "It'd be a fitting end to be able to go out with a win."
Bailey played primarily on special teams, returning kicks, when the Vandals last visited Hawaii in 2008. As a freshman, he set the school's single-season kickoff return yardage record with 955 yards on 41 returns.
Now that he's got a better grasp of the Idaho offense, Bailey is enjoying an expanded role as a running back and should see a larger amount of playing time.
"I've been able to get a better handle on our offense and it's good to get the opportunity," he said. "It's nothing like (my playing time) in high school, but I'm not trying to be greedy about it. If it's blocking, running a route, catching a ball or running it, I just want to be out there."
Bailey has scored touchdowns in three of his last four games, both carrying the ball and as a receiver.
The Vandals (4-3) will try to reverse a season-long trend of losing after each win. They've flip-flopped wins and loses in every game this year as they try to earn a repeat berth in a postseason bowl game.
"We're trying to take the steps necessary to go to another bowl," Bailey said. "We're going to have to come in and play our best to beat Hawaii."
To do that, the Vandals will need to rely on Bailey to help control the ball and keep the Hawaii offense off the field.
"We're going to have to establish a running game to have a chance," Bailey said. "We'll need to do that, keep throwing the ball, and maybe make a play or two on special teams to make it a good game."
Bailey played behind Hawaii senior slotback Kealoha Pilares for two years at Damien. The two combined to rewrite the Monarchs record books, amassing obscene rushing numbers.
Bailey was named the Honolulu Star-Bulletin Offensive Player of the Year in 2007 after setting a single-season state record with 2,098 rushing yards, averaging 10.9 yards a carry and scoring 22 touchdowns. He also holds the single-game Interscholastic League of Honolulu record with 370 rushing yards.
Bailey says he hasn't talked to Pilares much since high school, but isn't surprised by his success with the Warriors.
"He's having a great year representing Damien and has them at 6-2 or whatever and at the top of the league," Bailey said. "I knew (Hawaii) was going to be a top contender this year and that's why we have to come in and play our very best if we want to win."
Of the five kids from Hawaii playing for the Vandals, Bailey is the only one on offense.
Junior linebacker Robert Siavii (Leilehua '08) is a starter on defense and Jojo Dickson (Baldwin '07) was a starter and team captain, but won't play after breaking his ankle last week in a win over New Mexico State, ending his season and collegiate career.
"It's tough, but we've got guys that have to step up and fill his role," Bailey said. "He was a key to our defense and now other guys will have to make plays."
Sophomore linebacker Conrad Scheidt (Kamehameha '09) and freshman Chase Bell (Kamehameha-Maui '10) are also on the Idaho roster.