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Kamehameha adjusts quickly to new system

By Jason Kaneshiro

LAST UPDATED: 4:04 p.m. HST, Aug 7, 2013

Doug Cosbie has yet to signal in his first play from the Kamehameha sideline, but the former Pro Bowl tight end already has the Warriors in hurry-up mode.

Since his hiring as head coach in early June, the former Pro Bowl tight end and his staff have been playing catch-up to get the Warriors prepared for the swiftly approaching season.

"The kids have worked really hard and they've done a good job; we were just really far behind," Cosbie said.

"We've closed the gap. We're still a little behind, but we're making some progress every day."

In the interim between previous head coach David Stant's departure and Cosbie's hiring, the Warriors went without a directed winter program or a spring practice. Once formally installed, Cosbie quickly assembled coaching staffs for the varsity, junior varsity and intermediate programs before embarking on the process of implementing new offensive and defensive systems.

"The first two days I interviewed 37 coaches," Cosbie said. "It was a long two days."

Cosbie and his staff —a mix of assistants with experience within the program and new faces to the Kamehameha campus — officially went to work on June 5 and will get a read on how far the Warriors have progressed in a relatively short span when they open the season with a nonleague game at Castle on Friday. The Warriors face Farrington at Kunuiakea Stadium the following week.

Cosbie, who played 10 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and made three appearances at Aloha Stadium as a Pro Bowl selection, is handling both head coaching and offensive coordinator duties. He hired former Kahuku defensive coordinator Byron Beatty to fill the same role in Kapalama Heights. Both point to the front lines as the foundations of the respective units.

The defensive front includes two seniors who have already committed to Division I college programs — Kalei Meyer (Nevada) and Kaau Gifford (Hawaii). Cosbie added that 6-foot-3 junior defensive end Mika Tafua has "almost everyone in the country looking at him."

Although Beatty is installing new packages, experience at all three levels of the unit has helped accelerate the learning process. Calen Holt and Chad Souza return to the linebacker corps and Javen Sablay has stepped forward in the secondary.

"They were pretty tight prior to us getting here, and once we got here I think they were just eager to jump in and get things started," Beatty said. "We threw a lot at them and they were able to pick things up pretty quick — that's why we were able to move a little faster than we normally would."

Offensively, Cosbie acknowledges the West Coast system he's installing places a hefty responsibility on quarterback Fatu Sua-Godinet, a sophomore set to step into the role following the graduation of Makoa Camanse-Stevens. But the new coach is making it clear Sua-Godinet won't bear that burden alone.

"If you're good up front it makes it a lot easier," Cosbie said. "We'll be able to run the ball pretty good, and that takes a lot of the pressure off the quarterback.

"What we keep telling him is he doesn't have to be ‘the man' this year because with the O-line and the running back they can carry the load for him."

The offensive line helped junior Kaulana Apelu average close to 6.3 yards a carry in seven ILH games last season. He rushed for 553 yards and scored eight touchdowns in league play and ran for a season-high 145 in a win over Saint Louis.

That performance contributed to Kamehameha's three-game winning streak to end the season, though the Warriors' postseason hopes had all but vanished by then as they finished 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the ILH. But the league's new playoff format will put a premium on peaking late in the fall, which could benefit a program working through a summer of transition.

"Offensively we'll improve as a season goes," Cosbie said. "A lot of the offense is about timing, and for them to get good at that it just takes time and a lot of reps and we're making up for lost time."

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