During the long drive home, the conversation rarely shifts away from football.
But as soon as Kamehameha coach David Stant and son Kawika arrive home in Hau’ula, all that football talk stays in the car.
It’s how the two have come to handle the intricacies of their relationship.
Whether it’s coaching your son, or playing for your dad, challenges exist on both sides to keep football and family separate.
For the Stants, that means leaving football at the door.
"Once we get home he just wants to be with family, so it’s all football talk in the car and then once you get home, drop it," Kawika said.
It wasn’t easy at first for the 5-foot-11, 215-pound linebacker, who first suited up for the Warriors as a sophomore. Now a senior, Stant has matured both on the field and in how he handles having his dad as his coach.
"My sophomore year was the worst year of my life because he was defensive coordinator and on my case every day," Kawika said. "I took everything so personal my sophomore year, but now things just happen and I know he has to be tough on me."
They’ve made it work at Kamehameha, where the Warriors enter the 2010 season as the defending state champions.
Defense was Kamehameha’s calling card in ’09, yielding less than a yard per carry through the entire season.
Stant will anchor a defense at linebacker that is poised to do special things again this season.
"I think we’re ready," Stant said. "We’ve just got to have fun. These guys don’t know how to have fun yet. Everything is just so serious right now."
A repeat would be the perfect way to cap off a three-year career that began as a sophomore, which Stant said was the first time he "really got to put on pads."
Stant was born in Japan and moved back and forth twice before returning to Hawaii for the eighth grade to play football. If he stayed in Japan, he wouldn’t have played until college.
"That was kind of one of the reasons we came back, so that I could play," he said.
He didn’t take long to learn the game, earning a starting spot his first season.
He was one of only two defensive players to make first team all-state as a junior and one of three different Warrior defenders selected to the team.
He’ll be surrounded by new starters at his position, but it’s a group that isn’t short on experience.
"We rotated a lot of these guys in and out last year, so it’s like having returning starters in there," he said.
Kamehameha wrapped up its first week of practice in full pads on Saturday and Stant is eager to get the season going.
Training camp has been chippy at times. Stant says there have been "a couple of scraps" among the younger guys coming up from junior varsity and the returning players, but it’s all part of getting better and coming together as a team.
"I was a little worried because we were really close last year and this year, some of the guys coming up have tried to take over, which didn’t sit well with the older guys," Stant said. "Hanging out together, I think now we’re better and we’ll be ready by the start of the season."
The Star-Advertiser kicked off the high school football season with unprecedented coverage, featuring top players at each position and counting down to the top teams in the state. See below for past and upcoming stories.
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